Redskins coach Mike Shanahan didn’t plan to take any disciplinary action for wide receiver Josh Morgan, whose unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 1:13 left on the clock took the Redskins out of reasonable field goal range in their 31-28 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
With the Redskins driving and nearing scoring range and facing third-and-8 from the St. Louis 36-yard line, Morgan made a catch and gained seven yards. He was tackled by safety Quintin Mikell, but as Morgan bounced up, Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan hit him with a jab to the head. Morgan threw the ball at Finnegan and yelled at him in frustration, and immediately was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The ball was then backed up to the 44-yard line, and Washington faced fourth-and-16 rather than fourth and less than a yard. The Redskins attempted a 62-yard field goal, but Billy Cundiff missed, and lost the game 31-28.
Shanahan said that he didn’t sit Morgan down after the game to discuss his error in judgment. The coach did address the issue to the entire team, however.
“I talked to our team and Josh was in the room. I didn’t talk to Josh specifically. I think the action spoke volumes,” Shanahan said. “We had talked about keeping your poise before the game. Obviously, a number of reasons why. And then the coaches obviously go over the film.
“You always are going to play the best players – the guys that you think give you the best chance to win,” Shanahan continued. “What you’re trying to do is make sure that it doesn’t reoccur again for your whole football team. That’s the difference between winning and losing, guys keeping their composure. A lot of these veterans set these guys up. They’ll have a little push or a little hit at the end of a play, and all of a sudden, a guy loses his composure, and these vets are smart enough to walk away. That happens in the National Football League, and you’ve got to be smart enough to keep your composure.”
Shanahan said that Morgan didn’t address the team, either. But that didn’t concern the coach.
“No, there’s no need to,” Shanahan said. “We take a look at the film, and there’s probably eight other scenarios that I use besides that one about people keeping their poise and composure. That’s what you have to learn.”
Shanahan later added, “When you get hit in the National Football League, your first reaction as a football player is to retaliate. But one thing you have to learn in the National Football League is they catch the second guy, not the first guy. Every once and a while the first guy will get caught. More times than not the second guy will get caught. When you look at the film, you see a guy pushing you in the face, all of a sudden a guy loses his composure, and the other guy is walking away, and you throw the football at him, and he’s laughing, you understand what he’s doing. That’s part of a young guy growing up.”
Morgan on Sunday discussed the play in a post-game interview and admitted that he had hurt his team by losing his composure.
“I should’ve just kept my calm,” said Morgan, who this past spring was signed as a free agent, agreeing to a two-year, $6 million deal.