- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 13, 2011

First quarter

A quarterback change produced the same result in the opening quarter, though the key breakdowns for Rex Grossman were also indicative of why John Beck didn’t succeed under center. Namely: problems at other positions. On the opening drive of the game, Grossman was sacked for an 11-yard loss on third-and-4 when Karlos Dansby strolled by Sean Locklear. The next time Washington had the ball, a drive that had been humming along was derailed when Jared Odrick stopped Maurice Hurt for a 12-yard loss on third-and-2. The latter sack made Graham Gano’s field goal attempt a 50-yarder, and he missed it wide left. Gano later made a 26-yarder, but the Redskins emerged from the period in a hole thanks to a Reggie Bush TD that capped Miami’s opening drive. The Washington defense tightened up after that, with Perry Riley making a handful of big plays in his first start and Kevin Barnes picking off Matt Moore late in the quarter.

Second quarter

The difference with Grossman under center as opposed to Beck is obvious, at least when it comes to what the Redskins think they can do offensively. If nothing else, the offense was more interesting to watch – and gave the opposing defense a lot more to think about – than the dink-and-dunk display a week earlier against the 49ers. Not that it made much of a difference, of course. The flip side of Grossman’s ability and willingness to throw the ball downfield is his tendency to have it picked off – even if it isn’t necessarily his fault. That surfaced again Sunday when a promising drive came to an end as Grossman’s pass for Leonard Hankerson was intercepted by Vontae Davis at the Dolphins’ 25 when Hankerson fell down. That turnover led only to a missed field goal, though, and when Gano redeemed himself with a 47-yarder the Redskins were able to enter halftime knowing they were in the game.

Third quarter

If ever the Redskins were going to seize the advantage, this was their opportunity. Ryan Kerrigan forced a fumble on the Dolphins’ second play from scrimmage after halftime and Stephen Bowen recovered it, setting the Redskins up at Miami’s 24 with another easy opportunity to punch it in. But a holding penalty on Trent Williams and subsequent 6-yard loss on a pass to Fred Davis stalled the Redskins’ momentum and they ended up settling for another Gano field goal. It wasn’t what they wanted or needed, but at least it narrowed the margin to one at 10-9. All they had to do was come up with a big play – on offense or defense – and the game was there for the taking. Following with the trend from the fifth game of the season on, though, Washington failed to do so. Miami ate up a good chunk of the quarter with an 11-play drive that ended in a field goal and Washington had no answer.

Fourth quarter

Perhaps the remarkable aspect of the Redskins’ play in recent weeks is the feeling that emerges whenever they face even a slight deficit. NFL teams down 14 points or fewer with more than four minutes to play in a game shouldn’t appear hopeless, but these Redskins do. Once the Dolphins scored their second touchdown of the day, with Bush running it in from 18 yards out on a drive that followed Grossman’s interception near the opposite goal line, Washington was toast – and the margin was merely 20-9 with 6:07 to play. Sure, with Grossman in there, the Redskins seemed to have a better chance to rally than the week before, but any of the confidence that might actually occur was not evident. Though Washington got big assists from a roughing the passer flag and an offside penalty that wiped out what would have been a second consecutive sack, the Redskins had to settle for a Gano field goal attempt. Naturally, he missed.

Key play

Trailing 13-9 early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins finally had some forward momentum going and were poised to take the lead with first down from the Dolphins’ 10. As Rex Grossman dropped back, he looked to his left with his eyes locked on Jabar Gaffney all the way. Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby noticed that, too, and jumped the route with little trouble to pick the ball off at Miami’s 5 and return it to the 19. The Dolphins marched the length of the field from there to put away the game with a TD.