Redskins vs. Jets: Washington gives up three fourth-quarter touchdowns in 34-19 loss

December 4, 2011

In a colossal fourth-quarter collapse, the Washington Redskins gave up three touchdowns in just more than three minutes Sunday to fall, 34-19, to the New York Jets at FedEx Field.

A week after snapping a six-game losing streak with an impressive fourth-quarter comeback against the Seattle Seahawks, the Redskins couldn’t maintain their offensive rhythm and finish strong against the Jets.

The Redskins teased the mostly burgundy-clad crowd of 74,121 by opening the game with an authoritative drive and held the lead until late in the fourth quarter.

But by the second Jets touchdown of the fourth quarter, Redskins fans started heading for the exits. As New York running back Shonn Greene ripped off a 25-yard touchdown run with 1 minute 47 seconds left, a couple of thousand Jets fans, who outlasted their Redskins counterparts, let out a Jets chant that rocked the stadium.

“It’s frustrating. You come out in the second half and I think we had three series of three-and-outs,” Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said after the game. “On offense, we had a chance to get the momentum of the game and we didn’t. . . . They got the touchdown but we were still in the football game. I’m just disappointed the way we finished.”

As if suffering their eighth loss of the season wasn’t enough for the Redskins, reports surfaced shortly before kickoff that starting tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams face suspensions for the remainder of the season for failing drug tests.

Shanahan said after the game that he hadn’t yet received word on the suspensions and would comment at a later time. But the team kept the locker room closed long enough for Davis and Williams — who both played against New York — to gather their belongings and leave before reporters were permitted to conduct interviews.

The suspensions are yet another stroke of misfortune for a team already short-handed with seven players on injured reserve. With its remaining schedule, Washington, which has had just two winning seasons in the last 12 years, appears headed toward its third consecutive losing campaign.

As he has for much of this season, Davis provided one of the few bright spots for Washington’s offense against the Jets. He recorded six catches for 99 yards and fell just 53 yards shy of setting the team’s single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end (849 yards).

The Redskins also leaned heavily upon rookie Roy Helu. The rookie running back rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, and had four catches for 42 yards.

In addition to their strong defensive effort, the Redskins stayed in front of the Jets by virtue of three field goals from Graham Gano, who would add a fourth late in the game. Washington led 16-13 with 7:52 left to play after Gano drilled a 46-yard field goal.

But the Redskins’ fortunes changed on the kickoff that followed. Gano — known for his strong leg on kickoffs — was instructed to send a shorter, high-arching kick the Jets’ way in hopes that an upback would bobble the ball and fumble or be stopped for a short gain deep in New York territory. But Gano didn’t get a clean hit on the ball and the kick traveled only to the Jets 20-yard line.

Upback Josh Baker fielded the short kick and returned it 29 yards to the Jets 49-yard line. Washington forced New York into third and four, but allowed Mark Sanchez — who had struggled to that point — to complete a 10-yard pass over the middle to Greene.

Two plays later, Sanchez, whose longest completion until then had gone for 18 yards, connected with wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a 30-yard touchdown pass to give the Jets their first lead.

And with that, the wheels came off for Washington.

With his team down 20-16 with 4:33 left, quarterback Rex Grossman couldn’t find an open receiver. As he looked downfield, he was drilled by New York linebacker Aaron Maybin and fumbled the ball. The Jets recovered at the 9-yard line, and on second and goal from there, Greene took a direct snap and scampered into the end zone. Nick Folk’s kick split the uprights, and the Jets took a 27-16 lead.

The Redskins tacked on the final Gano field goal but failed to recover an onside kick, and on the Jets’ first play from scrimmage, Greene went 25 yards for his third touchdown of the game.

“It’s extra disappointing,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “Especially defensively, we played well for three-and-a-half quarters. A lot of things hurt with the way we finished. We have a lot to learn from and need to get ready for next week. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”

Greene finished the day with 22 carries for 88 yards and three scores. He provided the bulk of the offense for New York, with Sanchez completing just 19 of 32 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.

Grossman also managed only 19 completions on 46 attempts for 221 yards, a late-game interception and a fumble.

“The first half was all right,” said Grossman, whose team mustered only 11 yards on 12 plays in the third quarter. “The second half, it was always something, whether it was a sack on first down to move the chains. It’s just frustrating. I don’t really have an answer for you. I’ll watch the tape. It’s cliche, but really, I don’t know why. We got stuck and we weren’t able to have the same production.”

The Redskins opened the game with the offense picking up where it left off last week. They took the opening kick and marched 82 yards, reaching the end zone on a two-yard run by Helu eight plays into the game.

The score marked the second straight week, and only the second time this season, that Washington has opened a game with a touchdown drive. Helu started the game with a 15-yard run and two plays later, Davis hauled in a 42-yard reception. Four plays after that, Helu took a pitch and dove into the end zone.

But the Jets came right back with a 17-play, 74-yard drive capped by a one-yard run by Greene.

The teams then both cooled offensively. The Redskins went in at halftime up 13-10 after two field goals by Washington and one by New York.

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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