By MARK F. GRAY
For the first time this season the Washington Redskins went back to the future. Halloween proved to be a nightmare for a team that appeared ready to firmly establish themselves as a playoff team that may look back on this game as the one where the post season vanished in ghostly fashion with a 37-25 loss sending them into the bye week reeling.
This was a full service loss featuring enough culpability on every level. The offensive line demonstrated the new ole’ technique that allowed the Lions defensive line to create its own highlight reel. They missed on converting 12 of 14 third down attempts which hasn’t been an area where they have made any improvement since the beginning of the season. The defensive line was not able to get enough pressure on Matthew Stafford who shredded them in his first game back since week one.
And there were the coaching decisions starting with only dressing two running backs and not activating guard Derrick Dockery who could have done as well as anyone at plugging the gulf up the middle where Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman were pounded at will. After Ryan Torain strained his hamstring in the third quarter, the team was forced to use Keiland Williams as the lone running back for the rest of the game.
However, the ultimate decision to pull McNabb for Grossman on their final meaningful drive is the one that threatens to linger well beyond the bye week. Mike Shanahan said that with less than 2:00 to go he decided to bring on Grossman because “he gave us the best chance to win because he was familiar with the terminology and was better able to call two plays or more plays at the line of scrimmage in the two minute drill”.
The Redskins played more like the team that traveled to Detroit in 2009 and allowed the Lions to end their 19 game losing streak. Penalties extended two Lions touchdown drives and they had a punt return for a touchdown nullified after an illegal block in the back. McNabb was sacked five times and was never able to get into a rhythm in the pocket.
Though not a thing of beauty McNabb’s first half was good as he has played all season. With Kyle Vandenbosch and Ndamakong Suh unabated to the quarterback for most the first two quarters he was sacked three times, hurried repeatedly, and drilled on nearly every one of his nine completions. But McNabb helped his cause by leading the team in rushing led them with 49 yards helping them to a 13-7 lead at halftime.
Despite all their shortcomings they still put themselves in a position to win thanks to Brandon Banks. Banks, who accounted for 271 return yards, and a 96 yard touchdown while losing another to a penalty. His touchdown gave them the lead late in the fourth quarter.
So now the Redskins enter the bye week having blown any momentum and in the midst of a full blown controversy. The fallout from this loss may have consequences that reverberate into the post season even if the team doesn’t make it. Though McNabb may publicly act otherwise it remains to be seen if there is a riff between he and Team Shanahan that may signal the demise of what began as such a promising season and bring a premature end to the McNabb era in the nation‘s capital.
About the Author