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Grading the Redskins: Offense drops the ball, literally

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Grading the Redskins: Offense drops the ball, literally

Offense

Grade vs. Steelers: C-

Comment: One of the league’s most productive and electric offenses turned out to be neither Sunday.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III had his worst passing performance as a pro, completing only 47.1 percent of his 34 pass attempts. He arrived in Pittsburgh leading the league with a 70.4-percent completion rate.

Much of Griffin’s troubles, though, were the result of 10 dropped passes by his receivers, not off-target passes. On one drive in the second quarter, in fact, Griffin tossed catchable passes to Evan Royster, Josh Morgan and Santana Moss on consecutive plays. All three ended up on the turf. With the Steelers leading 20-6, that was the time for the Redskins to answer.

“Everybody can count on having a bad day,” Shanahan said Monday, asked if there was a common theme to the drops. “But not everybody together. That was unusual. If you want to beat a team like Pittsburgh in their backyard, you can’t make those mistakes.”

In all, the Redskins amassed a season-low 169 passing yards. 

They couldn't get much going on the ground, either.

Griffin was credited with only eight yards on six rushing attempts, while Alfred Morris was limited to 59 yards on a season-low 13 carries. As a team, the Redskins entered the game leading the NFL with 177.7 yards per game on the ground but mustered a season-low 86 against Larry Foote and the Steelers.

It was an all around ugly performance by the Redskins’ only consistently reliable unit. When that happens, they’ve got virtually no chance of winning. 

“When you have a day like [Sunday] where almost nothing worked for you,” Griffin said, “it’s very frustrating.”

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Five takeaways from the Redskins' devastating loss in New Orleans

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Five takeaways from the Redskins' devastating loss in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS—Here are my five main takeaways from the Redskins stunning overtime loss to the Saints

It’s everybody’s fault—When the game ended my Twitter timeline exploded with people venting and blaming the offense or the defense or the play calling or Kirk Cousins for the blowing the game. But it’s not as simple as pointing the finger at the third and one run that didn’t work or the grounding call on Cousins or the inability to get pressure on Drew Brees during the Saints’ final three drives. You don’t have enough fingers to point to everything that went wrong. When you blow a 15-point lead with six minutes left, it’s a total team collapse. It’s everyone.

Chris Thompson a huge lossHe’s not just the team’s leading rusher and leading receiver. Thompson is part of the heart and soul of the locker room. He’ll talk to anyone in the media any day and give thoughtful, intelligent answers. At age 27, Thompson is the “old man” in the running back room and the other backs looked to him for knowledge and as an example to follow. The Redskins have overcome a lot of injuries this year but this one might be the toughest to deal with.  

READ MORE: THIS REDSKINS LOSS LITERALLY DEFIED THE ODDS

No defense—It’s hard to figure out who on defense to blame for the Saints’ last two drives of regulation. It was just a Brees blitzkrieg. In the two drives, he was 11 for 11 for 164 yards and the two touchdowns. Without knowing the coverage calls it was hard to tell who was supposed to be covering the players who caught the ball because they weren’t anywhere near the receivers. There was virtually no pass rush and poor coverage. That turned out to be a fatal combination.

A good performance by Cousins—It’s hard for me to pin much of the blame here on Cousins, even though he is getting a lot of it. If you help put up 31 points and throw a touchdown pass that puts your team up by 15 points with just under six minutes to play, I think you’ve done your job. The grounding call we’ll discuss right here.

There should have been no penalty for intentional groundingWe can debate the audible call and whether Cousins should have thrown the ball all day. But that was not intentional grounding. That penalty requires that the passer be “facing an imminent loss of yardage due to pressure [and] throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion.” That’s from the rule book. Cousins was not facing an imminent loss of yardage; he took the snap and threw the ball immediately. The play does not fit the definition of the rule. I’m also confused by the 10-second runoff. It’s always been my understanding that the runoff was only enforced in situations where the penalty stops a moving clock. Jamison Crowder had gone out of bounds on the previous play so the clock was not running. I’m not positive that referee Walt Coleman blew that aspect of the call but he did make a mistake is throwing the grounding flag in the first place.

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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How a simple miscommunication led to the Redskins' crushing intentional grounding mistake

How a simple miscommunication led to the Redskins' crushing intentional grounding mistake

Kirk Cousins and his coaching staff picked a really, really bad time to mix up their signals on Sunday vs. the Saints.

With less than a minute left and the Redskins on the edge of field goal range, Cousins dropped back to pass and lofted the ball to the right sideline. The problem was that the area wasn't occupied by any Redskins receivers.

So, after a brief conference, the refs decided to flag Washington's QB for intentional grounding, a penalty that effectively doomed their chances of kicking a game-winning field goal. New Orleans would, of course, go on to finish off the 'Skins in overtime.

Afterward, Cousins took to the podium inside of the Superdome to try and explain what went wrong on that sequence.

MORE: THE REDSKINS' LOSS ON SUNDAY LITERALLY DEFIED THE ODDS

"We had a run play called, and based on the defensive look they were giving, it was gonna be a tough run to get, and we were probably gonna get stuffed and have to clock it and hope for the best for the field goal," he said (his comments can be seen in the video above).

"I looked over to the sideline out of the corner of my eye and saw the coaches saying, 'Throw it,' and they wanted, potentially, an audible, get to an actual pass play," he continued. "I thought they were saying if you just throw it by Jamison [Crowder], in the general area of Jamison, there's an eligible [receiver] in the area and there's no penalty."

So, according to Cousins, the miscommunication wasn't between him and Crowder, which is what most assumed during the game. Crowder was simply going to block, which was his assignment for the run play that the offense originally went to the line with.

The issue actually occured between the passer and the sidelines, with Cousins not catching onto his coaches' desire for him to audible into a pass. That's the explanation he's giving, at least. And that late slip-up will unfortunately be what most remember from a day where No. 8 was mostly on-point.