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Redskins plagued by erratic kicking to the end
PHILADELPHIA — The Washington Redskins practice rushed field goals every week, and on a normal occasion they have no problem setting up and snapping the ball with room to spare.
Then there was Sunday, when a series of problems cost them dearly. First it was a headset malfunction, and then a series of unfortunate events, and the result was the clock hitting zeros instead of the Redskins cashing in on a valuable opportunity at the end of the first half.
"I don't know," quarterback Rex Grossman said. "I don't need to drill that point home: It was obviously mismanagement by the headset, myself and we couldn't get the field goal."
It was a fitting moment of incompetence for the Redskins in their season-ending 34-10 loss and a glaring episode in a season's worth of field goal follies that included five blocked attempts.
This blunder was the final one and proved costly. Set up with excellent field position by a Brian Orakpo sack, the Redskins were in the red zone trailing 10-0 with no timeouts left and had a chance to finally get on the board.
Coach Mike Shanahan said the team's headset devices malfunctioned, and Grossman hooked up with Jabar Gaffney on a completion to the Philadelphia 7 to face fourth-and-goal with the clock melting away. That wasn't supposed to happen.
"The only thing I heard was the play and ran it like we would run the play," Grossman said. "But there was a tag to throw it to someone we're not really looking at in the back of the end zone or throw it away."
The clock showed roughly 11 seconds, which should have been plenty of time to set up for a 24-yard Graham Gano chip shot. Long snapper Nick Sundberg tried to get into position, but center Will Montgomery was out there, too. Sundberg started sprinting off, and the opportunity to get a quick snap and three points was gone.
"When I got on the field, Monty was standing over the ball with his hand on the ball and I heard people yelling, 'Spike.' I knew it was fourth down, but it just created a bunch of confusion," Sundberg said. "I turned around to run off thinking I made a mistake instead of just trusting myself. And it cost us."
Shanahan called it "a little mix-up there relative to communication," and Montgomery said it was "just kind of a cluster."
"I wasn't sure," a stumbling Montgomery said. "We had a fast field goal with, like, 6 seconds to go, so I wasn't sure exactly what we were going to do there."
A familiar problem came up earlier in the second as Derek Landri blocked a field goal attempt, making the Redskins the first team since 1997 to have five blocked in a season.
"I don't think I've ever seen three [in a season]," Shanahan said. "That really hurt us this year."
Again, this one was not on Gano, who was told by Sundberg and holder Sav Rocca that his kick was high enough. Lineman Tyler Polumbus was bowled over on the play.
"I've just got to stay low and make sure that guy doesn't get through," Polumbus said.
Gano generally was positive about his season, but then there was the issue of the blocked kicks.
"I think we actually had seven blocked, but two of them went in," Gano said. "It's frustrating, but there's not much you can do about it."
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