- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2011

Rex Grossman inhaled deeply late Sunday afternoon before he stared into the cameras and explained the interception that jeopardized the Washington Redskins‘ seven-point fourth-quarter lead over the St. Louis Rams.

All he saw on the play was a wide open Santana Moss, he said. Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, who dropped in coverage and undercut the route, escaped his vision until it was too late.

“I can’t let that happen,” Grossman said. “That’s definitely a mistake on my part.”

To his credit, Grossman has been forthcoming while discussing his gaffes and has taken responsibility for them during the Redskins‘ 3-1 start. The downside is that he has had quite a few opportunities to do so.

Although Washington reached its bye week tied for first place in the NFC East, Grossman has not proved he can escape his reputation as a quarterback prone to turning the ball over. He has five interceptions and two lost fumbles in four games.

And considering the Redskins‘ offense has not accounted for more than 22 points in any game, their fate might just depend on whether Grossman can start protecting the ball.

“You have to have a guy who … knows when he does make mistakes that he’s going to keep on getting better and kind of keep on pushing himself and grinding,” coach Mike Shanahan said Monday.

Perhaps the most distressing element, then, of Grossman’s late interception against the Rams is that he was intercepted on a similar play against Dallas the previous week.

On both occasions, Grossman threw to his left to a receiver he believed was open. Both times he admittedly did not see the inside linebacker who swooped in from the right.

“Some [turnovers] you can avoid, and the ones that I can avoid [I must] continue to get better at,” Grossman said. “The ones that you can’t avoid, that’s part of football. If you want to break those down, too, that might be an interesting stat as well.”

Grossman was defending himself against a stat a reporter mentioned: He has turned the ball over 14 times in seven starts dating to last December.

His point had some merit. On his first interception Sunday, for example, his accurate throw slipped through Moss‘ hands and into cornerback Justin King’s grasp.

And take Grossman’s second interception against Arizona in Week 2. He appeared to lead Anthony Armstrong perfectly over the middle, but Armstrong’s defender held him. The infraction was not penalized, and the ball tipped off Armstrong’s fingers and into the hands of Cardinals defensive back Richard Marshall.

But if you take away those miscues, you must consider the potential interception that Rams safety Darian Stewart dropped just before halftime. He jumped a slant to Moss and the ball hit him in the hands. Stewart might have been returned it for a touchdown, but he dropped it.

In other words, some of Grossman’s turnovers weren’t his fault, but he also has gotten away with some poor decisions that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

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