- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2013

Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was the last man off the field. Playing in what is almost certainly his final home game at FedEx Field, it was a fitting exit even if the result on the field was another blow to a proud veteran.

Fletcher had helped stop the Dallas Cowboys at the 1 on a second-down play just after the two-minute warning. He and his teammates then helped turn a short handoff to DeMarco Murray into a 9-yard loss.

But that was just before Murray caught a touchdown pass on fourth down to help Dallas take the late lead.

It was a crushing end. But Fletcher joined a prayer circle at midfield, received a hug from a Redskins assistant coach and shook hands with several Cowboys players who offered well wishes.

A warm ovation from the remaining crowd followed Fletcher as he moved toward the exit tunnel. But first he turned and hugged his three daughters waiting in the front row a few feet away. Leaving the field for the final time, a broad smile beamed from Fletcher’s face.

“I couldn’t imagine it being much tougher than this week just because this was the last time I get to wear the burgundy and gold in front of the fans here,” said Fletcher.

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But, he later added that “when you’re going through the game you don’t have time to think about all that. You more or less think about the plays they’re running, how I can make a play.”

Orakpo’s status unclear

Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo had made it through the 2013 season injury-free. That was a critical goal after a torn pectoral muscle ruined his 2012 campaign just two games into it.

But Orakpo couldn’t quite make it to the finish line when he sustained a right groin strain in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.

During a one-on-one pass rush battle with Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Tyron Smith, Orakpo pulled up and grabbed his right leg with 13:40 left to play and Washington ahead 23-14. He did not return to the game.

Orakpo’s status was unclear for the season finale against the New York Giants next Sunday. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan did not provide an update after the game and Orakpo declined to speak with reporters.

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An unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, Orakpo, 27, and Washington’s front office have decisions to make. He finished the Dallas game with just two tackles, but has 10 sacks on the season, the second-best total in his career, and an interception for a touchdown.

Field conditions shoddy again

It hasn’t been the best month for playing conditions at FedEx Field. The Kansas City game on Dec. 8 was a snowy disaster for all involved. The turf, re-sodded after the Nov. 3 game, didn’t look much better Sunday.

A rainy morning left the field slippery. That played a role in a critical breakdown on the game-winning drive for the Cowboys.

Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson slipped on second down as he was covering Dallas wide receiver Terrance Williams.

That led to a 51-yard completion and put the ball at the Washington 21. The Cowboys scored the go-ahead touchdown five plays later.

“You can look at it and tell it’s raining. It’s the end of the season. It’s going to be tough to keep the grass good,” Wilson said. “It was definitely slick, but you have to keep your feet under you.

LB Barnett injures knee

In other injury news, Shanahan told radio station ESPN 980 that reserve linebacker Nick Barnett could have a damaged MCL in his left knee. That diagnosis awaits further tests on Monday. Barnett was hurt on a kickoff in the first quarter. But he has a history of knee problems, including a torn ACL in his right knee in 2008.

Barnett was released by the Buffalo Bills last February after failing a physical following right knee surgery after last season ended. He signed with Washington during training camp.

Forbath’s rebound continues

Redskins kicker Kai Forbath had two field goals blocked against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 3 in a game his team ultimately won.

Since that game, Forbath has made 12 in a row, including three Sunday. Forbath hit a 36-yarder in the first quarter to cut the Dallas lead to 7-3. He added a 22-yard kick in the second quarter to make it 7-6. But the big one came in the fourth quarter from 47 yards out to push the Washington advantage to two scores, 23-14.

• Brian McNally can be reached at bmcnally@washingtontimes.com.

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