Sorting through the wreckage of one of the most painful losses in Redskins history.
Week 17: Redskins concluded an 8-7-1 season with a 19-10 loss to the Giants on Sunday (Jan. 1, 2017)
Passing Game: D
The Redskins’ biggest strength came up incredibly small for a second time in three games.
The Redskins went just 4-for-12 on third downs and allowed four sacks. Kirk Cousins threw two gut-wrenching picks and had a Raw QBR of just 19.9, his worst over the last two seasons.
This was the game of the season. And yet consider all of the bad from Kirk and the passing attack in this game:
- Redskins’ 12th offensive drive…happened in the fourth quarter…Redskins trailing 13-10…second play of the drive: Kirk didn’t throw deep to an open DeSean Jackson on a first-and-10 three-yard shotgun completion to Pierre Garcon…three plays later on a first-and-10 at the Giants’ 43 with 1:27 left: Kirk pumped, reloaded and then fired an interception to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a late shotgun pass intended for Garcon…Kirk had a ton of room with which to run but didn’t
- Redskins’ eighth offensive drive…happened in the third quarter…fourth play of the drive: Kirk failed to throw to a wide-open Crowder in the end zone on first-and-10 under-center play-action interception to Rodgers-Cromartie; the intended receiver, Maurice Harris, did fall down, but that ball should have been thrown to Crowder for the easy touchdown
- Redskins’ 11th offensive drive…resulted in a fourth-quarter three-and-out with the game tied at 10…first play of the drive: Kirk should have taken off and run on a first-and-10 under-center fake-toss incompletion…next play: Kirk threw with virtually no touch on a second-and-10 shotgun incompletion intended for Crowder, who also could have made the catch…play after that: Kirk overthrew DeSean on a third-and-10 shotgun deep incompletion
- Redskins’ second offensive drive…resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out…Kirk took a first-and-10 sack by Damon Harrison for a 10-yard loss, giving the Skins a second-and-20 at their 4
- Redskins’ third offensive drive…resulted in a punt on the final play of the first quarter…Garcon had a third-and-nine five-yard false-start penalty…next play: Chris Thompson and Morgan Moses failed in protection on a third-and-14 sack of Kirk that was split by Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon and resulted in a 12-yard loss
- Redskins’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter punt…second play of the drive: Kirk made a bad throw and Garcon ran a bad route on a second-and-five under-center play-action incompletion…four plays later: Reed fell down while running a hitch-and-go on a Kirk third-and-two shotgun incompletion
- Redskins’ fifth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter three-and-out… Rodgers-Cromartie came in unblocked on a third-and-eight sack of Kirk for a nine-yard loss
- Redskins’ seventh offensive drive…resulted in a third-quarter three-and-out…first play of the drive: Kirk overthrew an open DeSean on a first-and-10 under-center play-action incompletion…two plays later: Leon Hall and Devon Kennard combined on a third-and-10 sack of Kirk for a 10-yard loss
The good from Kirk and the passing game included just a handful of plays.
- Redskins’ 10th offensive drive…happened in the fourth quarter…third play of the drive: a Kirk third-and-six 11-yard shotgun completion to Crowder, who ran a great route and then made a nice leaping catch…three plays later: a Kirk first-and-10 15-yard under-center play-action completion to Harris…next play: a Kirk first-and-10 18-yard under-center play-action completion to Vernon Davis…three plays later: a Kirk third-and-17 21-yard completion to Garcon on a shotgun screen on which Thompson and Jordan Reed provided great blocks and Collins committed a two-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty…next play: a Kirk first-and-goal one-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Reed
- Redskins’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter punt…Kirk had a third-and-five 21-yard shotgun completion to Reed
- Redskins’ eighth offensive drive…resulted in Kirk’s third-quarter pick to Rodgers-Cromartie…Kirk beat the blitz on a third-and-two 49-yard shotgun completion to Garcon, who generated terrific YAC
- Redskins’ ninth offensive drive…resulted in Dustin Hopkins’ late-third-quarter 32-yard field goal…first play of the drive: Kirk had a first-and-10 31-yard under-center play-action completion to Davis, who did a great job of getting both feet in bounds
Running Game: F
For the second time in three games, the Redskins’ running game was borderline worthless. Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson combined for 15 carries for just 38 yards thanks in no small part to inadequate blocking.
The Redskins’ 10th offensive drive, which resulted in Reed’s fourth-quarter one-yard touchdown reception, included some nice runs, including a Kelley first-and-10 five-yard under-center-handoff run on the a fourth play of the drive and a Kelley second-and-five six-yard under-center-toss run on the next play. But that was about it from this rushing attack.
And the killer is that you had the feeling from the get-go that this was going to be a terrible day running the football.
- Opening drive of the game…resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out…Kelley had a first-and-10 one-yard shotgun read-option run and a third-and-one under-center-handoff run for no gain
- Redskins’ third offensive drive…resulted in a punt on the final play of the first quarter…the first play of the drive was a Kelley under-center-handoff run for minus-two yards
This was a classic case of a tale of two halves for the defense. The Redskins allowed the Giants to go 5-for-9 on third downs and put up 194 total net yards of offense in the first half versus 1-for-8 on third downs and 138 total net yards of offense in the second half.
But while the defense was much better over the final two quarters, it also produced zero takeaways and just one sack for the game.
The most maddening aspect of the defense was its inability to stop the run (again). The Giants had a season-high 144 net yards rushing – through three quarters. Paul Perkins finished with 21 carries for 102 yards.
The worst moments for the defense:
- Giants’ 11th offensive drive…resulted in Robbie Gould’s fourth-quarter 40-yard field goal that gave the Giants a 13-10 lead with 2:12 left…third play of the drive: Will Compton missed on a tackle on an Eli third-and-five six-yard shotgun completion to Victor Cruz…next play: Greg Toler got burned by Tavarres King on an Eli first-and-10 44-yard shotgun completion
- Giants’ third offensive drive…resulted in Rashad Jennings’ second-quarter second-and-goal two-yard under-center-handoff touchdown run…Josh Norman got beat on a crossing route by Odell Beckham Jr. on a third-and-four 12-yard shotgun completion…three plays later: an Eli third-and-two 14-yard under-center completion to Sterling Shepard…two plays after that: Norman committed a stupid unnecessary-roughness penalty after an Eli second-and-six eight-yard shotgun completion to Beckham, giving the Giants a first-and-goal at the 4
- Giants’ second offensive drive…resulted in Gould’s first-quarter 22-yard field goal…Perkins’ first four carries on the drive went for 37 yards, including a first-and-10 22-yard shotgun-delayed-handoff run on which Preston Smith lost contain and Duke Ihenacho guessed wrong on the gap to go through
- Giants’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter punt…third play of the drive: Compton, who was covering Will Tye, collided with Bashaud Breeland on Eli’s third-and-four 24-yard shotgun completion to a wide-open Tye
- Giants’ sixth offensive drive…was the opening drive of the second half…resulted in a third-quarter turnover on downs…Perkins had four carries for 34 yards over the first four plays, which included a Norman 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty
Among the good from the defense:
- Giants’ 10th offensive drive…resulted in a fourth-quarter three-and-out…Cullen Jenkins used a great spin move to get by Justin Pugh on a third-and-six sack of Eli for a nine-yard loss
- Giants’ sixth offensive drive…was the opening drive of the second half…resulted in a third-quarter turnover on downs…Foster broke up the pass on Eli’s fourth-and-two shotgun incompletion intended for Beckham
- Giants’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter punt…Kerrigan drew a third-and-eight 10-yard illegal-use-of-hands penalty on right tackle Marshall Newhouse
- Giants’ second offensive drive…resulted in Gould’s first-quarter 22-yard field goal…Kerrigan hit Eli on a second-and-goal-at-the-4 under-center incompletion that drew a 10-yard intentional-grounding penalty
- Giants’ first offensive drive…resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out…Ziggy Hood deflected the pass on an Eli third-and-three shotgun incompletion intended for Perkins
Special Teams: B
Crowder had one of his better games on punt returns in weeks, providing a third-quarter 19-yard return and a late-second-quarter 11-yard return.
Tress Way had a very good game, averaging 49.7 yards and 43.1 net yards on seven punts.
Hopkins connected on the late-third-quarter 32-yard field goal but also missed a 57-yard attempt on the final play of the second quarter.
Dashaun Phillips committed a nine-yard holding penalty on a first-quarter Crowder punt return, resulting in the ensuing Redskins possession starting at their 14.
The Redskins’ offense played this game without:
- Matt Jones (inactive for an ninth straight game and a healthy inactive for an eighth straight game)
- Kory Lichtensteiger (inactive for a third straight game)
- Vinston Painter (inactive for a third straight game)
- Nate Sudfeld (inactive for a 16th straight game)
- Josh Doctson (placed on injured reserve on Oct. 21 due to a left Achilles injury that dated back to the spring and had limited him to having played in just the first two games of the season)
The Redskins’ defense played this game without:
- Sua Cravens (inactive for a third straight game due to a right brachialis strain suffered in the Week 14 win at Philadelphia)
- Quinton Dunbar (inactive for a second straight game due to a concussion suffered in the Week 15 loss to Carolina on Monday Night Football)
- Josh Evans (inactive off being signed back by the Redskins on Dec. 28; he initially was signed on Oct. 5 but then waived on Oct. 28)
- Donte Whitner (placed on injured reserve on Dec. 28 due to a quad strain suffered in the Week 16 win at Chicago)
- DeAngelo Hall (placed on injured reserve on Sept. 27 due to a torn right ACL suffered in the Week 3 win at the Giants)
- Kedric Golston (placed on injured reserve on Sept. 19 due to a hamstring injury suffered on the Redskins’ first defensive play of the game in the Week 2 loss to Dallas)
- Anthony Lanier (placed on injured reserve on Dec. 13 due to a lower-leg contusion suffered in the Week 12 loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving)
- Houston Bates (placed on injured reserve on Dec. 20 due to a torn ACL suffered in the Week 15 loss to Carolina on Monday Night Football)
- Junior Gallette (placed on the non-football-injury list on July 28 due to a torn right Achilles tendon; it was a torn left Achilles tendon that cost him all of the 2015 season)
- Steven Daniels (on injured reserve due to a torn labrum suffered during training camp)
Considering the stakes (win and you’re into the playoffs barring a Green Bay-at-Detroit tie on Sunday Night Football) and the opponent (a Giants team locked in as the NFC’s five seed), this was one of the worst losses in Redskins history. Losses like The Swinging Gate Loss to the Giants in Dec. 2009, The Monday Night Massacre to Philadelphia in Nov. 2010 and The Kansas City Game in Dec. 2013 were atrocious but came in the midst of lost seasons. This season was not lost. But it is now over.
I can’t stand the notion of, “Even if the Redskins had won this game, they would have just lost in the playoffs. the following weekend.” Really? How do you know that? There are a number of examples in recent seasons of mediocre teams that went deep in postseasons. The 2008 Arizona Cardinals went 7-8-1, lost in Weeks 15 and 16 by a combined 82-21 and yet came within inches of beating Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. The 2011 Giants went 9-7, had a point differential of -6 and yet won the Super Bowl. You just don’t know.
Much of the talk going into this game was how long Giants head coach Ben McAdoo would play his starters. The answer: quite a bit. Eli played on all 72 Giants offensive snaps. Collins and Eli Apple played on all 55 Giants defensive snaps.
Jay Gruden did not have one of his better days.
- I did not like Jay deciding to punt with a fourth-and-two at the Giants’ 41 in the second quarter while trailing 10-0. That is precisely the kind of spot in which head coaches don’t go for it nearly as often as they should, to say nothing of this being a do-or-die game and the Skins having a bad defense.
- Jay’s clock management at the end of the first half was nonsensical. The Redskins had three timeouts left but didn’t use one after the first play of the drive, which was a Kirk first-and-10 two-yard shotgun completion to Thompson, who then fumbled but recovered the ball. About 15 seconds elapsed between the end of that play and the start of the next. The drive resulted in Hopkins’ missed 57-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of the second quarter.
- I also was not a fan of Jay reversing course and actually electing to receive off winning the coin toss. The result of the Redskins’ game-opening drive? A three-and-out. Jay admitted on The Official Redskins Postgame Show on ESPN 980 Redskins Radio that he elected to receive because he thought that Eli would only play for a half.
The Giants’ second offensive drive, which resulted in Gould’s first-quarter 22-yard field goal, included the Skins getting jobbed by the officials, as they missed an obvious face-mask penalty by Shepard on Norman on a near-pick of an Eli second-and-three shotgun incompletion. The ensuing Redskins drive, though, included a Kirk second-and-12 23-yard shotgun completion that shouldn’t have counted, as Garcon didn’t have control of the ball while running out of bounds. That drive, though, resulted in a punt.
Playing-time thoughts: Jordan Reed returned off being inactive twice in four games due to the Grade 3 left AC-joint separation suffered in the Thanksgiving loss at Dallas. He had five receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown on six targets in playing on 62 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps…Toler played on 94 percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps; Kendall Fuller played on one defensive snap.
The Redskins waived Silas Redd on Dec. 27 off him being reinstated by the NFL, which had suspended him indefinitely without pay for multiple violations of the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. We learned of the suspension last April 12.