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Five takeaways from the Redskins' 29-20 loss against the Chiefs

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USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Redskins' 29-20 loss against the Chiefs

KANSAS CITY—Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins 29-20 loss to the Chiefs

Too many mistakes—The Redskins just made too many mistakes to beat an undefeated team on the road. A series of penalties on the defense gave the Chiefs offense some life in the third and fourth quarters at critical times. Some dropped passes killed drives. And it may be unfair to call the incompletion at the end of the game a Josh Doctson drop but he could have had it. 

Defense could not get off the field—To be clear, the Chiefs were not successful solely due to Redskins mistakes. Alex Smith found Travis Kelce for a number of key plays. After running for just 24 yards in the first half he started to gash the defense as the second half wore on. The mistakes compounded the problem but the defense didn't communicate well with some inexperienced players on the field. 

MORE: REDSKINS WEEKLY MVPS THROUGH FOUR GAMES

Kirk Cousins executed clutch drives but some had missed passes Kirk Cousins put up some numbers and he made some huge plays running the ball, especially near the end. You would like to see your franchise quarterback be able to pull out a win on the road like this. And maybe if Doctson holds on to that pass or if the defense commits one or two fewer ill-timed penalties, he does. But he had two big-time clutch drives, the one in the third quarter featuring the long pass to Vernon Davis right after the Chiefs took the lead for the first time and the one that tied the game late. The result is what it is but it’s fair to say that Cousins had them in a position to win.

Injuries lead to mistakes—The Redskins defense had to put some inexperienced players on the field and that is part of what cost them on defense. Nobody is going to send the Redskins a sympathy card for being banged up. Also, none of the injuries appear to be long term issue. Josh Norman's broken rib was the worst and he could be back for the Eagles game in three weeks. 

RELATED: QUARTER-BY-QUARTER BREAKDOWN SHOWS BACK-AND-FORTH NATURE OF GAME

An improving team—A loss is a loss and this game still goes on the bad side of Washington's ugly Monday ledger. But the way they played in a hostile environment shows that the Redskins are getting better. The offensive line kept Cousins from being sacked, they didn’t have a holding penalty and in the loudest stadium in the NFL they did not get called for a single false start. As noted, the defense made its share of mistakes but they played physical football and held the Chiefs, who ranked third in the NFL in scoring coming into the game, to 23 points. Fans should be encouraged as the team goes into the bye at 2-2.

 Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 23, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 7
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 17
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 24

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants

Look out for Eli—There are many reasons why the Giants are 2-8 but Eli Manning is not one of them. He isn’t nearly the turnover machine he has been for much of his career. His interception percentage this year is 1.6; he hasn’t been under 2.3 percent interceptions this decade. Manning only has 14 touchdown passes but considering that Odell Beckham, who went out in the fourth game of the season, still leads Giants wide receivers in touchdown receptions, that’s not bad.

Running game stuck—What makes Manning’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he doesn’t get much support from a running game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 920 yards. They have gained some traction lately after installing Orleans Darkwa as the starting running back; he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the season and 71 yards per game over the last three games. The Redskins certainly don’t want to let him get going tonight.

Reverting to reality—The Giants ranked 32nd in total defense in 2015. They dropped millions on free agents such as Janoris Jenkins, David Harrison, and Olivier Vernon and jumped to 10th. Now, this year they are 31st and equally bad against the pass (29th) and the run (30th). Health hasn’t been a huge issue, although Vernon has missed a few games and Jenkins was suspended. Redskins fans know full well that spending sprees don’t necessarily make for permanent improvements and Giants fans are learning it this year.

Keys to winning

  • Run the ballThe Redskins are 4-2 this year when rushing for 90 yards or more.
  • Continue to protect the ball—The Redskins have turned the ball over just twice in their last three games.
  • Don’t give them hope—The Chiefs let the Giants hang around last week and New York stole a win. The Redskins need to get on top early and mash down on the gas pedal.

Prediction—It’s hard to see a scenario where the Redskins lose this one. Even in their injury-depleted state they are battling every game and the same can’t be said for their opponents today. The weather forecast is for cold temperatures but not much wind, ideal conditions for Cousins to throw for 300 yards. For once, the Redskins get up early and keep going.

Redskins 31, Giants 13

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.