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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 09/30/2011

Kyle Shanahan explains lack of fourth-quarter run plays

Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan drew criticism following Monday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys for calling 11 passes and only two runs with his team leading during the tail end of the third quarter and the good chunk of the fourth quarter.

It appeared that the gameplan turned rather lopsided, but Shanahan said that wasn’t the case, and had the Redskins been able to execute better, more balance would have been achieved.

“I was happy with how the game went. In the third quarter, I think it was five runs and six passes and we were balanced then,” Shanahan said on Thursday during his weekly press conference. “In the fourth quarter, the problem was it’s going to get one-sided when you don’t have long drives. We had too many, I don’t know if it was three-and-outs, but it was about four-and outs. ... We had very quick drives. We’re happy with how we’ve run the ball this year. There are only [seven] teams that have run the ball more than us, so I think we’ve been fairly balanced. It’s something that we believe in and, when the game dictates [it], it’s what we’ll do.”

The Redskins against Dallas had the ball, nursing a 16-15 lead with 6 minutes 58 seconds to play when Washington came out throwing rather than try to pound the ball and milk the clock. Rex Grossman & Co. held onto the ball for only five plays before having to punt again, giving Dallas plenty of time for a comeback.

Shanahan explained, however, that in his mind, the conservative approach definitely wasn’t the route to take in that situation.

“To me, when you have a one-point lead with seven minutes left, and you’re on your 15-yard line, that is not a time to run out the clock,” Shanahan said. “You need to do whatever you think you can to move the chains. With what the defense was doing at the time, we did what we thought was best to move the chains.”

The Redskins rank eighth in the league in rushing attempts (83), and Coach Mike Shanahan said he wants to rank among the top 10 in carries all season. The Shanahans obviously want the team’s rushing total to improve from the 12th-place ranking (312 yards) it currently holds.

But Kyle Shanahan remains confident that his team will soon turn the corner in the near future.

“There were a couple of times that we had some chances and I think we lost our footing on it. A couple [of plays] just came down to one block and that’s the NFL,” Shanahan said. “You keep hammering away and it’s very rare that you just come out there and there are gaps wide open. When it’s not and you’re going against a good defense you’re going to stick with it and hope you get that crease and it will change your run average for the whole game. We never really got that long one and it really hurts your average.”

Meanwhile, running back Tim Hightower said he wasn’t frustrated over Shanahan’s decision to go to the pass with greater frequency late in Monday’s game.

“That’s not my job to do playcalls, or ask for runs,” said Hightower, who had a fourth-quarter reception, but didn’t receive a carry during that time. “They come up with a gameplan. They make the gameplan and whatever they draw up, I execute. That’s what the playmaker is supposed to do; to execute. You hope you do enough in practice for them to put that trust in you.”

Hightower, who is averaging 3.5 yards a carry, said if he and his fellow running backs produce at a higher level when run plays are called, then their opportunities will increase.

“You can look at the selfish standpoint and say, ‘I didn’t get the ball.’” Hightower said. “But you can look at it from a detailed standpoint and realize, ‘Hey, if I’m getting more success on first and second down, then I’m getting more carries, and we have more sustained drives.’”

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 09/30/2011

 
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