- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA

It’s come to this for the Washington Redskins: Their opponent can go 1-for-4 in the red zone, 5-for-15 on third down and allow two 80-play scoring drives… and still win.

Down eight points entering the fourth quarter, the Philadelphia Eagles scored the final 11 points Sunday to seal a 27-24 win, furthering the Redskins’ misery.

As frustrating as last week’s loss to Dallas was because of the inability to score a touchdown, this loss should be similarly maddening because it’s yet another opportunity wasted.

Q: The Redskins have lost at the NFC East’s top two teams by a combined four points the last two weeks. Are they better than their 3-8 record?

A: Perhaps, but only because they’re playing well enough to enter the fourth quarter with a lead… only to see the opponent drive down the field for a winning score.

But two examples illustrate why the Redskins are in the division’s caboose. Justin Tryon’s interception gave the offense possession at the Philadelphia 23, but there appeared to be no urgency to extend the lead to 12 points. The Redskins kicked a field goal for an eight-point lead.

On the ensuing drive, LaRon Landry went for the highlight reel hit on Jason Avant 24 yards down field. He bounced off Avant, whose 46-yard gain helped set up the tying touchdown and two-point conversion. Fundamental errors cost the Redskins.

Q: Albert Haynesworth missed a second straight game with an ankle injury. How much are the Redskins missing the big guy?

A: Immensely. Dallas and Philadelphia have combined for 276 yards rushing without Haynesworth anchoring the middle. Early Sunday, Leonard Weaver rumbled through a hole as wide as Broad Street.

The last two weeks are why Dan Snyder signed Haynesworth for $41 million guaranteed. Second half of the season. Division road games. Physical opponents. And Haynesworth hasn’t played.

Q: Jason Campbell threw two interceptions but also two touchdowns. How was his performance?

A: He would like to have the two picks back; that was old school Campbell in that he locked onto a receiver and tried to throw into a tight spot. Philadelphia produced six points off the takeaways.

The Redskins were 8-for-17 on third down and 15-for-32 the last two games, and a lot of that is thanks to Campbell’s cool decision-making. Under constant pressure, he’s managing to create something when nothing is there.

Q: Campbell again took a lot of hits and got the wind knocked out of him on the Redskins’ final offensive play. Will he last five more games?

A: If this keeps up, Todd Collins better get warm in the bullpen. Campbell took a vicious shot from Dallas linebacker Bradie James last week and this Sunday got catapulted into the turf by the Eagles’ Juqua Parker.

One scene was particularly alarming. Campbell was hammered on a play, and his linemen were nowhere to be found. Referee Gene Steratore offered a hand to help him up.

Q: Philadelphia posted four plays of at least 20 yards. Was there a common theme for the Redskins’ defense?

A: Absolutely. DeSean Jackson’s 35-yard touchdown was the result of a miscommunication in the secondary, Avant gained 46 yards because of a missed tackle, Jeremy Maclin collected a 35-yard pass because cornerback Carlos Rogers didn’t turn around to face the football.

The general theme when the Redskins allow big plays is that they are making unforced errors.

Q: The offense scored three touchdowns (tied for most this year). Are they inching toward the 30-point mark for the first time in Jim Zorn’s tenure?

A: There is some reason for optimism for the Redskins’ offense because more than just a few guys are making plays. Santana Moss found the end zone for the first time since Week 4, and the second-year players (Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis) had catches of 35, 29 and 27 yards, respectively.

The problems are the running game (3.3 yards a carry) and the pass protection. When Campbell has time to throw, more players than Moss find ways to get open.

Q: When the second half of the year started, the Redskins seemed headed for a 3-13 finish. After the last two weeks, is that still the case?

A: The Redskins will beat Oakland and split their final two division home games. They’re doing enough things well to beat a bad team on the road (the Raiders) and an OK team at home (the Giants or Cowboys).

The good news - if there is any - for Zorn is that it appears his players haven’t packed it in.

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