Shanahan’s loss of control came after the Redskins tried to engineer a last second scoring drive without benefit of a timeout (a rare bad challenge by Mike Shanahan was costly). With seven seconds left in the game, the Redskins were at the Cincinnati 34-yard line. Griffin spiked the ball to give the team time to set up for a final shot at the end zone. On the next play, Fred Davis was called for a false start.
The Bengals thought they got a 10-second run-off of the clock in that scenario, and the team — the defense and everyone else — began milling about the field. But in that scenario, there isn’t a run-off. Apparently one or more officials told the Bengals the game was over. Apparently one or more officials told the Redskins the game was over. At least one other official knew it wasn’t.
Kyle Shanahan knew it too, and he pointed out — vociferously, apparently — that it wasn’t. He drew a 20-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, leaving Robert Griffin III to try to engineer a 59-yard touchdown drive in six seconds. He couldn’t do it, and that was the game.
If you watched the CBS telecast, you never found out who drew the flag. The officials didn’t give a name, and the announcers didn’t see it. The network’s Command Central flipped viewers to the Saints-Chiefs game so fast, we got whiplash. (In fact, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t get summoned to New York as many times as CBS viewers do. I enjoy James Brown as much as the next person, but enough!)
The Redskins have bigger problems than this. They need to shore up a sieve-like defense that has given up 101 points and 1,050 passing yards in three games. They need to find weapons other than Griffin — it’s unreasonable to expect him to maneuver that crew into 35 points a game — and they need to provide some offensive consistency. Alfred Morris runs well, then he disappears; he had just two touches in the fourth quarter. Davis saw just two passes in the first half, but he ended up as the team’s leading receiver. And then there are the injuries.
But what message does it send Redskins players when their coaches won’t stand in front of the cameras and answer questions after a gaffe like that? To his credit, Kyle Shanahan took responsibility for his mistake. But as Morgan demonstrated, true accountability is facing the criticism in person when it’s loudest, not a day later behind the shield of a written statement.
For Tracee Hamilton’s previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.