- The Washington Times - Monday, December 7, 2009

It was probably the weirdest game in Washington’s 13 seasons at FedEx Field and one of the strangest in Redskins history.

The nothing-to-play-for Redskins had the unbeaten New Orleans Saints in trouble almost from the start, scoring the game’s first 10 points. Washington was still on top by 10 midway through the fourth quarter despite ridiculous gaffes by little-used rookie Kevin Barnes and second-year backup Kareem Moore.

But the Redskins, as bad teams will, still found a way to lose, falling 33-30 in overtime thanks largely to critical failures by snapper Ethan Albright and fullback Mike Sellers, both Pro Bowl performers, and Shaun Suisham, the most reliable kicker the franchise has ever had.

So in the end, it was just another defeat in a season chock full of them as the Redskins head to perhaps their worst record in 15 years.

Q: I don’t believe what I just saw. How the heck did this happen?

A: It happened because Albright made a bad snap that was as rare as a Redskins playoff victory, because Suisham missed inside 30 yards for the first time and because the burly Sellers fumbled for the first time this year.

Q: You said this was the weirdest game ever at FedEx Field. What about the Gus Frerotte head-butt game?

A: That was weird, too, but the head-butt and Michael Westbook ripping his helmet off for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that pushed his team out of field goal range were the only gaffes. This one had more bizarre plays - and they prevented the reeling Redskins from beating the NFL’s top team.

Q: Why did I feel like I’d seen this game before, though?

A: It was reminiscent of the 37-34 overtime loss to Arizona in 1996, the final season at RFK Stadium, when Washington’s Scott Blanton seemingly won the game with an overtime field goal only to have Scott Galbraith be called for holding. The kick became a 48-yarder, which Blanton missed. The Cardinals won behind Boomer Esiason’s staggering 522 passing yards. No quarterback had passed for 400 yards against the Redskins since until Drew Brees threw for 419 on Sunday.

Q: Do you remember the Redskins ever losing three straight heartbreakers like this?

A: There have been plenty of tough three-game stretches. Remember Dallas, Tampa Bay and Buffalo without Sean Taylor in 2007 and Tampa Bay, Oakland and San Diego in 2005? But this one, in which the Redskins led midway through the fourth quarter or later against two playoff-bound NFC East rivals on the road and then the Saints, tops either of those.

Q: Is the offense really better minus Chris Samuels, Chris Cooley, Clinton Portis and Randy Thomas? And why didn’t Gregg Williams come after Jason Campbell more often, if only to prove a point to Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato?

A: Despite missing all those starters, the offense is certainly playing its best football in more than a year. As for Williams’ approach, the Redskins seemed to an extent to know what was coming, but he also just opted not to blitz much. Williams no longer talks after games as he did with Washington.

Q: Is Devin Thomas finally becoming the receiver the Redskins thought he was when they drafted him 34th overall in 2008?

A: That’s not clear yet, but he had an impressive performance Sunday. The self-described wild child caught all seven balls that Campbell threw his way for 100 yards. And his two touchdowns were highlight-reel-worthy for the deftness with which he managed to find the end zone. Pretty fancy footwork.

Q: Will the Saints finish 16-0?

A: Not if they play this way against Dallas in two weeks. They should win the other games against battered Atlanta and lightweights Tampa Bay and Carolina no matter what.

Q: Can the Redskins keep coming back for more after three losses in a row like this?

A: If they can play this well against Dallas, Philadelphia and New Orleans, they certainly can at Oakland. But the Raiders have upset AFC North leader Cincinnati and defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh in a three-game span.

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