FEDEX FIELD - Even after losses, Redskins coach Jay Gruden rarely seems angry. Monday night after a particularly close and painful loss to the rival Cowboys, Gruden looked visibly upset.
"It's frustrating," Gruden told the media immediately following the loss.
The coach usually provides detailed answers to questions, but after the 19-16 loss on a last second Cowboys field goal, his press conference was shorter than normal.
"We had some unforced errors," Gruden said.
What errors? The Redskins were flagged for nine penalties in the game - Dallas got called for eight - for a total of 73 yards, but time and again the penalties thwarted promising drives for the offense or bailed out the Cowboys on third down stops for the defense. The biggest error, however, came late in the game on a DeSean Jackson punt return. Jackson started running up the right side of the field, only to completely reverse course and run to the left side, running at least 15 yards backwards in the process. If running backwards wasn't enough, Jackson fumbled the ball once he was hit, which Dallas recovered before scoring the game's first touchdown.
Gruden, as well as Redskins players, said Jackson was just trying to make a play.
"I don't regret that decision one bit," the coach said of having Jackson back to return the punt. Gruden then added, "gotta protect the ball though."
Jackson's punt return blunder allowed Dallas prime field position to score, but the receiver made up for it, grabbing a TD to tie the game with less than a minute left. In the end, the Redskins defense could not stop the Cowboys to end the game, and Dallas kicker Dan Bailey's fourth field goal proved the game winner.
"It didn't end up obviously the way we wanted to," Gruden said.
The Redskins offense posted just 266 yards, with 193 coming through the air. Throughout the night, the Washington offense seemed stalled, and Gruden talked about his team's inability to string together positive plays.
"Hats off to their defense," Gruden said. "Obviously the game plan was not too successful."
Despite an ugly outing Monday night and a season record two games below .500, the Redskins still find themselves tied for first place in the NFC East. Echoing the same sentiment as he has after previous big wins over the Saints and the Giants, Gruden maintained his team can still achieve their goals.
"Fact of the matter is we have four games left."
Gruden may have said that he will begin looking ahead to Chicago and moving on from the Dallas game, but trudging off the podium Monday night, he looked like a frustrated coach, perhaps searching for answers, in a season where the playoffs are still very much in sight.