- The Washington Times - Monday, December 24, 2001

In yesterday's crucial game and in this erratic season, the Washington Redskins grabbed control in the latter stages of each only to find that they didn't have the necessary ingredient be it personnel, schemes or determination to finish the job.
Yesterday the Redskins took a third-quarter lead over the Chicago Bears and failed to capitalize on the momentum. Washington yielded a trick-play touchdown in the fourth quarter a scoring pass from punter Brad Maynard to linebacker Brian Urlacher on a fake field goal and sputtered offensively down the stretch in a 20-15 defeat before 78,884 at FedEx Field.
So went the season for the Redskins (6-8), who were eliminated from playoff contention. After winning five straight games to salvage a year that started 0-5, Washington has lost three of four with all three losses coming at home to leave Marty Schottenheimer out of the playoffs for only the fourth time in his 15 full seasons as a coach.
"I'm disappointed," Schottenheimer said. "I'm disappointed for our fans. I'm disappointed for our players, because they have taken every opportunity to do the very best that they can. They've worked their tails off, as has this coaching staff. I've been fortunate. I'm not accustomed to not being in the playoffs. So it's obviously a very, very disappointing thing."
Schottenheimer declined to discuss his job status, which could fall into jeopardy if the Redskins implode in their final two games. Said the coach/director of football operations, who is a year into a four-year, $10 million contract: "First of all, I haven't had a chance to speak to [owner Dan Snyder]. And I'm not interested in commenting on that. All that does is lead to more speculation."
Tampa Bay's win over New Orleans, in a game played simultaneously, made it impossible for the Redskins to reach the postseason after their loss. However, even with a victory Washington would have needed to win out and have the Bucs lose out, because Tampa Bay held advantages in several tiebreakers.
All that is inconsequential now, as are the Redskins' games at New Orleans (Sunday) and against Arizona (Jan. 6) in all but their import to Schottenheimer's future and the players' pride.
"It hurts," offensive tackle Chris Samuels said. "I'm in my second year, and I haven't been to the playoffs. I want to know what it feels like."
It didn't have to be this way. The Redskins took a 13-10 lead over Chicago (11-3) with 4:54 to play in the third quarter and their defense forced a three-and-out. But Washington's offense followed with its own three-and-out, and the Bears drove downfield on a possession that ended with Urlacher's trick-play touchdown.
There remained a good chance for the Redskins to win, trailing 17-13 with 9:55 to play. But their offense had two more three-and-outs and a lengthy drive in the final minutes to Chicago's 3 with 1:45 to play finished short of the end zone when Tony Banks' fourth-and-goal pass sailed wide of Rod Gardner.
It was the fifth time Washington went inside the Bears' 35 without scoring a touchdown. And on four trips into the red zone (inside the 20), Washington scored just one touchdown with two field goals.
"The bottom line is we have to find a way to get the ball in the end zone when we have it inside the 20-yard line," Schottenheimer said. "You can't kick field goals in this league and expect to win against good football teams."
Urlacher's touchdown came on a fake of a 46-yard attempt that could have tied the game 13-13. Instead, Urlacher went into motion from left to right; Maynard, the holder, rolled to the right after getting the snap; and no Redskin followed Urlacher, who was wide open downfield for a 27-yard score.
"When he went in motion, I knew something was up," said Redskins safety Sam Shade, who was trying to get to Maynard on the play. "Nobody alerted it. Nobody came with him. Somebody should have had coverage on him."
Prior to Washington's 13-10 lead, the Bears appeared fairly content to stifle running back Stephen Davis (22 carries, 57 yards, one touchdown) with their third-ranked run defense and drop defenders into coverage against quarterback Tony Banks (23-for-43, 236 yards). But they started blitzing Banks, with great effectiveness, when they fell behind.
The Redskins' offense didn't begin moving again until it got the ball with 3:23 left. On that drive two passes to Gardner, one to Zeron Flemister and a pass interference penalty got Washington a first down at the Bears' 12 with 1:55 to play.
Banks completed a 9-yard pass to Gardner on which linebacker Warrick Holdman was called for holding. The Redskins declined the penalty, leaving them with second-and-1 at the 3, rather than accepting it, which would have meant first-and-goal at the 7.
They never got another first down. Davis was stopped for no gain on second down; Banks' pass to Walter Rasby on third down fell incomplete and would have been for little or no gain; and Banks led Gardner too much on a pass to the back of the end zone on fourth.
"They brought everybody to [the Redskins right] side of the field," Gardner said of the final play. "[The pass] was just too far inside for me to get."
The Bears ran three plays and took a safety on the punt that followed, leaving them up 20-15 with 20 seconds left. On the free kick, Redskins punt returner Eric Metcalf got good yardage by faking a pitch but he fumbled at the end of the return, preventing Washington a last-ditch chance to win.
The Redskins' second half was defined by their offensive ineffectiveness, but their first half came down to missed opportunities.
First the Bears fumbled the opening kickoff and gave Washington the ball 32 yards from the end zone; Banks was sacked on third-and-7 and fumbled back to Chicago. Then in the second quarter the Redskins, tied 10-10, drove to the Bears' 40 with 33 seconds left but Banks spiked the ball on both first and third downs; Schottenheimer declined to attempt a 52-yard field goal into the wind and Banks' fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Washington finished with 17 or less points for the 11th time this season, after entering the game ranked 30th (second to last) in scoring. Summed up Banks: "There aren't too many teams you can beat in this league scoring 13 points."

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