In the most jarring and sobering three-minute stretch of the season, the Redskins gave up 21 points to close the game as the Jets overcame a three-point deficit.
“It was quick,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “The tide turned quickly. . . . We’re definitely not there yet.”
Having the chance to secure a victory, the Redskins’ defense disappeared.
“You don’t expect that,” inside linebacker London Fletcher said. “We didn’t.”
Washington’s offense, which was ineffective after an efficient opening drive, bumbled its way to the finish behind quarterback Rex Grossman, who reverted to “Bad Rex.” Actually, he was “Very Bad Rex,” misfiring often and committing another two turnovers while producing a 47.5 passer rating.
“It’s frustrating,” Grossman said. “I don’t know what else to say about it.”
Grossman could have offered more, though none of it would have been positive, which is the toughest part for the Redskins.
After their last two games, the Redskins believed they were making strides. The Redskins were optimistic about their situation, albeit as much as a team that had lost six consecutive games could be encouraged about anything.
Washington’s players took pride in a late turnaround they expected to continue until the playoffs started and their season ended, “and that’s why a game like this is so hard, the way we finished,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “You want to just keep making progress, playing hard and showing that you’re getting better. But you have to go out there and do it.”
Before eventually losing in overtime, the Redskins were sharp at times against the NFC East division-leading Dallas Cowboys. They rallied for a road victory against the Seattle Seahawks last week.
Against the Jets, Washington was a mess again. And it wasn’t only the players.
Fans grumbled about the team’s offensive play-calling. It seemed as if Coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who are both involved in directing the offense, forgot about running back Roy Helu at times. Helu had a breakout performance against the Seahawks and kept rolling against the Jets.
A catalyst for Washington’s game-opening drive, Helu gained 32 yards on five carries, including the last two for a touchdown. He had 63 yards on 11 rushes (a 5.7-yard average) in the first half and finished with at least 100 yards for the second time in as many weeks.
As strong as Helu is, though, and as hard as he runs, he should have had more opportunities. Helu did lose a fumble, but so what?
The Redskins need to prepare him for a full-time starting role at the outset in 2012. Forget about his mistakes. Build for the future with him now.