The Washington Redskins lost three fumbles in their 19-17 defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. They also dropped several balls, made glaring errors on special teams and were penalized seven times.
It was cornerback Leigh Torrence, however, who committed the mistake that proved decisive.
Torrence was beaten by rookie receiver Donnie Avery for a 43-yard catch that set up a 49-yard game-winning field goal by Josh Brown as time expired.
The frustrated Torrence dashed out of the FedEx Field locker room after the game without speaking to reporters, but after a generally sleepless night he was ready to talk.
“I’ve been thinking about it pretty much nonstop since,” Torrence said. “I’m in man-to-man coverage, and you know they’re going to try to take a shot. He’s one of their deep threats. I was just trying to make a play on the ball. I wasn’t able to come up with it. I definitely could’ve been a hero. That’s kind of the life you live out there on the corner.”
Cornerback Fred Smoot, who wasn’t on the field on the play because he had injured his groin, said Torrence was in a tough spot because the pass from Marc Bulger was underthrown.
“The underthrown ball - that’s the most dangerous ball to a cornerback,” Smoot said. “[The receiver] can judge it, and we can’t. Nine times out of 10 it’s gonna be a [defensive] pass interference or he’s going to have a better chance to catch the ball than we do.”
The absence of Smoot and injured safety Reed Doughty forced the Redskins to play little-used rookie Kareem Moore in the dime package with the Rams facing third-and-13 at the St. Louis 41 with just 1:13 left.
Moore was assigned to cover running back Steven Jackson, but Jackson stayed in to block. In that case, Moore was supposed to blitz, but he neither blitzed nor raced back to help in coverage.
“[Kareem] got stuck in the mud six feet behind the line of scrimmage,” coach Jim Zorn said. “He kind of did one of these deals where he’s looking for somebody. The quarterback came his way - he would of had a chance to have a nice shot on him.”
Cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray also declined to blame Torrence, whose tip of a Kurt Warner bomb intended for Steve Breaston led to a critical interception by Carlos Rogers in the 24-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 21.
“When you let teams that you’re supposed to [beat] hang around, one play can beat you. And guess what? That’s the one play,” Gray said. “Leigh had him covered good. If the ball had been thrown correctly, he probably makes the play. … Kareem was supposed to be a blitzer. Is [Jackson] coming or not coming out? You pick up tips from film. Young guys learn from mistakes. Hopefully this one won’t show anymore.”
Running back Ladell Betts underwent an MRI on his sprained knee Monday, and his status for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns is uncertain.
Offensive tackle Chris Samuels has mild sprains of a medial collateral ligament and an ankle. Receiver James Thrash, who was hit in the back by teammate Antwaan Randle El, also has a sprained knee, and safety Chris Horton has a sprained ankle. All should play against the Browns, as should Smoot.
Strongside linebacker Marcus Washington (hamstring), left tackle Cornelius Griffin (shoulder), cornerback Shawn Springs (calf) and defensive end Jason Taylor (calf) each made it through the Rams game without a setback and should be ready for Cleveland.
Zorn said he foresees a competition between Jon Jansen and Stephon Heyer at right tackle when Heyer shows he can “explode” again after suffering a sprained right shoulder that sidelined him the past three games. The coach last week had maintained the job was Heyer’s.
Malcolm Kelly’s surgically repaired left knee was drained of fluid twice last week. That prompted Zorn to say the Redskins might consider placing the rookie receiver, who has just one catch, on injured reserve at some point.