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Miscue-riddled Redskins fall to Steelers, 27-12

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Miscue-riddled Redskins fall to Steelers, 27-12

In summary: Although Chris Cooley hadn’t played in an NFL game for more than a year, the veteran had little trouble summing up Sunday’s 27-12 loss in Pittsburgh.

“This is our worst performance as a team,” the tight end said. “It’s frustrating to come back and watch that happen."

The 15-point margin of defeat, indeed, was the largest of the Redskins' five losses this season. In a lot of ways, it also might have been the most disheartening.

Not necessarily because of the score but rather the sloppy manner in which the afternoon unfolded. Ten dropped passes by Coach Mike Shanahan’s count. Missed tackles everywhere. A blocked point after attempt and a shanked punt. DeAngelo Hall’s meltdown and subsequent ejection.

“When your playmakers don’t make plays for you, you can’t win football games,” Cooley said. “We had too many letdowns. We had too many drops.”

It all added up to an all around miserable performance on a raw, drizzly day at Heinz Field that Cooley and his teammates will no doubt be eager to put behind them.

“We’re better than what we showed today,” said Cooley, who was targeted only once.           

Here are 10 more notes, quotes and observations from Sunday’s unsightly defeat:

Turning point: Steelers’ running back Chris Rainey rushed for 26 yards all afternoon, but 19 of them came on a play that erased any chance the Redskins had of rallying.

In the third quarter, the Steelers were leading 20-9 when Rainey took a direct snap and Ben Roethlisberger feigned as though the ball had been snapped over his head. Rainey broke free and rambled to Washington’s 2-yard line. Two plays later, Roethlisberger’s one-yard pass to Will Johnson had given the Steelers a 27-9 edge. 

Offensive play of the game: It didn’t work, and it could have got the Redskins’ most important player injured, but wide receiver Josh Morgan’s pass attempt to Griffin was the most exciting play on an otherwise ho-hum day.

Morgan, a quarterback at H.D. Woodson High, took a reverse from Griffin and then launched a long pass back across the field to Griffin, who had raced down the sideline. The pass fell incomplete and Griffin was whistled for offensive pass interference. Griffin also took a hard shot from safety Ryan Clark but emerged uninjured.

Asked if he put Griffin in a dangerous situation as a receiver, Shanahan said: “It sure looked like it with that hit. We weren’t counting on that hit. I’ve run that play a lot of times and quarterbacks have walked [into the end zone]. We got the wrong coverage to throw it.”

Griffin added: “It was successful in practice. It just didn’t work out in the game.”

Defensive play of the game: There weren’t many candidates for this one. But, in terms of timing, Larry Foote’s tackle on Alfred Morris on the Redskins’ opening drive was huge.

Foote (team-high five solo tackles and a sack) dropped Morris three-yard loss at the Washington 25-yard line. Five plays later, the Steelers had an early 10-0 lead from which the Redskins did not recover.

Special teams play of the game: It’s a lowlight rather than a highlight, but Sav Rocca’s 12-yard punt in the second quarter edges Kai Forbath’s blocked point after attempt. Although the punter is nursing a sore right knee, his short kick put the Steelers on their own 45-yard line. Six plays later, Pittsburgh had a 20-6 lead.

Quote of the day: Shanahan on the rash of drops: “I don’t care where the placement is. As long as it hits your hand, you better catch it or else you won’t be in the National Football League for very long.”

Quote of the day, Part II: Shanahan on Hall getting ejected in the fourth quarter for cursing head linesman Dana Mckenzie. “I’m very disappointed. We talk all the time about keeping your composure regardless of what happens, regardless of what the situation is. You never put your team in that type of situation.”

Hall was upset after being wrestled to the ground by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who was run blocking downfield. When no flag was thrown, Hall removed his helmet and began berating Mckenzie.

Hall, who assessed two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, said he hopes to speak to the league about the incident.

Injury report: Linebacker Perry Riley left the game in the fourth quarter with a left hamstring injury. He said he attempted to return, but deciding against aggravating the strain and ending up with a pull. Riley said he expects to play next week. …London Fletcher, who missed two practices this week because of hamstring and balance issues, declined to put a percentage on how he felt today, saying, “I was well enough to play. I don’t know if anybody is 100-percent at this point in time.” Fletcher extended his NFL best streak of consecutive appearances to 232 games.

Game ball: Roethlisberger gets it. The veteran finished the game 24 of 33 for 222 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He is now 15-1 at home vs. NFC teams during the regular season.

By the numbers: Dick LeBeau, the Steelers’ defensive coordinator, improved to 15-1 all time against starting rookie quarterbacks since 2004. 

By the numbers, Part II: Griffin’s completion percentage of 47.1 marked the worst of his career. His previous low was 61.8-percent against the Bengals. 

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Need to Know: What will the Redskins do after Jonathan Allen's injury?

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Associated Press

Need to Know: What will the Redskins do after Jonathan Allen's injury?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 19, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night football.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences, open locker room, after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 10
—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 17
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 35

Jonathan Allen’s absence

The Redskins defensive line has been one of the most improved positions on the team. Now they have a large hole to fill in that unit.

Jonathan Allen’s Lisfranc injury will require surgery and that means he will be sidelined for the rest of the season. He likely will go on injured reserve sometime this week.

The team’s first-round draft pick had been playing very well. He has helped to provide the Redskins with pass rush up the middle, an important element that has been missing from the defense. The 17th overall pick had a sack, three QB hits and 10 hurries.

What will the Redskins do in Allen’s absence? The first thing they’ll do is take consolation in the fact that they still have Matt Ioannidis to give them some inside pass rush. The second-year player rebounded from a 2016 season where he played sparingly and is providing consistent pass rush pressure between the tackles. He has 3.5 sacks and 16 pressures.

But Ioannidis can’t do it alone. He and Allen each benefitted from the presence of the other one. And edge rushers Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan have both been helped by the attention the other teams had to pay to the pass pressure threat from the interior.

With Allen gone, who will take his place?

That question has a few different answers. When Allen goes on injured reserve, a lineman will be signed to take his place. That could be rookie Brandon Banks, who has been on the practice squad all year. They could bring up A.J. Francis, who has been around on the practice squad for a couple of years but he has not been with a team since he was release in Redskins’ cut to 53 on September 2.

They also could find a veteran who is not currently working or sign a player off of another team’s practice squad. The Redskins tried out 16 players on Tuesday and the only defensive lineman among them was Owa Odighizuwa, who played in 18 games for the Giants in 2015-2016.

But whoever takes the roster spot likely will be inactive most of the time. Anthony Lanier, the second-year defensive end who has been on the team this year but has not been active for a game, will be active on Monday night. He is a pass-rush specialist and it seems likely that he will get most of Allen’s snaps in nickel situations.

In base defense, Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain will rotate in more frequently. It’s not as though they have been sitting on the bench this season. While the rotation has favored Allen and Ioannidis, McClain and McGee have played 131 snaps this year. Ziggy Hood has 155, Ioannidis 170 and Allen 159.

McClain and McGee are OK defending the run so there won’t be a huge drop off there. The spotlight will be on Lanier, who played in just four games last year before an injury ended his season, to continue to get push up the middle with Ioannidis.

He will get his chance on Monday as the Redskins take on the Eagles. In the season opener, the Redskins were able to get pressure on quarterback Carson Wentz (22 pressures on 41 pass dropbacks) but they weren’t often able to bring him down. We will see if Lanier can get to him a time or two and finish the job.

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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In case you missed it

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Three plays that show why the Redskins' screen game is so effective

Three plays that show why the Redskins' screen game is so effective

By Ryan Wormeli

The Redskins eked out a close win at home on Sunday, coming away with a 26-24 final over the 49ers. One of the keys to the team's success on offense was their effective screen game. 

Doc Walker says running back Chris Thompson is the best in the NFL at catching screens and turning them into big plays. Still, he knows it takes more than just one great player to find success in the screen game.

On Redskins Gameplan, he turned to the film to break down three big plays from Sunday's victory, highlighting the offensive line in giving Thompson the room he needed to make something happen.

Play 1: Recievers getting in on the "Block Party"

Nearly half of the Redskins on the field for this play found themselves with someone to block. Walker points out how active the big guys are, shouting out Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao in particular. The receivers get some shine too, with Doc even pointing out, "You know you gotta give 11 some credit on that."

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Play 2: Trent Williams just keeps looking for guys to block

With the Redskins deep in their own territory, they once again call for a screen pass, and you know Doc gets really excited to see the big fellas move.

"Now watch the big uglies, downfield. Agile! Hostile! Getting after it! Staying on their feet, no belly floppers," exclaimed Walker. "That's the key to it."

Play 3: Brandon Scherff redeems himself later in the drive

Brandon Scherff started off this important drive with a holding penalty, costing his team valuable yards. He then saw the screen pass as an opportunity to make it up to his teammates, and he takes full advantage.

Doc has just one thing to say for players staring down an angry Brandon Scherff.

"You, my friend, are in trouble."

RELATED: WEEK 7 STATE OF THE 'SKINS

The Redskins probably hoped their game against the winless 49ers would be a bit more comfortable than a 26-24 victory. Still, when they found themselves in a dogfight, they were able to rely on their quality screen game to get them big yardage when needed, and it helped them come out with a big Week 6 win.

For more segments like this, tune in to Redskins Gameplan at 6 p.m. on Thursday.