Week 9: Redskins fall to 3-6 with a 21-13 loss to Carolina on Sunday afternoon (Nov. 4, 2012).
1. The losing continues, and head coach Mike Shanahan made some eyebrow-raising comments.
The Skins lost their third consecutive game and for the fourth time in five games.
The Skins fell to 14-27 under Shanahan.
The Skins fell to 5-15 at home under Shanahan.
Shanahan, who had called this a “must-win game,” after the game seemed to hint that the Skins were entering an evaluation portion of the season as opposed to contending for the playoffs: “When you lose a game like that, now you’re playing to see who, obviously, is going to be on your football team for years to come. And now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at. Obviously we’re not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we got and how guys keep on fighting through with the rest of the season.” The comments were a major topic on The Official Redskins Postgame Show on ESPN 980 and on NBC’s Football Night in America.
Shanahan clarified the comments on Monday, when he also expressed displeasure with those in the media who ripped him without calling him.
The Skins seemingly would need to win six of their final seven games to have a realistic shot at the postseason. While you and I can talk in terms of the season essentially being over from a playoff-contending standpoint, neither the coaching staff nor the players should. Shanahan did say on Sunday that the Skins “mathematically” still have a chance, and upon further review what he seemed to be saying on Sunday was now we’ll find out the true fighters on the team. But the phrasing and tone were all wrong.
Sunday’s comments were another example of him not saying things in the best possible manner. The best example of this was the postgame press conference following the benching of quarterback Donovan McNabb on Oct. 31, 2010, but even on Monday Shanahan incorrectly said that not a single player on offense was on the team two years ago. How Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl-winning and potential Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach, can have these troubles in postgame press conferences is pretty remarkable. I get that talking to reporters is probably like priority no. 12 for him (and that's fine), but this is an area in which he needs to get better.
The Skins have to win four of their final seven games to avoid a fourth consecutive double-digit-loss season.
2. The Skins’ defense struggled again.
Quarterback Cam Newton connected with a wide-open receiver in Armanti Edwards for a fourth-quarter 82-yard reception. Newton had a one-yard touchdown run two plays later, helping to give the Panthers a 21-6 lead.
The Skins struggled to stop the run for a second consecutive game. Newton and running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams combined for 24 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns. • Stewart had a third-quarter 21-yard run on which he ran by defensive end Stephen Bowen, who failed in an attempted tackle. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett took the blame for the play on Tuesday: "We had a show-blitz on, so that was my fault for the call."
• Stewart had a first-quarter 17-yard run.
• Stewart had a first-quarter 11-yard run on which corner DeAngelo Hall went to grab the ball instead of tackle Stewart. Hall did have a team-best two passes defended and did grade out at plus-2.6 coverage for the game according to Pro Football Focus.
• Newton had a second-quarter third-and-two 11-yard run.
• Newton had a first-quarter 10-yard run.
The Skins are ninth in the NFL in fewest rushing yards allowed per game (96.2) and tied for 13th in the league in fewest yards allowed per attempt (4.2).
The Panthers went 5-for-11 on third downs, including 4-for-5 in the first half. • The Panthers went 3-for-3 on third downs on a 12-play, 98-yard drive that resulted in receiver Steve Smith’s 19-yard touchdown reception: Newton had an 11-yard run on a third-and-two, tight end Greg Olsen had a 17-yard reception on a third-and-six and Smith’s 19-yard touchdown reception came on a third-and-10.
• Newton had a third-and-one three-yard run on the first-quarter drive that resulted in Williams’ 30-yard touchdown run.
• Olsen had linebacker Perry Riley beat but dropped the ball on a third-quarter third-and-four incompletion.
The Skins are 28th out of 32 NFL teams in opponents’ third-down efficiency (43.8 percent; 49-for-112).
The Skins did not force any takeaways for a second consecutive game off having forced 16 takeaways over the first seven games.
The Skins totaled no sacks and just two quarterback hits and now have totaled two sacks over the last three games and three quarterback hits over the last two games. The Skins are tied for 22nd out of 32 NFL teams with 14 sacks.
Corner Josh Wilson graded out at minus-2.9 coverage according to Pro Football Focus. He got beat by Smith on his second-quarter 19-yard reception. Fox analyst Daryl Johnston was critical of Wilson for not turning his head around to find the ball on the play. Wilson also was apparently at fault for Edwards' fourth-quarter 82-yard reception, as Haslett said on Tuesday that the Skins were in three-deep coverage, meaning that Wilson should have stayed on the outside to cover Edwards according to John Keim of The Washington Examiner. And Wilson committed two pass-interference penalties and was beat by Smith on a first-quarter incompletion that was caused by Newton throwing too high.
Linebacker London Fletcher graded out at minus-2.6 according to Pro Football Focus, which now has given him eight negative grades in nine games this season. He got beat on 13-yard receptions by Olsen and fellow tight end Gary Barnidge on the game’s opening drive, which did result in a Panthers punt. Fletcher also committed a questionable second-quarter 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty.
The Skins are 31st out of 32 NFL teams in fewest passing yards allowed per game (302).
Newton’s final passing numbers weren’t overwhelming: 13-of-23 for 201 yards, a touchdown and a passer rating of 100.1.
3. Rookie quarterback Robert Grffin III had perhaps his worst game.
RGIII dealt with sore ribs, so that perhaps explained at least in part his modest throwing numbers: 23-of-39 for 215 yards, no touchdowns, no picks and a passer rating of 74.2. He did have 11 carries for 53 yards.
The Skins went 3-for-15 on third downs, now are 6-for-27 on third downs over the last two games and now are last in the NFL in third-down efficiency (28.6 percent; 32-for-112).
Poor throws from RGIII included: • Throwing high on a fourth-quarter incompletion that was intended for running back Alfred Morris
• Throwing behind receiver Joshua Morgan on a fourth-quarter third-and-10 incompletion
• Throwing high on a fourth-quarter third-and-20 incompletion that was intended for Morgan
• Throwing behind Morgan on a third-quarter third-and-six incompletion
• Throwing high on a fourth-quarter incompletion that was intended for tight end Logan Paulsen
• Throwing high on a first-quarter incompletion that was intended for tight end Chris Cooley
Impressive plays from RGIII included: • Fourth-quarter fourth-and-four eight-yard run on which he got helicoptered by a hit from rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly (KEEK-lee)
• Incredibly avoiding a sack by defensive end Greg Hardy, who had right tackle Tyler Polumbus beat on what proved to be a fourth-quarter incompletion that was intended for running back Evan Royster
• Third-quarter 25-yard completion to receiver Leonard Hankerson
• Third-quarter 22-yard completion to tight end Niles Paul
• Third-quarter 17-yard completion to Hankerson
• First-quarter third-and-six 16-yard completion to Morgan
• Second-quarter fourth-and-three six-yard completion to Morgan
RGIII is eighth in the NFL in completion percentage (65.6) and yards per attempt (7.61), 10th in the league in passer rating (93.9) and second in the league in rushing yards per attempt (6.5).
4. RGIII wasn’t helped out enough by those around him.
Morgan had six receptions for 46 yards on 12 targets. He failed to catch: • A fourth-quarter third-and-20 pass that was high but could have been caught.
• A fourth-quarter third-and-10 pass that was behind Morgan but went through his hands.
• A fourth-quarter pass that he dropped after a heavy hit from linebacker Thomas Davis.
• A third-quarter pass that to be fair was behind Morgan.
Morgan did have: • An outstanding second-quarter 13-yard reception, which he made despite tight coverage from rookie corner Josh Norman.
• A first-quarter third-and-six 16-yard reception.
• A third-quarter nine-yard run.
The Skins allowed four sacks. • Third quarter…third-and-10 for the Skins on their 41…defensive end Charles Johnson beats Polumbus and splits a sack with defensive tackle Dwan Edwards.
• First play of the fourth quarter…second-and-15 for the Skins on the Panthers’ 41…Johnson throws Polumbus to the ground and sacks RGIII.
• Fourth quarter…third-and-12 for the Skins on their 20…Hardy blows by center Will Montgomery for a sack of RGIII.
• Fourth quarter…fourth-and-10 for the Skins on their 43…Polumbus and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger struggle in pass protection, and Hardy and Johnson split a sack of RGIII.
Polumbus also was beat by Hardy on a fourth-quarter incompletion on which RGIII’s escapability was terrific. Polumbus graded out at minus-5.7 according to Pro Football Focus.
The Skins are tied for 23rd out of 32 NFL teams in fewest sacks allowed with 21.
Royster failed to make a diving catch on the fourth-quarter incompletion on which RGIII’s escapability was terrific. Royster also failed in pass protection on safety Haruki Nakamura (huh-ROO-kee nah-kuh-MER-uh) on a second-quarter incompletion on which Nakamura blasted RGIII, causing the sore ribs.
Receiver Aldrick Robinson started but failed to catch the ball on the Skins’ first offensive play for a drop.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was guilty of some questionable play calling, highlighted by a second-quarter fourth-and-goal-at-the-two RGIII wide run on which he was stuffed for no gain and seemingly (and inexplicably) had no throw option. The Skins scored no points on a 16-play, 78-yard drive. The Skins had gone 2-for-2 on fourth downs on the drive.
5. The Skins continued to commit too many penalties.
The Skins committed 13 penalties for 97 yards.
The Skins are last in the NFL in fewest accepted penalties with 75. The Skins have been penalized for a league-worst 649 yards.
Costly penalties for the Skins included: • Left tackle Trent Williams’ first-quarter 10-yard holding penalty on a 12-play, 68-yard drive that resulted in Forbath’s 47-yard field goal.Williams did grade out at plus-4.3 according to Pro Football Focus.
• Paul and Paulsen had second-quarter five-yard false-start penalties on the 16-play, 78-yard drive that resulted in no points.
• Tight end Chris Cooley’s third-quarter 10-yard illegal-block-above-the-waist penalty on a 10-play, 69-yard drive that resulted in Forbath’s 25-yard field goal.
• Fullback Darrel (duh-REHL) Young’s third-quarter 10-yard holding penalty and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger’s third-quarter five-yard ineligible-downfield-pass penalty on a drive that resulted in a fourth-quarter Rocca punt.
• Wilson’s fourth-quarter five-yard pass-interference penalty. The next play was a Newton one-yard touchdown run that helped to make the score 21-6.
• Montgomery’s fourth-quarter 10-yard holding penalty that nullified an RGIII three-yard touchdown run.Montgomery did grade out at plus-3.2 according to Pro Football Focus.
• A fourth-quarter five-yard illegal-formation penalty that nullified a three-yard touchdown pass to Hankerson.
6. The Skins played in a game with no turnovers for a second consecutive week.
The Skins are fifth in the NFC with a turnover differential of plus-seven (16 takeaways versus nine giveaways) this season.
7. Morris was great but underutilized.
Morris had 13 carries for 76 yards, but 10 of those carries and 54 of those yards came in the first half. He had just three carries for 22 yards in the second half. The Skins trailed, 14-3, at the half, but cut the deficit to 14-6 in the third quarter, so it’s not as if the Skins had to be in must-throw mode.
Four of Morris’ carries went for 55 yards. The other nine carries totaled just 21 yards.
Quality runs from Morris included: • Third-quarter 18-yard run
• First-quarter 16-yard run
• Consecutive runs of nine and 12 yards to begin the second quarter
Morris is sixth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (88.1) and is tied for 13th in league in yards per attempt (4.8).
8. It was another mixed game for Skins special teams.
Kicker Kai Forbath (KY FOHR-bath) went 2-for-2 on field goals of 47 yards in the first quarter and 25 yards in the third quarter. He now is 8-for-8 on field goals of 50, 20, 43, 45, 48, 45, 47 and 25 yards over four games with the Skins. Forbath did see just one of his three kickoffs result in a touchback.
Punter Sav Rocca, whom Shanahan has revealed is dealing with a torn meniscus in his right knee, had a fourth-quarter 51-yard punt, a third-quarter 49-yard punt and a fourth-quarter 37-yard punt that was fair-caught at the 9.
Receiver/returner Brandon Banks had two punt returns: a third-quarter punt return for minus-five yards and a fourth-quarter punt return for one yard. He also averaged just 18.3 yards on three kickoff returns. Banks had receptions for minus-nine yards on the game’s final play (on which he ran a designed screen the wrong way according to Shanahan on Monday) and two yards on a second-quarter third-and-goal at the 4. Banks also had a third-quarter third-and-six three-yard run. He is 25th in the NFL in yards per punt return (6.2) and 21st in the league in yards per kickoff return (24.6).
Safety Reed Doughty had a second-quarter five-yard illegal-block-above-the-waist penalty on a Banks 17-yard kickoff return. Doughty did lead the Skins with 10 tackles.
9. The officiating was highly questionable, especially in the first half.
Officiating is not why the Skins lost this game, but that doesn’t mean the Skins shouldn’t be mad about some of what took place.
Williams’ first-quarter 30-yard touchdown run came on a play on which a whistle was blown while Williams was still running. He appeared as if he may have stepped out of bounds, although replays clearly showed that he did not. The blown whistle was heard by various Skins defenders, including Riley, who was chasing Williams. While he may have scored anyway, you can’t be sure of that. Incredibly, the touchdown was allowed to stand.
Head referee Carl Cheffers told a pool reporter, "The line judge blew his whistle. We had a lot of discussion about it. We just felt when the whistle blew, that the player would have already scored a touchdown. So, we tried to piece together if we had to spot - by rule, we would have to put him down when the whistle blew, and we tried to decide where that spot would be, and we felt that spot would be in the end zone.“
The NFL admitted to the officiating error on Monday. The league said that the Panthers should have instead been offered the ball at the 17 - at the point where line judge Thomas Symonette blew his whistle because he mistakenly thought Williams had stepped out of bounds. Under the rules, the Panthers also could have chosen to replay the down at the 30.
Also, Hall may have been held on the Williams touchdown run.
Additionally, Fletcher was called for a second-quarter 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on which Newton did some serious (though not quality) selling. Later on that drive, Wilson was called for the first of his two pass-interference penalties. Johnston criticized the call on Fox.
The Skins also benefited from poor officiating. A third-quarter five-yard delay-of-game penalty on Newton was the result at least in part of the referee and the umpire being between the center and Newton, who was in the shotgun.
10. Miscellaneous notes:
Receiver Santana Moss suffered a concussion late in the fourth quarter.
Inactives for the Skins were rookie corner Richard Crawford for a second consecutive game, receiver Pierre Garcon (toe; now has played in just three of nine games this season), quarterback Rex Grossman, safety Brandon Meriweather (left knee), rookie guard Adam Gettis, guard/tackle Maurice Hurt and defensive end Doug Worthington (calf).
Rookie guard Josh LeRibeus (luh-REE-biss), a 2012 third-round pick, was active for just the second time this season (Week 4 win at Tampa Bay and now this Week 9 loss to Carolina).
The Skins remained without: • Tight end Fred Davis (torn left Achilles suffered in the Week 7 loss at the Giants)
• Linebacker Brian Orakpo (torn left pectoral muscle suffered in the Week 2 loss at Saint Louis)
• Defensive lineman Adam Carriker (right quadriceps tendon tear suffered in the Week 2 loss at Saint Louis)
• Running back Roy Helu Jr. (placed on injured reserve on Sept. 26 due to turf toe; he also had dealt with tendonitis in both Achilles)
• Right tackle Jamal Brown (hip; is on the physically-unable-to-perform list)
• Safety Tanard Jackson (indefinite suspension due to a third violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy)
The Skins announced a number of roster moves on Tuesday: • Corner David Jones and long snapper Justin Snow were waived.
• Corner Domonique “D.J.” Johnson was signed from the practice squad to the active roster.
• Long snapper Nick Sundberg was activated from injured reserve. He had been designated for return off suffering a broken left arm in the Week 1 win at New Orleans.