PHILADELPHIA — Once again the Washington Redskins dug themselves a hole they could not escape.
They came close on Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. But a fourth-quarter rally ended in the arms of Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin in the Philadelphia end zone.
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III’s interception with 24 seconds left halted what would have been a remarkable rally to possibly tie the game from 24-0 down in the second half. The Redskins, instead, lost 24-16.
“We had a certain concept run, and nobody got open, so I was backing up. In a situation there where you get a sack there, it ends the game,” Griffin said. “I tried to throw the ball to the back of the end zone. It didn’t get to where I wanted it to go, I was on my heels …. It’s hard to swallow something like that, but we’ve got to digest it, move on.”
It was little different from a 33-27 loss to the Eagles on Sept. 9 at FedEx Field where a huge early deficit was cut into, but a win ultimately escaped Washington. That Monday night players could look ahead to a long season. There was no such opportunity after this second loss to Philadelphia that left their record at 3-7. Time has all but run out.
“That fourth-quarter team, it’s something that we can do,” said fullback Darrel Young, whose 62-yard touchdown reception at 12:56 of the fourth quarter helped spark the rally. “It’s just frustrating because you work so hard to put yourself in a situation to come back in that game. But like I said, no one gave up in this locker room. That’s all you can count on at this point.”
Young’s unexpected touchdown reception, just the fourth of his career, was followed by a successful two-point conversion to wide receiver Nick Williams. The Redskins forced a punt and eight plays later Washington was in the end zone again on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Aldrick Robinson. Griffin’s two-point run made it a one-score game. Suddenly, the Redskins sideline believed their team could pull off a shocker.
“Absolutely,” tight end Logan Paulsen said. “You score 16 unanswered points, two consecutive two-point conversions. That doesn’t happen every day. So I think we had a lot of momentum, we felt really confident.”
But Paulsen also acknowledged that his team was already fighting an uphill battle. Maybe the offensive numbers in the first half were misleading with just four net passing yards. The Redskins had 160 net rushing yards in the first half, after all. But a Griffin sack and fumble on 2nd-and-goal from the 5 early in the second quarter cost them precious points.
Those mistakes put everything on the final drive down 24-16. A misjudgment by new punt returner Williams allowed a ball to bounce and land at the 4. Washington had 3:26 to play and 96 yards to gain. It seemed hopeless. And then they again showed flashes of offensive potential.
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon caught a nine-yard pass. Santana Moss turned a 3rd-and-10 into a first down with a key catch, He topped himself later in the drive with a 28-yard reception on an impossible 3rd-and-25 play.
A defensive holding call on Philadelphia bailed out the Redskins on another third down. Garcon added a 17-yard catch on another third down and Washington’s comeback was close. But this time a final third-down play went awry on the interception. The rally was over 18 yards and a potential two-point conversion short.
Doomed by a slow start, the Redskins almost found a way to force overtime anyway. They had a chance. What looked like a deflating, blowout loss turned out to be something equally painful – a missed opportunity they couldn’t afford.
“Each one has their own drawbacks,” Paulsen said. “If you lose a close one, we could have had it. If you lose one you get blown out on, you say ‘Why are we getting blown out, what’s the problem with our team.’ Because good teams don’t get blown out. They’re both hard.”