- Associated Press - Friday, November 8, 2013

ASHBURN, VA. (AP) - Almost exactly a year ago, when his Redskins fell to 3-6 after an embarrassing loss to a deeply flawed opponent that had one previous victory, coach Mike Shanahan sounded close to throwing in the towel _ and Washington promptly went out and won its next seven games.

Well, here Shanahan and the Redskins are again: They’re 3-6 after an embarrassing loss to a deeply flawed opponent that had one previous victory.

There was no reason to think in 2012 that Washington was ready to go unbeaten the rest of the way in the regular season en route to an NFC East title. And there was little real reason for optimism Friday at Redskins Park, either, based on the team’s latest lead-blowing, mistake-filled performance, a 34-27 defeat at the Minnesota Vikings.

And yet this time, Shanahan sought to put a positive spin on his problematic team. Asked at his news conference Friday whether he was concerned that there are mistakes being made in all phases, Shanahan ignored the premise of the question and launched into a list of what he said were aspects worthy of praise:

_ the offense is “doing some good things” in the running game;

_ “at times, we’ve been very effective” when passing;

_ the defense “played some good halves over the last three or four games”;

_ the special teams “made some strides” and “coverage teams are much better.”

Against Minnesota, though, all of those areas let the Redskins down as they gave up 20 consecutive points after leading 27-14.

The Vikings (2-7), remember, were without more than a half-dozen original starters because of injuries and dressed only 44 players, instead of the allowed 46.

“When we were 3-6 a year ago, we had one goal, and that was to improve and become 4-6,” Shanahan said. “To do that, we have to have a group effort.”

This time, there were no grand pronouncements along the lines of last November, when Shanahan declared after getting beaten 21-13 by Carolina, “You lose a game like that, now you’re playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come. I’ll get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at.”

Shanahan, who is 24-34 with Washington, probably can find plenty of reasons to “evaluate” what happened Thursday.

The “unacceptable” penalties, to use Shanahan’s word, including an unnecessary roughness call on linebacker Perry Riley that set up the Vikings with a first-and-goal at the 2.

The clock-management issues, including when Washington was whistled for delay of game right after spiking the ball. (A week earlier, the Redskins managed a delay of game call right after a timeout.)

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