Redskins falter late, fall to Jets 34-19

Opening-drive’s luster doesn’t last as team can’t find end zone again

Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman is sacked by New York Jets defensive end Aaron Maybin forcing a fumble during the second half in Landover, Md., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman is sacked by New York Jets defensive end Aaron Maybin forcing a fumble during the second half in Landover, Md., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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The Washington Redskins reported to work Sunday clinging to a flicker of hope. It wasn’t necessarily about qualifying for the playoffs, mind you. They hoped that what they accomplished offensively the past two weeks was hard evidence that they had distanced themselves from the embarrassments of earlier this season.

That flicker became a bright flame after a dominant opening touchdown drive against the New York Jets.

And then the fire went out.

A combination of individual breakdowns, quality defense and quarterback Rex Grossman’s inaccuracy powered the offense’s reversion to a familiar ineptitude in a 34-19 loss.

“The first half was all right,” Grossman said. “The second half, it was always something. Whether it was a sack on first down that put you behind the chains or — you know, it’s just frustrating.”

New York Jets running back Shonn Greene (23) celebrates his fourth-quarter touchdown that put the Jets up 27-16 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., on Sunday, December 4, 2011. (Preston Keres/For The Washington Times)

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New York Jets running back Shonn Greene (23) celebrates his fourth-quarter touchdown ... more >

Washington’s offense the past two weeks scored at least 23 points in consecutive games for the first time under coach Mike Shanahan. Against New York, however, the problems that doomed this season in October returned.

The Redskins (4-8) committed three turnovers. They had possession inside the Jets‘ 20-yard line on only three series and scored a touchdown only once. They were 5-of-16 on third downs.

That added up to their seventh loss in the past eight games.

“I just thought we were very average collectively on offense,” Shanahan said.

Not at first, though. The Redskins picked up where they left off in the previous week’s 23-17 victory over Seattle. Roy Helu took the ball on the first play from scrimmage and rushed 15 yards through a gaping hole on a stretch play to the right.

Then another run. Then a screen. And then tight end Fred Davis was wide open for a 42-yard gain on a deep throw toward the left sideline. Helu plunged into the end zone four plays later to put Washington ahead, 7-0.

They had marched 82 yards in only eight plays.

“Usually you script your first 15 [plays], and I stayed on schedule and had some great plays and some great runs,” Grossman said. “We were able to score, get a touchdown, which obviously feels good on the first drive.”

He paused.

“But that was the only touchdown of the game — pretty much the reason why we lost.”

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