The Washington Redskins talked about sending London Fletcher out on a victorious note as he played in his final home game as a member of the team. But they fell short in their quest, losing 24-23 to Dallas on Sunday.
For a few moments, however, it appeared as if the Redskins’ matchup with the rival Cowboys would to take on a storybook ending. Game on the line, Fletcher and the boys on the field, backed up in the shadow of their own goal post and in need of one final stand to secure the victory.
Fletcher was in on a group of players that swarmed Dallas running back DeMarco Murray at the 1-yard line on second and goal for no gain. Then the defense forced Murray into a nine-yard loss on third down. That set up Fletcher and the Redskins’ defense for a fourth-and-goal situation from 10 yards out.
“Man, I thought we had it,” Fletcher recalled. “When you think about it, fourth and 10, what better way would it have been for me personally to end my career on a defensive stand at the goal line. You have to give them credit, give Romo credit.”
The defense couldn’t generate pressure on the quarterback, and Romo had plenty of time to scan the field and wound up completing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Murray to tie the game at 23. Then Dan Bailey’s point-after attempt gave the Cowboys a 24-23 lead. Washington’s offense failed to mount a threat, and the Redskins suffered their seventh consecutive loss of the season and their sixth and final at FedEx Field.
“Very disappointing,” said fellow inside linebacker Perry Riley Jr., the player Fletcher views as his ‘little brother’ on the defense. “That’s what hurts me more than anything. I’m sure a lot of the guys on defense feel the same way. We wanted to get this game for Fletch, had the chance to get the win for Fletch, had a chance to win it on defense for Fletch, didn’t happen.”
Despite the disappointing end, Fletcher received a warm response from the fans as he left the field and headed to the locker room in defeat. It was similar to the reception they gave him as he took the field for his initial round of pregame warmups, his positional warmups and then pre-game introductions.
Fletcher, who recorded six tackles, described Sunday as an emotion-filled day, and a continuation of the sentiments he had experienced since Wednesday when he announced that he expected to retire following the season.
“As much as I tried to make it as much of a normal game, normal week, it wasn’t. I really had to curb my emotions throughout the week and then today with the reception that I got,” Fletcher said with a smile as he addressed the media from the podium in the Redskins’ interview room with his three small children and a family member in attendance.
As the Redskins got the ball back following Dallas’s touchdown with 1:08 left on the clock, Fletcher took a knee on the sideline and watched. He said he expected the offense to march downfield and score on a field goal to win the game. But that didn’t happen.
Washington’s defensive players, like Riley, expressed frustration and disappointment that they failed in their quest to give their team captain a win in his final home game.
But the Redskins have one final shot at giving Fletcher a triumphant farewell when they face the Giants at MetLife Stadium next Sunday.
“We’ve got a game next week,” defensive end Kedric Golston said. “Obviously, this was the home game and you want to send him out in the right fashion for the home crowd. Tremendous amount of respect for London as a player, as a man. People see what he does in the season, but I see him in the offseason, I see him at practice, and I can only hope to be the professional that he is.”
Fletcher said he doesn’t know what to expect as he makes his way through his final week as an NFL player. But the hard part is over, he believes.
“I couldn’t imagine it being much tougher than this week just because this was the last time I get to wear the burgundy and gold in front of the fans here,” Fletcher said. “Next week, I’ll be emotional, but I think this one was more emotional because it was the last time I get to play in front of the home crowd.”
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at email@example.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.
● Pierre Garcon passes Art Monk for the Redskins’ single-season receptions record.
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