The Washington Redskins looked better on Sunday against the Detroit Lions. They moved the ball better. They looked better against the run. They had a legitimate chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, a combination of penalties, missed tackles and missed opportunities and a continued shaky pass defense led to a 27-20 loss to the Lions, dropping the Skins to 0-3 as they prepare this next week for a cross-country road trip against the Oakland Raiders, which could find the team winless heading into their bye week in Week 5.
Two plays were indicative how this game — really, this season — have gone for the Redskins.
First, Robert Griffin III busted containment and took off scampering down the field, outrunning defenders for 20 yards before deciding that discretion was the better part of valor. Instead of sliding, Griffin went head-first and upon impact, the ball squirted loose to be recovered by a Lions defender.
Later, Aldrick Robinson hauled in a 45-plus yard bomb from Griffin and fell into the end zone, only to have the ball come free upon impact. The pass was ruled incomplete, and for all intents, the game was over at that point.
Yes, the Skins kicked a field goal with 2:16 left that put them down by a touchdown and yes, they had one last Hail Mary attempt that could have tied the game.
But it really wasn’t that close.
We saw on Sunday what an average quarterback could do to the Redskins defense — dead last in the league overall and 30th in the league against both the pass and run.
Matthew Stafford is an average quarterback with a couple of exceptional wideouts. We saw time and again those receivers breaking free against the porous Skins secondary. On occasion, Stafford would hit them in stride for big gains. Sometimes, he’d make a crummy throw that resulted in a modest gain. Sometimes, he’d overthrow, or underthrow, or simply miss the target, as he did on DeAngelo Hall’s pick-six.
But never did the Redskins secondary force or pressure Stafford into doing what he didn’t want to do.
There was some pressure from the front seven on occasion that made Stafford rush a throw here or there. But for the most part, receivers ran open all day long and Stafford either hooked up with them or not.
On offense, Griffin had a better day. There were occasions where the Skins offense looked — dare I say — good. But Griffin had that fumble on an untouched downing of the ball. He threw one of the worst interceptions you’re ever likely to see, flinging the ball in the general direction of a clump of players as he’s being hauled down scrambling. And he’s still just not “there” yet running the ball.
He had a couple of plays where we saw some burst, but he’s also getting chased down by defensive linemen and linebackers all too often.
If this had been the first game of the season, you’d chalk it up to rust and move on. But this can’t be a moral victory even though the Skins had a couple of chances to tie or win this game in the fourth quarter. They needed to win this one. Odds of teams coming from 0-3 to make it to the playoffs are slim, indeed.
They are only two games out of the division after Week 3. Heck, the Giants are 0-3 after embarrassing themselves in Carolina on Sunday. But the Redskins face a cross-country trip to Oakland next week. Sure, the Raiders are no great shakes, but teams historically have trouble flying over three time zones and winning games.
The Skins are staring 0-4 right in the face with the bye week coming up. If someone wanted to make a sacrificial offering going into the bye week, it would be the perfect opportunity. We’re going to find out a lot about this team in the next seven days.