- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 10, 2015

ASHBURN — The Washington Redskins have entered halftime leading opponents in three of their first four games, a stark contrast from when they led after the first two quarters in only three games all of last season.

With the exception of the Redskins‘ Week 3 game against the New York Giants, in which they trailed, 12-0, after the first quarter, the problem has not been how the team starts its games — it’s how they re-start them after the break.

The Redskins (2-2) have been outscored by opponents, 26-3, in the third quarter this season, and the team hopes to change that on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons (4-0).

Washington dominated the Philadelphia Eagles in the first half of its 23-20 victory last Sunday. The Redskins out-gained the Eagles, 185-95, and possessed the ball nearly three times as long as the opponent, to take a 13-0 lead.

Then the Redskins got outscored, 13-3, in the third quarter, as Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford connected with receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Brent Celek for touchdowns. Cooper’s was a dagger — a 62-yard bomb against a hobbled Chris Culliver and Redskins strong safety Trenton Robinson wasn’t playing deep enough on the play.

After the Cooper touchdown on the Eagles’ first drive of the third quarter, the Redskins went three-and-out. Rookie cornerback Quinton Dunbar hit Eagles running back Darren Sproles after he signaled for a fair catch, drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty. The Eagles started at their own 44-yard line and Celek scored four plays later.

Though the Redskins were outscored 20-3 in the second half, quarterback Kirk Cousins led a 15-play, 90-yard scoring drive for the victory. Nonetheless, the Redskins‘ inability to adjust after halftime is concerning.

In a 24-10 win against the St. Louis Rams, the Redskins led, 17-0, at the half. The Rams scored 10 points in the third quarter before the Redskins pulled away in the final frame. On the Redskins‘ first drive of the third quarter, the offense went three-and-out. On the second possession, running back Matt Jones fumbled. The Rams recovered and scored two plays later on Sam Bradford’s 40-yard pass to Kenny Britt.

Against the Giants, the Redskins trailed, 15-6, at halftime, and trailed 18-6 after the first drive of the third quarter. On the Redskins‘ first offensive possession, they worked to the New York 34-yard line, only for Cousins to throw an interception. The Giants’ next drive ended with a 30-yard touchdown to receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

“Any time that you’ve been able to start the games the way we have in the first half, you want to try to carry that over into the second half,” offensive coordinator Sean McVay said on Friday. “Credit to some of the defenses that we played. Last week against Philadelphia, we come out with two runs. They stop us in a short-yardage situation.

“They did a nice job there, but we’ve got to figure out a way to create some momentum coming out of the half, whether that be creating some explosive plays or just being more efficient on first and second down so that we can move the chains and come away with points. And, obviously, we’d like to come away with touchdowns. Then, some of those other situations, there’s always a little bit of an individual thing and circumstance that comes up, but that’s certainly a point of emphasis for us is coming out of that half with a little bit better momentum.”


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