Best and worst moments from Washington’s 21- 13 loss to the Carolina Panthers at FedEx Field.
Worst Use of Clock: Washington’s penultimate drive included not one but two touchdowns called back due to penalty. First Robert Griffin III ran in a short score and celebrated, although it was nullified by a Will Montgomery hold. Then Griffin found Leonard Hankerson for a short touchdown pass, but it was nullified thanks to an illegal formation call. The Redskins finally scored on an Evan Royster run, but more than 30 seconds, the two-minute warning and a timeout were all gone by then.
Worst Brandon Banks Sequence: The Redskins would have needed a miracle to rally in the final minute on Sunday. Banks assured that wouldn’t happen. First he fielded a punt and managed to burn about six seconds while gaining a yard. Then he took a short pass, didn’t get out of bounds, didn’t run up the field, didn’t lateral the ball, lost nine yards, and got tackled in-bounds, spending 17 seconds and ending the game.
Worst Stat: The Panthers had two touchdown drives of more than 90 yards. They had never before done that, in the history of their franchise.
Worst Month: November has been a horror show for the Redskins in recent years, and this particular November didn’t start much better. Washington is now 2-6 in Novembers under Mike Shanahan, and 5-15 in Novembers since 2007.
Worst Home-Field Advantage: Washington ended its miserable home-losing streak against the Vikings last month, but there was no carryover on Sunday, despite the much-ballyhooed “homecoming” festivities. The Redskins are now 5-15 at home under Shanahan.
Worst Pit-in-Stomach Moment: I’m all for Griffin avoiding needless shots, and I’ll also acknowledge that game situations sometimes make contact unavoidable. Still, the sight of the franchise quarterback helicoptering through the air during a late-game scramble was fairly terrifying. He got right back to his feet, but several hearts must have skipped several beats throughout greater Washington. Watch it here.
Worst Omen: A week after wide receiver drops were one of the primary storylines during Washington’s loss in Pittsburgh, the Redskins opened up on offense by throwing to new starter Aldrick Robinson. The ball went through his hands.
Best Catch: How about Josh Morgan’s catch in the second quarter, reaching from behind for a poorly thrown ball, taking a hard hit and still getting a first down. Griffin has been repeatedly let down by his receivers this season; Morgan has been mostly excellent when the ball comes in his direction.
Worst Pass Protection: Whatever Evan Royster might bring to the Redskins as a runner and pass catcher, he’s not helping his cause when he doesn’t save Griffin from being destroyed. Royster’s apparent failure on a second-quarter block led to Griffin getting slammed. Not good. Royster also seemed to fail on a block during an unsuccessful 4th-and-goal run by Griffin.
Worst Discipline: Washington has been one of the most penalized teams in the NFL all season; the Redskins entered the week with an NFL-high 62 penalties and an NFL-high 552 penalty yards. Things didn’t get better on Sunday; Washington was penalized an astounding 13 times for 97 yards.
Worst Timing: Logan Paulsen has three false start penalties in the last two weeks.
Worst Use of Field Position: A miserable 14-yard punt by Brad Mortman gave the Skins the ball at their own 40 late in the third quarter. And after several positive plays, the drive stalled after a penalty, a sack and an incompletion. The Panthers scored on their next possession to go up by 15.
Best Fourth-Down Offense: The Redskins’ entered the game 8-of-9 on fourth-down conversions, with more successful conversions than any other NFL teams. They made two tries on a second-quarter drive, running their success rate to 10-of-11. But then they got stuffed on fourth-and-goal, in perhaps the most memorable play of the game. The Skins are now 11-for-14 on the season.
Worst Third-Down Offense: How can a team be so good on fourth down and so bad on third down? I don’t know, but these Redskins have it mastered.They entered the week ranked 29th in the NFL, making 29 percent of their third-down attempts. Sunday, they converted just 3 out of 15 tries.
Worst Pass Rush: Cam Newton was able to luxuriate in the pocket for much of the afternoon, just as Ben Roethlisberger was before him. The Redskins entered the game with 14 sacks in eight games, tied for 20th in the NFL. Now they have 14 sacks in nine games.
Worst Job Trying to Sell a Holding Call Instead of Tackling: DeAngelo Hall. Watch this play. Maybe Hall was being held, but he sure seemed more interested in getting the call than finding DeAngelo Williams on his touchdown run.
Worst Whistle: A whistle blew during DeAngelo Williams’s 30-yard first-quarter touchdown run. Williams clearly did not step out of bounds, but linebacker Perry Riley seemed to ease up after that whistley sound, allowing Williams to cruise into the end zone. “Even though he didn’t step out of bounds the official should’ve admitted he blew the whistle and ball should have been dead there,” Fox’s Mike Pereira wrote.
Worst Punt Return: Early in the second half, Banks decided to let a punt land outside the 35, then fielded it, then ran backwards, then got tackled at the 23. I don’t think that’s in the punt-returning manual.
Worst Banks Red Zone Usage: As always, the Shanahans know more about running an NFL offense than I ever will. But twice on crucial third down calls near the end zone, they decided to put the ball into Banks’s hands. The first time, he gained two yards on a 3rd-and-4. The next time, he gained three yards on a 3rd-and-6. Griffin and Alfred Morris both were averaging well over five yards a carry to that point.
Worst Run Defense on 1st-and-22: Midway through the third quarter, the Panthers were pushed back by a personal foul against Jordan Gross. With the crowd into the game and making noise, Jonathan Stewart ran for 21 yards. The crowd got a bit quieter.
Best Run Defense on 3rd-and-1: And yet later in that same drive, Rob Jackson and friends helped stuff Mike Tolbert for no gain on a 3rd-and-1.
Worst Endless Drive: Washington dominated the first-half time-of-possession thanks to a monster 17-play drive that lasted more than 10 minutes and covered nearly 80 yards. But when RGIII failed to get into the end zone on a fourth-down run, the Skins came away with zero points.
Worst Response: With a chance to back up the offense by pinning Carolina deep after that failed drive, the Redskins defense instead watched a bloodied Newton lead the Panthers 98 yards over 12 plays. The drive included conversions of 3rd-and-2, 3rd-and-6 and 3rd-and-10.
Worst Penalty: The Panthers’ defense forced a three-and-out on Washington’s first possession, and the Redskins were set to punt from their own end zone. Except Greg Hardy decided to slam RGIII in the head, giving Washington 15 yards and a first down. The Redskins went on to kick a field goal.
Best Sod: The FedEx Field sod looked green and lush and non-burned-out, which was a nice change.
Best Forbath: Goodness the Redskins seem to have found a kicker. Kai Forbath has yet to miss a field goal in his NFL career, and now has a field goal of at least 45 yards in each of his first four NFL games.
Worst Quote: “Everybody knows it’s a must-win game when you’re 3-5,” Mike Shanahan said last week. “If you have any chance at the playoffs, everybody understands at the midway point that you’ve got to start playing your best football or you’re eliminated awful quick.” I don’t believe in using “must-win” until something tangible actually happens if you lose. This game wasn’t really a must-win; if the Redskins win out, improbable as that seems, they would make the playoffs. But when your coach says it’s a must-win, and then you lose in dispiriting fashion….I mean, that doesn’t seem good.