Bills shut out Redskins 23-0

Offense comes up empty in Shanahan’s first shutout defeat as NFL coach

Washington Redskins quarterback John Beck was sacked nine times by the Buffalo Bills. (Associated Press)Washington Redskins quarterback John Beck was sacked nine times by the Buffalo Bills. (Associated Press)
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TORONTO — You don’t win two Super Bowls and 163 games in an 18-year head coaching career without answers. Mike Shanahan has had them more often than not. Heck, there have even been times when Shanahan, widely regarded as one of the sport’s sharpest offensive minds, has invented new ones.

Yet when he emerged from the Rogers Centre visitors locker room Sunday night, the solutions escaped him. After all, there isn’t much to say when a big, fat zero sits next to your team’s name on the scoreboard.

And for the first time in his 267 games as an NFL coach, he suffered that ignominy in the Washington Redskins‘ 23-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

“It’s pretty humbling to take that,” he said.

How else to describe such a thorough dismantling? Shanahan built a possible Hall of Fame career with his offensive prowess, but now he must deduce how to resurrect a reeling Redskins unit that did nothing right in the team’s third straight loss.

Washington Redskins quarterback John Beck wipes his brow on the sidelines during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Derek Gee)

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Washington Redskins quarterback John Beck wipes his brow on the sidelines during ... more >

The Redskins surrendered nine sacks and gained only 178 yards in one of the franchise’s ugliest games in recent memory. The Redskins (3-4) were shut out for the first time since December 2009. The nine sacks allowed tied a 33-year-old franchise record.

“It’s humbling at times,” left guard Will Montgomery said, using Shanahan’s word. “We were 3-1 and you guys are asking us about playoffs. Now we’re 3-4 and [stuff] is hitting the fan.”

How did it devolve to this point?

“That,” Shanahan said, “is a good question.”

There are so many possible starting points, really.

A crowd of 51,579 filled Rogers Centre to witness NFL football’s only game north of the border this season in the Bills‘ annual series designed to expand their market share here. Fans saw one NFL team that appears to have reversed years of losing and one that appears headed for another disappointing finish.

The Redskins, it seems, didn’t have a passport for offensive execution.

“You think I’m satisfied? We didn’t score a point,” Shanahan bristled. “Obviously I’m very disappointed in our execution, but we’ll go back and work on the execution.”

Pass protection, in particular, was a major problem. Washington’s patchwork offensive line still has not recovered from injuries to starting left tackle Trent Williams and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger two weeks ago. Three second-stringers started up front for the second straight week.

“We have plenty of talent, plenty of ability and some guys that can do some great things,” right guard Chris Chester said, despite Sunday’s evidence to the contrary. “I think it’s just all putting it together consistently. We have great work throughout the week. I think it just comes down to executing on Sunday.”

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