- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — Mike Shanahan furrowed his brow Sunday afternoon while explaining the latest batch of mistakes made by his Washington Redskins. There was the botched field goal attempt as time expired in the first half, the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by one of the team captains and the 190 yards allowed by his defense in the fourth quarter, to name a few. They all showed on his face.

“You can’t go on the road and win games like that,” he lamented.

Shanahan now has a 5-11 record to prove it.

The Redskins stumbled their way through the first three quarters against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday before falling apart in the fourth quarter en route to a 34-10 loss. Their largest defeat of a dreadful campaign gave Shanahan the worst record of his 18-season NFL head coaching career.

Not that the outcome of this one mattered much. Both teams were out of postseason contention at the start of the day, the Redskins long ago eliminated. This contest was about pride and building for the future, and for the visitors there wasn’t much to celebrate.

“Penalties, turnovers, red zone — I mean, we’ve got to play better,” center Will Montgomery said. “It’s just a recipe for a losing team and losing games.”

The Redskins know that well. But in the spirit of New Year’s optimism, though, we’ll start with the positive.

Rookie running back Evan Royster had 113 yards on 20 carries. He persevered through debilitating cramps for his second 100-yard game in as many starts.

“He’s running hard,” right tackle Tyler Polumbus said. “He’s making guys miss. He’s hitting the holes he’s supposed to hit.”

Royster, a sixth-round pick, proved over the last two weeks that he can diagnose cutback lanes and get upfield, although he lacks the top speed to be an explosive, big-play threat.

Add rookie running back Roy Helu’s 47-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, and the Redskins found solace in establishing some depth at one of the offensive skill positions.

“I think we’ve got a lot of promise,” Royster said. “I think we can come out next year and have one of the top running games in the NFL.”

Perhaps, but it will take a lot more than that to fix the Redskins‘ problems.

Take Santana Moss’ game Sunday. Washington’s No. 1 receiver entering the season dropped a potential touchdown pass after he got behind the defense in the first quarter. And then he cost the Redskins points just before halftime by losing his composure.

He believed he was held coming out of his break in the end zone on a sprint-out pass to the right on first-and-goal from the Philadelphia 4-yard line. He took off his helmet to argue the call and was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“I just have to learn how to deal with it and put it behind me,” Moss said. “I’m going to put it behind me and won’t ever think about it again. If something doesn’t go our way, it just ain’t meant.”

Bad turned to worse three plays later. With no time outs and about 10 seconds left in the half, Jabar Gaffney caught a pass in the middle of the field.

The Redskins‘ field goal team scrambled onto the field, but there was confusion among players. It was fourth down, so they couldn’t spike the ball to stop the clock.

“What did we have, like, 5 or 6 seconds left, trying to get the field goal team on?” Montgomery said. “It was just kind of a cluster.”

Despite the gaffes — which included Rex Grossman’s 20th interception — the Redskins trailed only 13-10 early in the fourth quarter. That’s when the Eagles‘ playmakers highlighted the disparity between these teams.

Receiver DeSean Jackson beat double coverage on a post for a 62-yard touchdown.

“He did a better job than me of adjusting to the throw,” safety Oshiomogho Atogwe said. “I read it and I saw it, and he was just able to get to it before I did. I make plays like that, so I’m a little disappointed about it. I’ll learn from it and play it better next time.”

Next time, however, is nine months away. Many names and faces will be different when the Redskins reassemble. That’s how it works after another last-place finish.

“I don’t want this feeling again,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said.

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