- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 7, 2014

Colt McCoy stood at his locker Sunday afternoon and gingerly inserted his arms through a gray T-shirt — first his left, then his right — before pulling it down across his torso. The quarterback was injured late in the Washington Redskins‘ 24-0 loss to St. Louis, wincing and grabbing at his right shoulder soon after he took his fifth sack of the day.

The clubbing he took from defensive end Robert Quinn pained him, but it didn’t help that he had to carry the full weight of a lifeless carcass on those shoulders for the better part of 60 minutes.

McCoy completed 20 of 32 passes for 199 yards and threw two interceptions in the Redskins‘ first home shutout in nearly five years. They gained just 27 rushing yards, 11 of which came off the quarterback’s two second-quarter scrambles, and skirted the red zone just once, reaching the Rams’ 20-yard line before Quinn’s sack knocked them back eight yards.

McCoy’s day ended with two minutes remaining, satisfying a fickle, half-full stadium that sporadically taunted the quarterback with chants of Robert Griffin III’s nickname. Griffin, benched before the game at Indianapolis on Nov. 30 because of ineffective play, replaced a QB who had been ineffective.

“We’re all searching for answers in this building,” an exasperated Jay Gruden, the Redskins‘ coach, said afterward. “We’re trying to find out who can lead us to victories and who can get this offense on a roll. That, obviously, is still to be determined.”

The Redskins‘ problems are not quarterback-driven, but as they’ve sputtered to five consecutive losses and been defeated in 18 of their last 21 games, having one who can competently navigate the offense would nullify many of them.

SEE ALSO: Redskins fill another day with mishaps and commotion

Starting quarterbacks have registered a passer rating below 90.0, the standard for average, in six of 13 games this season. They have been unable to prolong drives, converting on three of 12 third-down attempts on Sunday and 32.1 percent, the third-worst mark in the league, this season.

And, considering the uncertain nature of McCoy’s injury — Gruden said he had a sprained neck, but one person said the quarterback was exhibiting symptoms consistent with a pinched nerve — it’s entirely likely the Redskins could give the quarterback carousel one more spin before they wrap up the season with three games against divisional opponents.

“The season’s been one of them rough seasons, man,” said wide receiver Santana Moss, who has been in last place with the Redskins six times in the past nine years and appears headed for a seventh. “You’ve just got to hang in there and keep fighting. You’ve got three games left. We didn’t anticipate this outcome to be like it is today.”

McCoy had not shirked his responsibility in his three previous appearances this season, leading the Redskins to a pair of victories before throwing for nearly 400 yards in a 22-point loss to Indianapolis a week ago.

But he had been shaky in the first half of his previous two starts, and despite vowing during the week to address that in the game against the Rams on Sunday, he didn’t.

Washington marched 42 yards over nine plays on its first drive before McCoy threw an interception, then didn’t get the ball out of its own territory until midway through the fourth quarter.

The quarterback was also sacked six times, with none more crushing than the one by Quinn. The defensive end rushed by left tackle Trent Williams, who appeared to miss the snap, and bludgeoned McCoy from behind, laying him out with a clothesline to the back of his neck with 6:54 to play.

He took the field for five more plays, his second interception among them, before making way for Griffin before the two-minute warning. Griffin completed three of his four passes, totaling 33 yards, and was sacked once before the drive stalled with an incompletion on fourth-and-3 from the opposing 33-yard line.

“I didn’t know if I was going to get an opportunity,” Griffin said. “It’s not my focus. My focus was to help this team win all week — helping the defense and then being ready to play if the call came.”

When McCoy was installed as the starting quarterback on Nov. 26, Gruden wanted to hand him every opportunity to finish out the final five games in that role. Gruden’s hope, ideally, was to let Griffin learn and develop, which would allow him to state his case for the starting job in training camp next summer.

Griffin, though, may have that chance sooner rather than later. McCoy did not host the postgame quarterback press conference, as Washington’s medical staff ushered him to a nearby hospital to undergo additional medical examinations, and Gruden declined to commit to either player on Sunday.

That yoke will fall on one of them, his shoulders plenty weary.

“As a coach, you don’t want to be wishy-washy,” Gruden said. “When a guy has a bad game, you don’t just want to take him out and throw him under. You like to see guys finish what they started and see if they can turn it around. Obviously, that didn’t happen … and now, we’re back to the drawing board.”

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