The setback featured the continuation of three disturbing trends for the Redskins.
First, it was their seventh straight loss at home; their last victory at FedEx Field coming in Week 2 of last season.
Second, Washington’s defense continued to give up yardage in big chunks, as the Bengals compiled six plays of 25 yards or longer. In three games combined, the Redskins have allowed opponents 13 plays of 25 or more yards, and Washington has allowed 10 passing touchdowns.
Finally, the injury bug that plagued the defense in the season’s first two weeks spread to the offense. Left tackle Trent Williams suffered a right knee injury two plays into the game, returned for a brief stretch in the second quarter, but returned to the sideline to stay after three third-quarter snaps. Williams said after the game he didn’t believe the injury was serious, but he will have an MRI exam on Monday to learn the full extent.
Those problems overshadowed another impressive performance by Griffin, who completed 21 of 34 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown and also rushed 12 times for a team-high 85 yards and another score.
“Like I’ve told you from Day 1, in order to win, especially with a young quarterback, you have to have a great defense and a great running game,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “That’s where it starts. There’s not a team in National Football League history that’s won without a great running game. . . . So we’re going to have to buckle up a bit, and we’ll come back.”
Washington fell behind 24-7 late in the second quarter before scoring 17 straight points to tie the score. The Redskins then gave up two quick touchdowns in the fourth quarter before a two-yard touchdown run by Griffin with 3 minutes 38 seconds left to play pulled them within seven.
On the ensuing onside kick, Washington touched the ball just before it traveled the required 10 yards, giving the ball to Cincinnati. But the defense held, and the Redskins got the ball back on their 2-yard line with just 1:47 left and no timeouts. Still they were able to drive to the Bengals 19 before a sack and penalties drove them backward 40 yards, ending their hopes.
“It’s always frustrating,” said Griffin, who was sacked six times for 53 yards and also fumbled while getting hit during a pitch. “But one thing we’re not going to ever do is stop fighting. I think it showed a lot of heart of the team, but the bottom line is we’ve got to come away with those victories.”
The Redskins gained 381 yards and for the third consecutive week scored at least 28 points, but their defense broke down repeatedly. The Bengals generated 478 yards of offense with Andy Dalton leading the way with 328 yards and three touchdowns passing, along with an interception.