Best and worst moments from the Redskins’ 34-27 loss to the New England Patriots at FedEx Field.
Worst Replay: Perhaps the most important play of the game came in the final minute. Santana Moss appeared to catch a touchdown pass to draw Washington within one, but officials flagged Moss for offensive pass interference. You have to show that replay. Multiple times. CBS never did. I have friends who watched the live feed on their DVRs, and they offered differing opinions on the call. I needed to see it. (Video here.)
Worst Drops: They were almost all by the Patriots near the end zone, and they helped keep this thing from turning into a blowout. But Moss threw his hat into the category with his game-ending muff (above), leading to the game-ending interception.
Worst Stat: This is the sixth time in nine seasons that the Redskins have been either 4-9 or 5-8 at this point in the season. That’s the dregs right there.
Best Interception: Josh Wilson’s end zone interception of Tom Brady in the fourth quarter was not only a tremendous play; it also gave Rex Grossman the ball with a chance to drive and tie the score. (See end of this item for the image.)
Worst Pre-Game Injury: For the second time in recent memory, the Redskins lost a key player during pre-game warmups. This time, it was starting right tackle Jammal Brown, leading to a starting offensive line that went like this: Locklear, Hurt, Montgomery, Chester, Polumbus. What exactly goes on during pre-game warmups that causes players to get injured?
Worst Consistency: And thus, six men who started week 1 for the Redskins offense missed Sunday’s game entirely: Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Tim Hightower, Trent Williams, Brown, and Kory Lichtensteiger.
Worst Officiating: I generally reserve this for home-town outrage, but this week there’s a tie! It was all awful! The roughing-the-passer call against Andre Carter that wiped out a Grossman interception was absurd. So, too, was the call on London Fletcher later in the first half, when Tom Brady never really slid, and Fletcher was accused of hitting Brady in the head when he actually hit him in the arm. (See above, via @chrismottram.) It’s kind of unclear if defenders are allowed to hit quarterbacks at all nowadays.
Best Trick Play: Grossman to Helu to Banks to Moss, obviously. The 49-yard touchdown pass from the little left-handed Brandon Banks gave Washington the lead and stopped all the blowout jokes. It also meant that at halftime, Brady, Grossman and Banks were all tied for the game lead with one (1) touchdown pass, though Brady had the third-best passer rating of the three. Which was weird.
Worst Tackling: Everything about Rob Gronkowski’s 49-yard catch-and-run was dispiriting: The tight end dragging DeJon Gomes, the tight end shrugging off Reed Doughty, DeAngelo Hall standing around and watching, and Mike Shanahan then challenging what seemed like a clearly correct call. That was the low.
Best Defying Expectations: Minus their two best offensive players, the Redskins’ offense put up its most points of the season and racked up 463 yards, which is not what you would have expected.
Best Unleashing: With dread circling the stadium after Grossman’s early fumble in the end zone, the quarterback reared back and chucked the ball 51 yards, directly into the bosom of Donte Stallworth. It led to a field goal, and it showed that the Redskins could move the ball against the depleted and awful Patriots secondary.
Worst Rubbing It In: Andre Carter was already having a swell season, which had to hurt after he had washed out of the Jim Haslett 3-4 system. So of course he’d come back to FedEx Field, sack Grossman in the end zone, and force a fumble that New England’s Vince Wilfork recovered for a touchdown.
Best Tweet: This came from Wilfork’s wife, after his touchdown: “That’s what the [bleep] I am talking about [bleep] yeah & he brought me the ball.” But she didn’t write [bleep].
Worst Composure: DeAngelo Hall picking up a penalty flag and chucking it down the field earned the Patriots 15 yards. He’s a defensive team captain. “That’s just stupid,” Greg Gumbel said on the CBS broadcast.
Worst Streaks: Now and forever, it’s the turnovers. The Redskins have turned the ball over at least once in 27 straight games, the longest streak in the NFL. Also, Grossman himself has turned the ball over at least once in 15 straight games. This year, he has 20 turnovers in the 10 games he’s started.
Worst Kickoff: Why do the Redskins keep kicking the ball out-of-bounds? Do the occasional times when this works out and the other team starts at the 14 really work out for the occasional time when the ball goes out-of-bounds and the other team starts at the 40? Wouldn’t it be more fun just to kick the ball through the end zone every single time?
Worst Debut As a Starter: I didn’t notice Logan Paulsen much one way or the other, but he was extremely noticeable when he was called for a false start on 3rd-and-goal from the New England 1. That led to a failed 3rd down and a field goal. Good work, Fred Davis.
Worst End Zone Leap: Jabar Gaffney’s touchdown catch in the first half signaled that this would actually be a competitive football game. He celebrated by leaping into the end zone stands, and landing directly in the lap of a man in a Red Sox jacket and Patriots hat. (Video here.) Granted, those Red Sox types were everywhere on Sunday, but you have to aim better than that. (Although, actually, David Anderson later appeared to jump into the exact same fan’s lap, so maybe this was some dastardly plot.)
Best End Zone Leap: Sadly, when Gronkowski scored his second touchdown, he leaped gently into the arms of a different Pats fan behind the goal post.
Best Running Back: Around about week 2, every Redskins fan decided Roy Helu was the best back on this team’s roster. For once, they were all right. Helu went over 100 yards on Sunday for the third straight game, making him the first Redskins rookie runner ever to do so. “Roy Helu is the truth,” Brian Mitchell said after the game.
Second-Best Running Back: Evan Royster everyone! The other rookie runner went for 44 yards on 6 carries, for a better average than either Tim Hightower or Ryan Torain managed this season.
Worst Standings: The Redskins are now in sole possession of last place in the NFC East. They looked better, they didn’t give up, there are a few promising young pieces, and their draft standing improved, but last place is last place is last place.