ST. LOUIS — The Washington Redskins have had two punts blocked in two games this season. And the punt that they had blocked Sunday contributed significantly to their first loss of the season, a 31-28 defeat to the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.
“It’s frustrating,” said linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, the Redskins’ special teams captain. “Blocked punts in this league turn to seven points, six points, and you’re not going to win too many games. Last week we won in spite of it. This week it pretty much cost us the game, in my mind. That’s a possession we lose.”
The blocked punt by the Rams’ Matthew Mulligan set up Mulligan’s go-ahead touchdown catch on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
“It was a six-man rush and there was a bit of an overload,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. “One of our guys took off a little too early and they blocked the punt. You have to stay in place to protect it longer.”
The Redskins surrendered a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown a week earlier during their season-opening win at New Orleans.
“We just have to continue to work on it,” Shanahan said. “We knew that they would come after us. It always happens after you have a blocked punt. People are going to keep coming after you until you stop it. When someone takes off a little too quick, you have to work on it, obviously. . . . It is a difference in winning and losing a game.”
The two blocked punts come on the heels of the Redskins having a league-high five field goal attempts blocked last season.
“We’ll keep seeing guys . . . come after us on punts until we can prove that we can protect,” Alexander said. “It’s hard. It’s embarrassing, really, being on what is viewed as a prestigious unit the last six, seven years and then give up two blocks on what were easy schemes and just not picking it up. It just comes with mental toughness. We need to block first and we can’t cover nothing if there ain’t no punt.”
Alexander said he will call a special teams meeting this week “to get us straight” and added: “It can’t be a different guy each week like last year with the blocked field goals. We can’t have that. We have to nip it in the bud right now. Obviously people are going to be talking about Danny [Smith, the Redskins’ special teams coach] but it comes down to us stepping up and making the blocks.”