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Defensive lapses hurt Redskins in 31-23 loss to Cardinals

Defensive lapses hurt Redskins in 31-23 loss to Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ— The Redskins went into Arizona looking to improve their playoff status but they ended up taking one on the chin. A cold start by the offense, an inability of the defense to get third-down stops, and a key third-quarter turnover that the Cardinals turned into a touchdown proved to be too much to overcome and they left University of Phoenix Stadium with a 31-23 loss.

Kirk Cousins had a rough first half, passing for just 89 yards. When his passes weren’t getting batted at the line he was throwing off the mark. The Redskins trailed 10-6 at intermission. But on the second play of the half Cousins hit DeSean Jackson in stride with a 59-yard bomb down to the Cardinals five. Three play later the Redskins scored a touchdown to take the lead for the first time at 13-10.

The Cardinals missed a long field goal and it looked like the Redskins had a chance to take control. But a play after left tackle Ty Nsekhe left the game with an ankle injury, Cousins was sacked and fumbled. The Cardinals recovered and returned the ball to the 10. Three plays later they were in the end zone and the Redskins trailed again.

But Washington fought back, driving to a touchdown pass from Cousins to Jamison Crowder and they had a 20-17 lead going into the fourth quarter. Washington answered a Cardinals touchdown with a field goal and it was 24-23 with 6:01 to go.

The Redskins had a chance to make a huge play when the Cardinals went for it with half a yard to go but David Johnson bolted for 14 yards. A few plays later the Redskins had a chance on third down but defensive holding negated an incompletion and Arizona kept possession. They wrapped it up two plays later on a deep Palmer touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson.

The Redskins had one last chance to tie it up with a TD and a two-point conversion but after they drove down to the Arizona 34 Cousins was hit while throwing and Patrick Peterson made a diving interception.

The loss dropped the Redskins' record to 6-5-1. They travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles next Sunday.

Injury Updates:

C Spencer Long left the game to be evaluated for a concussion in the second quarter. He was cleared but was held out for a shoulder injury, return questionable. However, Long was reevaluated at halftime and was found to have a concussion. John Sullivan took his place at center.

OT Ty Nsekhe left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. His return was announced as questionable. He returned the next series.

S Will Blackmon left the game in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury.

Scoring drives:  

First quarter           

Johnson 1 run (Catanzaro kick)

Drive: The Cardinals took the opening kickoff and moved right in for a score. They got their main offensive weapons going early, with David Johnson gaining 10 yards on a run and then Larry Fitzgerald picked up 12 on a wide receiver screen. Carson Palmer converted a third and 11 with a pass to Johnson for 13 yards into Redskins territory. Another third down was converted on a pass from Palmer to Jermaine Gresham that set up first and goal at the one. Two plays later, Jonson went up the middle for the touchdown.

Drive summary: 15 plays, 75 yards, 8:17

Cardinals 7, Redskins 0 6:43

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Second quarter

FG Hopkins 47

Drive: 7 plays, 40 yards, 3:33

Drive summary: The Redskins offense had been sputtering but they got it going to this drive. First Cousins flipped a short pass that Chris Thompson turned into a 21-yard gain into Arizona territory. On the next play Rob Kelley bolted up the middle for 19 yards. But the drive stalled and Hopkins came in to boot the field goal.

Cardinals 7, Redskins 3 9:48

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FG Hopkins 20

Drive: 11 plays, 47 yards, 5:26

Drive summary: The Redskins got good field position after a poor punt, starting at the Arizona 48. Cousins converted a third and four with a pass to Pierre Garçon for nine yards. Then a Cousins to Ryan Grant pass picked up another first down at the 18. Two plays later it was Cousins to Grant again for 13 yards to the one-yard line. But they couldn’t punch it in and had to settle for another field goal.  

Cardinals 7, Redskins 6 1:52

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FG Catanzaro 28

Drive: 12 plays, 65 yards, 1:45

Drive summary: The Cardinals got this late drive going with a pass from Palmer to Fitzgerald for 23 yards. Later on third and 12 from the Redskins 41, Palmer found David Johnson over the middle for 23 yards to the 18. The Cardinals ran out of time and had to settle for the field goal.

Cardinals 10, Redskins 6 1:45

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Third quarter

Cousins 1 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 5 plays, 74 yards, 2:24

Drive summary: The Redskins got this one started when Cousins dodged a rusher and fired to Garçon for a gain of 10. On the next play Cousins launched a deep pass to DeSean Jackson, who tracked it down for 59 yards to the Arizona five. Three plays later Cousins snuck it into the end zone from the one and Washington had the lead for the first time.

Redskins 13, Cardinals 10 12:36

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Floyd 6 pass from Palmer (Catanzaro kick)

Drive: 3 plays, 10 yards, 0:51

Drive summary: A sack and strip of Cousins sent the ball flying. Arizona linebacker Markus Golden scooped up the loose ball and returned it 20 yards to the Washington 10. On third down from the six, Palmer went to Floyd for the touchdown.

Cardinals 17, Redskins 13

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Crowder 26 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 3:04

Drive summary: After the sudden change with the sack and strip, the Redskins’ offense got going again. A 28-yard pass from Cousins to Pierre Garçon got the Redskins into Arizona territory and then a nimble 16-yard Chris Thompson run got a first down at the 26. Three plays later Cousins found Jamison Crowder open for the touchdown.

Redskins 20, Cardinals 17 1:06

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Fourth quarter

Johnson 25 pass from Palmer (Catanzaro kick)

Drive: 10 plays, 75 yards, 4:57

Drive summary: The Cardinals sustained their knack for converting third downs on this one. First Palmer went to Fitzgerald for three yards on third and three and then to Gresham for nine on third and eight. Another Gresham pass and a 13-yard Johnson run moved the Cardinals to a first down in Washington territory at the 43. A few plays later, Johnson took a short pass from Palmer and picked his way 25 yards for the touchdown.

Cardinals 24, Redskins 20 11:09

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FG Hopkins 53

Drive: 10 plays, 40 yards, 5:08

Drive summary: The Redskins again answered an Arizona TD with a scoring drive. Rob Kelly got it started with a 10-yard run up the middle and then Cousins went to Crowder for 14. They converted a third and two with a seven-yard connection between Cousins and Vernon Davis. The drive stalled and Hopkins came in a boomed a 53-yard field goal to make it a one-point game.

Cardinals 24, Redskins 23 6:01

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Kelley 4 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 4:05

Drive summary: The Cardinals converted a fourth down with a Johnson run and a third down on a penalty. That set up the Cardinals’ chance to end it and they did when Palmer hit J.J. Nelson on a 42-yard touchdown pass.

Cardinals 31, Redskins 23 1:56

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Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

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USA TODAY Sports

Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

More than 100 days remain before the Redskins take the field in meaningful NFL action.

Any and all excitement needs to be tempered, significantly, because what happens on a practice field in May without pads does not represent what will happen in September, October and beyond. 

Still, the Redskins group that took the field this week for OTAs showed promise. 

New quarterback Alex Smith looked crisp, connecting with a variety of wideouts and commanding the huddle. New wideout Paul Richardson made the best play of the session when he streaked down the field past rookie cornerback Greg Stroman and hauled in a deep pass from Smith. The play showed Smith's ability to identify open receivers downfield, as well as Richardson's ability to go up and grab a contested catch. Even Stroman, the seventh-round rookie, positioned himself well, he just fell victim to a perfect pass and tremendous athleticism.

That was only one play in a two-hour session. Again, don't take too much from May, when players don't wear pads or engage in any of the violence that the NFL is predicated upon. But the OTAs do serve a purpose, both for players and coaches, and there were nuggets to absorb and try to project for the fall. Here they are:

  • Jay Gruden made clear he's not concerned about the health of his offensive line. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are recuperating from offseason surgery, but Gruden believes both are on track for when things start to matter. It's a good thing the coach isn't concerned because this was the 'Skins line in OTAs (left to right): Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, John Kling. Should that lineup take the field this fall, there will be trouble. 
     
  • The Redskins lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason, and the secondary depth will be something to watch throughout training camp. At OTAs, newly signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick lined up opposite Josh Norman in the team's base 3-4 defense. In nickel and dime coverage, Quinton Dunbar lined up opposite Norman and Scandrick moved to the slot. As things progress, it will be interesting to see if Dunbar surpasses Scandrick in base coverage, and what becomes of 2017 third-round pick Fabian Moreau. Stay tuned.  
     
  • Rookie running back Derrius Guice looked every part of the first-round talent many judged him to be before draft season rumors caused him to slide to the late second round. Guice cuts with authority and is able to see holes before they form and patiently wait to hit the open space. Guice also looked fine in pass-catching drills, one area that was a question coming out of LSU (but that says more about LSU's prehistoric offense). Watching the Redskins offense work, it seems clear Guice will be the heaviest used runner this fall.
     
  • That said, don't count out Robert Kelley. He looks leaner and plenty quick, showing a few impressive runs during the session. Byron Marshall also looked good, and Gruden pointed out his success in his post-OTA press conference. The running back group will have plenty of competition all the way through Richmond. 
     
  • Jonathan Allen has switched jersey numbers from 95 to 93. Rookie Daron Payne is now wearing 95. Payne and Allen both went to Alabama, both are huge, and both play defensive line. The number switch will take some getting used to. 
     
  • Zach Brown missed the OTA session as he was moving, and interestingly in his spot with the starting defense was Josh Harvey-Clemons. The second-year pro out of Louisville showed impressive speed in coverage, and remember he played safety in college and performed quite well. He has ball skills and great size to be a coverage linebacker. Some were surprised when the Redskins kept JHC last season at the cut to 53, but his development appears to be paying off for the organization. 
     
  • Another linebacker that made a play was Zach Vigil. He impressed for the Redskins late last season and was running the Washington second-team defensive huddle. At one point, Vigil broke through the line of scrimmage and blew up a run play. That prompted D.J. Swearinger to yell from the sideline, "OK Zach. OK ZACH!"
     
  • Speaking of Swearinger, the Redskins defensive captain seemed in midseason form when it comes to yelling encouragement on the field. Nobody hypes up the defense like Swearinger, particularly when the secondary makes a big play. On one pass Dunbar made a nice diving play to break up a pass, and Swearinger and Josh Norman got very fired up, shouting and jumping around. The entire defense responded. Little stuff like that helps disrupt the monotony of offseason work. 
     
  • Jamison Crowder looks jacked and quick. The end. 

 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

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NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 25, 62 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Trades, misses and mistakes explain Redskins' dead cap—This post does a good job of outlining where the Redskins’ dead cap came from. It should be noted that dead cap is a part of the cost of doing business in the NFL and the Redskins have done fairly well managing it this year. Only about a dozen teams have less dead cap on the books than the Redskins $5.2 million. 

Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins—I received some comments saying that my worst-case scenario, a 6-10 finish, is not low enough. Since we’re talking about events that won’t begin to happen for about three and a half months, I can’t really argue with them. But it’s just hard for me to see them dropping more than a game from last year when they were hit harder with injuries than any other team in the NFL. 

Pre-OTAs Redskins player one-liners, defense—An extension for Matt Ioannidis seemed preposterous a year ago, now it seems like a good idea. How many sacks for Lanier? When will Ryan Anderson get his first sack? Plus offensive player one-liners here

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp—You can’t tell everything from OTAs, but you can tell some things. Taking another look at this post, I gave a good, detailed look at the session, but I didn’t really mention the overall feel, which was fun and energetic. 

Tweet of the week

Certainly, Derrius Guice is the fan favorite of the rookie class. But the great reaction to this tweet shows that there is plenty of love for Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, last year’s top pick. 

In 2016, the starting defensive line consisted of Ricky Jean Francois, Chris Baker, and  Ziggy Hood. The top reserve was Cullen Jenkins. They all had their good qualities and made some plays. But Baker was the youngster of the group and he turned 30 during the season. It clearly was a group on the decline. 

Two years later, the picture is quite different. Payne and Allen lead a younger group that will get better over the next few years. Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Tim Settle, and Stacy McGee should round out the group. McGee is by far the senior member of the group at age 28. None of the others have celebrated his 25thbirthday yet. 

Fans should perhaps temper their optimism with the knowledge that potential doesn’t always develop into performance. But unlike years past there is something to look forward to. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 18
—Training camp starts (7/26) 62
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 76

The Redskins last played a game 145 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 107 days. 

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