CARSON CITY, CA—A bottle of water sat on the podium where Jay Gruden stood to deliver the postmortem on the Redskins’ second straight ugly loss. It’s up there for every press conference in view of the cameras to promote the brand. About halfway through the press conference, the bottle fell off of the podium onto the floor.
Apparently, the bottle decided that the brand was not being helped by being associated with this debacle.
For a short while, it looked like the Redskins might be able to keep the game from turning ugly. They might be had a chance to overcome a rocky start that included Chargers scoring drives of 60 and 92 yards during which the Washington defense offered little resistance and an ugly interception thrown by Kirk Cousins that set up a field goal.
The Redskins responded, driving 77 yards in nine plays for a touchdown. Cousins hit on some key passes and Samaje Perine tore off a few nice runs. The TD came on third down when Cousins bought time, rolled to his right, and hit Vernon Davis at the goal line. Even though the extra point was missed, it was 13-6 and if the defense could just get a stop after the kickoff . . .
But the glimmer of hope was short-lived. On the first play after the kickoff, Philip Rivers dropped back and found Tyrell Williams on a deep post with a few steps on Josh Norman. The pass was perfect and all of a sudden it was 20-6.
“That’s been the story right now,” said Gruden. “As soon as we make a big play, they answer with a bigger play and we can’t get momentum back. This game is about momentum and we had it for about four seconds. Then we miss the extra point and they throw a bomb on the next play. Unfortunately, this game is about momentum swings and we had it for 30 seconds.”
Gruden said his team had momentum for four seconds and 30 seconds so let’s see here. Davis scored with 10:13 left in the second quarter and Williams crossed the goal line with 10:02 left. So, the Redskins were within one score for 11 seconds.
Washington did have a chance to respond but they gave the ball up on downs on their next possession. The next seven times they had the ball they punted without moving the ball into Chargers territory even once. They didn’t score again until Bashaud Breeland picked off a Kellen Clemons pass and went 96 yards for a touchdown with 2:36 left in the game.
Momentum is supposedly fickle and changing jerseys often during the course of an NFL game. But except for those 11 seconds, Big Mo wore the blue shirts of the Chargers. Unless the Redskins can figure out how to change that starting next Sunday against the Cardinals, the last three weeks of the season will be very, very long.