- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — Even as the Washington Redskins‘ offense sputtered, holding a potent Philadelphia Eagles team down for three quarters was an encouraging sign. But the fourth quarter was a discouraging end to a season that could be described using the same vocabulary.

After limiting the third-ranked offensive team in the NFL to just 13 points and 200 yards through three quarters, the Redskins collapsed in the final 15 minutes. The Eagles rolled up 190 yards and 21 points, turning a tight game into a 34-10 rout.

“Things just got out of hand,” linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said.

It speaks to a season’s worth of defensive breakdowns, as this was the fifth time the Redskins allowed 33 or more points.

“It’s definitely not what we hang our hat on defensively,” Kerrigan said. “We’ve got to do better than that.”

When star linebacker Brian Orakpo left at halftime with a pectoral muscle injury, things started to go wrong. But the Redskins made it a one-score game going into the fourth quarter.

“I thought we were still in this game,” Orakpo said. “But obviously it went downhill from there.”

A 27-yard field goal early in the fourth made it 13-10, but it only took one strike to deflate the Redskins.

Michael Vick connected with DeSean Jackson on a 62-yard touchdown with 12:12 left and spelled the start of the collapse. Soon after, Vick engineered a six-play, 65-yard drive to break the game open.

Middle linebacker London Fletcher pointed to Philadelphia’s max protecting and Vick’s ability to get the ball out quickly. Not having Orakpo in the game with his pass-rushing threat also hurt, but it was still hard to explain what went wrong.

“I don’t know. That’s tough. That’s a tough Eagles offense,” Orakpo said. “Even though we were getting off the field, they just kept putting wrinkles here and big plays. Big plays was one thing that kind of killed us.”

Things got ugly quick, as the Redskins couldn’t muster much offense and finished the season with a thud. And while Orakpo believes in a bright future built on young players such as Kerrigan and linebacker Perry Riley, he took responsibility on behalf of his teammates for needing to execute better.

“It’s not on the coaches at all,” he said. “They’re calling the greatest game, and we just have to make sure everybody trusts each other and everybody plays their assignment and get off the field.”

That did not happen Sunday, which provided a final example of the Redskins‘ season-long inconsistency.

“We’ve got to learn from it and continue to play for four quarters. That’s something that we struggled with sometimes as a team — we don’t know how to finish,” Orakpo said. “As good teams do, you have to know how to finish for four quarters. And be consistent week in and week out.”