- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. | For Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, there isn’t a way to measure levels of frustration.

“You’re either frustrated or you’re not,” he said. “We are.”

Washington’s defense couldn’t make a key play in the second half of a 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday as the Redskins squandered a 15-point lead.

Meanwhile, special teams mistakes put the defense in a pair of second-half jams. Both led to touchdowns.

With a little more than 10 minutes left, a punt that hit off Byron Westbrook’s leg as he was being blocked gave Carolina possession at the Washington 12. Two plays later, Jonathan Stewart ran 8 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

And moments after going ahead 17-2 early in the third quarter, the Redskins allowed a 55-yard kickoff return by rookie Kenneth Moore, setting up Carolina at the Washington 40. Less than 90 seconds later, Carolina had its first touchdown - and momentum.

“I think we really pride ourselves on making teams kick field goals or not get into a rhythm,” Fletcher said. “We allowed two scores when they got in the red zone, and that’s not us. You look at the second half, and it was very disappointing.”

Washington was sharp in containing two of the Panthers’ top offensive players, limiting DeAngelo Williams to 40 rushing yards on 18 carries and Steve Smith to 65 yards on five receptions.

“That’s a solid football team defensively, and I think you can see why,” Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme said. “They’re big and fast.”

The Redskins stopped four straight running plays after Carolina had a first-and-goal at the Washington 2 in the second quarter. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall returned an interception 44 yards to the Carolina 1 in the third quarter, setting up a Clinton Portis touchdown that made it 17-2.

“Frustration is part of the game,” said Hall, who has all three of Washington’s interceptions this season. “We didn’t make the plays we needed to make. We had them right where we wanted them.”

Defensive end Andre Carter, who had 2 1/2 sacks, said it was a familiar story - not playing two complete halves.

“We play a good first half and don’t do the little things in the second half or vice versa,” he said. “It was a disappointing loss. Carolina came back and did what they needed to do.

“You can’t really question that one particular play on special teams. As a defense you have to step up, rise and stop them from scoring.”

The Redskins’ frustration was cemented when they allowed Carolina to melt the final 5:16 off the clock with eight straight running plays.

The clincher came on a third-and-8 at the Carolina 25. Delhomme, who rarely runs, faked a handoff and ran wide for 9 yards on a bootleg, dragging Hall the last 2 yards.

“We were in a man-to-man coverage, and I was on the tight end,” Hall said. “I saw him coming toward me and got there. A yard too short.”

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