His thesis has a lot of merit. It’s one thing to go into a frenzied dome as an almost 10-point underdog with a rookie quarterback going against a defense its town has already martyred in the wake of Bountygate. The Redskins had nothing to lose in New Orleans; they were playing with house money.
It’s another to move up the Mississippi River a few hundred miles a week later, come into a dome as the favorite and feeling so good about themselves after that Week 1 stunner against the Saints.
Up 21-6 and 28-23, they couldn’t handle prosperity as well as they would have liked. Jim Haslett’s defense became porous when the pass rush wasn’t there, Danny Smith’s special teams coughed up its second blocked punt in as many weeks and not even the nimble feet and heart of Griffin could cover for Morgan’s abject mental lapse in an ugly scrum that — not to completely take him off the hook — any player could have lost their cool at the end.
“You wait for the second [punch] to be thrown before you throw a flag?” Santana Moss said afterward. “They were doing a lot of dirty stuff after every play.”
Everyone on both sides was at a loss as to how out of control the game had become. Wayne Elliott, the head referee, was the same guy excoriated for leading a crew that called 11 penalties in the first half of a Chargers preseason game against the Vikings.
Still, there are important, move-the-chain drives in the NFL and then there are game-changing drives — right down the throat of a defense, right into the teeth of a deafening crowd.
That was Griffin in the offense after the fumble recovery in the final two minutes.
Out of the chaos they had every opportunity to emerge with a win on the road, beat a team they were supposed to beat and move to 2-0 heading into Sunday’s home opener against the Bengals.
But the Redskins leave St. Louis with major defensive concerns going forward, almost an about-face from all the years the defense bailed the offense out. Because of that, because of Morgan’s meltdown in the final minutes, they couldn’t play through and have already suffered their first growing pain on the way to getting it right.
For more columns by Mike Wise, go to washingtonpost.com/wise.