- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | For one stretch of the Washington Redskins’ miserable season, they suffered from an inability to do anything in the first half. During another losing streak, the culprit was allowing big plays. And early in the year, the Redskins were allergic to the end zone.

Another characteristic can be added to this season’s obituary: The Redskins can’t hold a fourth-quarter lead.

Up eight points with just under 12 minutes remaining Sunday and in position to win at Lincoln Financial Field for the third consecutive time, the Redskins allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to dominate down the stretch. Philadelphia locked up a 27-24 victory on David Akers’ 32-yard field goal with 1:48 remaining.

The Redskins (3-8), meanwhile, lost a franchise record-tying ninth straight road game.

“They’re hard [losses] because I think we prepare well and our players are doing what we ask them to do, and to come out on the short end of it, it’s a very difficult emotion to have to come speak and make sense of it,” coach Jim Zorn said. “It’s hard to have any words, really.”

After squandering a fourth-quarter lead for the second week in a row, the players were similarly perplexed.

“We’ve played 90 percent of these games [well], but it’s the remaining 10 percent that we’re failing ourselves,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said.

Added running back Rock Cartwright: “Anytime you lose it’s the same feeling, especially when you go out and play hard like we did and play decent football like we did.”

The decent things included the longest receptions of their careers by Devin Thomas (35 yards) and Fred Davis (29 yards), Justin Tryon’s first career interception, 12 tackles by London Fletcher and several solid throws by Jason Campbell (22-for-37 for 231 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions).

But those not-so-decent things again cost the Redskins. They committed seven penalties, Campbell’s two interceptions turned into two Philadelphia field goals, LaRon Landry missed a tackle on Jason Avant’s 46-yard catch and the defense - forced to play without defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth for the second consecutive week - allowed 123 rushing yards.

The Redskins reached 20 points and scored three offensive touchdowns for only the second time this season, and they led 24-16 with 11:42 remaining after Tryon’s interception set up a short Shaun Suisham field goal.

Then Philadelphia went to work.

The Eagles drove 90 yards on 10 plays to tie the score with 7:24 remaining on Eldra Buckley’s 1-yard touchdown and LeSean McCoy’s two-point conversion.

The Redskins ran four plays and punted, setting up the Eagles’ winning drive.

Philadelphia drove 66 yards on nine plays before Akers kicked his fourth field goal of the day. The Eagles used six runs and three passes to move downfield while also burning the clock. And rookie Jeremy Maclin made the big play, a 35-yard reception against Carlos Rogers.

If that sounds familiar, it should: Last week, Dallas drove 60 yards on nine plays to win 7-6.

“I don’t think anybody used the comment ‘Here we go again,’ and I would never use it,” Zorn said. “We’re not looking at the clock, hoping we can eke it out.”

That certainly appeared to be the case after Tryon’s interception early in the fourth quarter. Instead of getting aggressive and trying to extend the lead to 12 points, the Redskins ran three plays once they reached the Philadelphia 11: consecutive 2-yard rushes by Marcus Mason and a Campbell incomplete pass.

“Obviously, we would have liked a touchdown, but we were in the driver’s seat,” Orakpo said. “We can’t blame the offense for not scoring a touchdown.”

For once, the Redskins were in control early on.

Philadelphia coach Andy Reid called an onside kick to start the game. The Redskins’ Quinton Ganther recovered and returned it 25 yards, and an Eagles penalty put Washington on the Philadelphia 19. Four plays later, Campbell ran around the right side for a 1-yard touchdown.

“They play a five-man line, and we thought we could sneak one in there,” Reid said of the onside attempt.

Philadelphia scored the next 10 points before Santana Moss’ first touchdown catch since Week 4 put the Redskins back in the lead. But with 42 seconds left before halftime and his team leading 14-13, Zorn opted to try for more. Instead, Campbell was intercepted by Asante Samuel, and the Eagles kicked a go-ahead field goal.

“There was enough time on the clock [to score] than to just run it out,” Zorn said. “We were moving the ball in the air and on the ground.”

The Redskins took their third lead on their opening drive of the second half when Campbell threw 10 yards to Fred Davis, whose 29-yard catch-and-run set up the score.

But Philadelphia scored the final 11 points, outgaining the Redskins 162-63 in the fourth quarter.

“In our scheme of things and the way we’re going down this road, it’s been a couple of big plays per game that have made the difference,” Zorn said. “It really is a difference between a team that has a winning record and a team that is like us.”

Even one of the newest Redskins players sees a familiar tale unfolding. Ganther, re-signed by the team three weeks ago, witnessed yet another close loss in a year that will end without a playoff berth and, for the eighth time in Dan Snyder’s 11-season tenure, without a winning record.

“Since I’ve been here, every game we’ve had has been there for the taking,” Ganther said. “We just have to finish. This is not a bad football team. When we learn how to finish, we’re going to win games.”

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