- The Washington Times - Monday, October 19, 2015

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — By the time the clock ticked down to zero in the Washington Redskins’ 34-20 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, MetLife Stadium was nearly empty.

Jets fans had no reason to stay until the end, the home team’s victory well secured before the fourth quarter even started.

The Redskins were outscored 17-0 in the third quarter — a 13-10 halftime lead turning into a 27-13 deficit.

Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions, the first of which led to a Jets touchdown on the very next play, setting in motion a tumultuous 15-minute span.

Cousins’ interception — a pass that should have been thrown away but was instead forced into the hands of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis — was the defining moment of the loss.

That said, there were many things troubling the Redskins (2-4) on Sunday.

Here are three takeaways from the Redskins’ loss.

** The running game is supposed to be the strength of the Redskins’ offense. It’s the bread-and-butter of their game plan, designed to take pressure off Cousins. The Redskins were missing left tackle Trent Williams, center Kory Lichtensteiger and running back Matt Jones, but coach Jay Gruden did not use that as an excuse. The Redskins struggled for the fourth consecutive week, gaining 34 yards on 17 carries.

When the Redskins are running well, Cousins can go into game-manager mode, like he did against St. Louis in Week 2. That’s when he’s most effective, not when he has to throw the ball 40-plus times. Simple formula, right? Not when the Redskins can’t run the ball. Yes, they’ve played some of the toughest defensive fronts, but the rushing game looked ready to go toe-to-toe with the best run defenses after totaling 343 yards in the first two games. Healthy or not, this has now evolved into a season-long issue, rather than a one-week matchup problem.

** Sometimes the most obvious problems call for the most difficult solutions. For whatever reason, the Redskins have struggled mightily in the third quarter this season. After Sunday’s third-quarter debacle, the Redskins have been outscored 46-3 in the quarter-that-must-not-be-named. Hint: It falls somewhere between the end of the second and the start of the fourth.

This week, the turnovers were the issue. Cousins threw two interceptions, which killed two of the team’s three drives in the quarter. The Redskins have had a host of problems after halftime this season and the team has no answer.

“I don’t know, man,” free safety Dashon Goldson said. “There’s nothing extraordinary going on in here at halftime. Guys are in here, we sit down, listen to the corrections we’ve got and go back out. We just got to come out with a mentality of finishing faster. We started out, played some good ball, got some turnovers, put points on the board. Second half we came out, gave them three points. We can’t allow that.”

** If there was anything positive to take from the loss, it was the play of cornerback Bashaud Breeland. He had an interception plus two fumble recoveries in the first half and the Redskins turned his takeaways into 13 points. Last week, he had an interception and four pass deflections against the Atlanta Falcons. The Redskins’ secondary has been incredibly shorthanded all season, especially the last two weeks, missing both DeAngelo Hall and Chris Culliver. He’s had some missteps, like on Brandon Marshall’s 35-yard touchdown on Sunday, but overall, Breeland has elevated his game and has helped bridge the gap while the secondary recovers.

• Anthony Gulizia can be reached at agulizia@washingtontimes.com.

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