- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Mo. The stage was set for another miracle finish.

The Redskins trailed by a touchdown in one of the NFL’s most hostile environments. They had no timeouts remaining and just 106 seconds on the clock, and they stood 78 yards from the goal line.

No big deal, right?

After all, this was the team that needed just 71 seconds to turn a shutout loss in Dallas into a victory. This was the team that drove 55 yards to beat Seattle in overtime and rallied for 10 points in five minutes in the driving rain in Denver to come within a missed 2-point conversion of forcing overtime again.

But it was not to be yesterday. Mark Brunell marched Washington to the Kansas City 33 with 38 seconds to play, but an overthrow, two more incompletions along the sideline and a final pass tipped away in the end zone left the Redskins 28-21 losers.

Q: Yeah, yeah. I saw the game. The Redskins shut down the unstoppable Priest Holmes on the ground and turned dangerous weapons Tony Gonzalez and Dante Hall into nonfactors — and still lost. How is that possible?

A: Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. And we’re not talking apple-filled desserts. For the fifth consecutive week, Washington lost the turnover battle.

The difference yesterday was that the turnover margin was minus-3 (compared to minus-5 in the first four games combined) and safety Sammy Knight took one of the fumbles 80 yards to the house.

Q: And, of course, the Chiefs weren’t so butter-fingered.

A: Not exactly. They just didn’t turn the ball over. Trent Green fumbled the snap and fell on it. Sean Taylor popped the ball loose from Holmes, but it went right into Gonzalez’s hands.

Q: Speaking of bad luck, how does Brunell pass like Johnny Unitas in his prime but lose two fumbles?

A: Brunell took the blame for not doing a better job of protecting the ball, but previously little-known Chiefs end Jared Allen was just too much for Redskins tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen.

Q: I thought Clinton Portis owned the Chiefs. He had 559 yards and 10 touchdowns in four games against them when he was with the Broncos. What’s up with C.P.?

A: Whether it’s the offensive system or nagging injuries, Portis is simply not the home run back he was in Denver.

Portis ran 64 yards to the end zone on his first carry as a Redskin, but he since has carried 446 times and has only one run longer than 22 yards. And, he’s scored just four touchdowns — all last season.

He’s actually more of a big-play threat as a receiver these days.

Q: How come almost all of the Redskins’ injuries are in the secondary? First, safety Ryan Clark, then safety Pierson Prioleau, then cornerback Walt Harris and now corner Shawn Springs and Clark again.

A: It’s weird how that happens sometimes. In 1992, the last season of Gibbs’ first go-round, the Redskins had to start linebackers off the street named Tony Barker and John Brantley.

When Washington last came to Kansas City in 1995, its top receivers were hurt, leaving Gus Frerotte with such forgettable targets as Olanda Truitt and Tydus Winans.

Q: Was that LaVar playing special teams?

A: Yes, your favorite player made the leap into special teams duty on a couple of punt returns, including the one with less than two minutes left.

But Arrington was nowhere to be seen on defense for a second consecutive week.

Q: So is Arrowhead Stadium as loud as it’s said to be?

A: The pregame ovation for retired Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers, a Kansas City native, was louder than many players receive elsewhere around the league.

It’s like a college atmosphere, with the overwhelmingly red-clad crowd yelling “first down” when prompted by the public address announcer.

Q: Realistically, only total homers would have picked the Redskins to win in Denver or Kansas City before the season started. How much does yesterday’s loss hurt Washington’s playoff chances?

A: Not badly. First, it’s a nonconference loss so it doesn’t affect any tiebreakers except total points. Second, while the Cowboys moved ahead of the Redskins into the NFC East lead by beating the Giants, that was actually better than a New York victory because Washington has the head-to-head advantage on Dallas because of its victory in Texas Stadium.

Philadelphia still has to be favored to defend its NFC East title.

Q: Does the losing stop this Sunday?

A: Mike Nolan is a bright, hard-working coach and the 49ers will be well-rested after their bye week. But the Redskins are much better than the 49ers, especially at home. This should be Washington’s first relatively easy game.

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