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Third-down defense was the Redskins‘ demise. The Dolphins entered the game last in the NFL converting only 26 percent of their third downs, but they were 8 of 14 (57 percent).

Various breakdowns kept the Redskins from getting off the field. First, let’s go back to the play I alluded to in OLB Brian Orakpo’s write-up above: Third-and-4 from the Washington 40-yard line. QB Matt Moore completed a 26-yard pass to WR Brandon Marshall down the middle.

Marshall lined up inside near the right tackle with CB DeAngelo Hall covering him. Orakpo, meanwhile, took his usual position on the right edge of the defense.

In an attempt to mix up looks, I guess, coaches called for Hall to blitz off the corner, giving Marshall a free run down the middle of the field. Vertical routes by receivers on the outside split the safeties. That left Orakpo dropping down the middle to try to prevent a completion to Marshall.

Orakpo gave a valiant effort — he jumped and the ball sailed just out of his reach — but that’s asking a lot of him. You’d think the higher-percentage play there is to have your Pro Bowl cornerback run with the two-time Pro Bowl receiver instead of asking your outside linebacker, who doesn’t excel in coverage, to drop 15 yards from across the formation. Again, I’m eager to follow up on that one this week.

Another third-down failure: Third-and-8 from the Miami 31; Redskins trailing 13-9 with 10:20 remaining. Washington desperately needed the ball back behind by only one score.

The Dolphins lined Marshall and WR Brian Hartline up wide left; CBs Byron Westbrook and Kevin Barnes covered them. TE Anthony Fasano had his hand down on the left side of the formation, as well. All three ran vertical routes. ILB London Fletcher showed blitz but dropped in coverage alongside Fasano. But when Fasano stopped near the yard-to-gain, Fletcher kept dropping. Barnes didn’t come off Hartline in time to jump the throw to Fasano inside. The 11-yard completion was too easy.


ILB Perry Riley was exciting to watch in his first start. He constantly was around the ball; he diagnosed two screens on which he darted behind the blockers out in front of the play.

Also, he plays faster than ILB Rocky McIntosh. He chased RB Reggie Bush down on a pitch to the left, strung the play out and didn’t let Bush turn the corner. Bush gained only 1 yard. Riley later hit QB Matt Moore on a blitz up the middle after he faked Bush out with a jab step in the backfield.

Without being certain about Riley’s assignments on each play, there appeared times when he either filled the wrong gap or ran with the wrong receiver. That’s to be expected, though, for a player in his first start. As Mike Shanahan would say, Riley made his mistakes at 100 miles per hour. That the instincts and physical talent were evident is the main takeaway from his game. He’ll sharpen his play if given a chance during the final seven games.

• It was an uneven collective performance by the Redskins‘ cornerbacks. CB DeAngelo Hall gave up at least two downfield completions after turning his hips the wrong way and having to circle his whole body around. He had two nice run fits, though.

CB Kevin Barnes had an interception, and he and Hall jumped a wide receiver screen to get the Redskins off the field on a third down in the second half. But WR Davone Bess beat him for a 23-yard gain out of the slot on third-and-10. Bess got an inside release with some quick footwork off the line, and Barnes‘ attempt to jam him was ineffective.

CB Josh Wilson broke up three passes. He drove on an early slant, dove to break up a drag route and used his body well to box out WR Brandon Marshall on a fade into the end zone in the first half.

Dolphins QB Matt Moore dropped back to pass 32 times. The Redskins rushed four defenders 17 times; five defenders 13 times; and seven defenders twice.

Against four rushers, Moore was 12-of-16 for 109 yards, an interception and sack; a passer rating of 66.9.

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