You can talk about the focus and penalties and communication problems and the failure of the fourth cornerback to adjust to a pass in the air. And, yes, all of those were factors in the Washington Redskins' loss to the Rams on Sunday.
But the simple fact of the matter is that the three turnovers, along with the failure to hold on to a couple of interceptions, are the reasons why the Redskins lost.
The focus is on Pete Kendall's fumble after his inexplicable decision to haul in a batted pass. That one play represented at least a 10-point turnaround as the Redskins were well within field goal range and the Rams executed a scoop and score. According to Jason Campbell it was worse than that as the target of the pass, James Thrash, was wide open and would easily have scored a touchdown.
But at one of the previous two turnovers was extremely costly as well. On their third possession the Redskins were starting to get into rhythm offensively. Up 7-3 and starting from their own 18, Campbell threw a swing pass to Clinton Portis for 14 and a sideline pass to Santana Moss for 17. Portis ran for five, Chris Cooley went over the middle for four and then Ladell Betts powered for three yards to convert the third and one. From the St. Louis 39, the Redskins had another first down after Campbell found Cooley again at the 28. But the ball popped out as Cooley was going down and the Rams recovered Washington's first offensive fumble of the year.
The way they were moving, it's not too much to presume that the Redskins would have scored a touchdown to take a 14-3 lead. Even if the drive stalls at the point of the fumble the Redskins are well within field goal range.
On their next possession the Redskins were on the move again. A Betts run of 13 and an 18-yard catch and run by Antwaan Randle El got them from their own 20 into St. Louis territory. The Skins picked up more momentum when Portis fought for a yard to pick up a fourth and one by the nose of the football.
But then on third and five Campbell tried to scoop up a low shotgun snap but he couldn't get the handle and Chris Long recovered for the Rams. A play for no gain in that situation leaves a 51-yard field goal attempt for Shaun Suisham. That's not an automatic but a very makeable kick.
In spite of giving away a net of anywhere from 13 to 24 points, the Redskins were three and a half minutes away from stealing a win. They say that one of the marks of a great team is to be able to play poorly and still win.
One could extrapolate from that and say that the mark of a team that is pretty good but has not yet arrived is that it can play poorly and almost win.