Despite the good vibes at Redskins Park after the surprising Week 15 road victory over the New York Giants, the Redskins are 5-10 with one game remaining. Washington is ensured of finishing last or tied for last for the fifth time in the past six seasons, under three head coaches.
Those are just facts. And they’re difficult to accept for players eager to believe the Redskins are finally sprinting, not crawling, toward a revival.
“We definitely took a step back,” inside linebacker and team leader London Fletcher said. “Just very disappointing to come out and play like we played in our final game in front of our home crowd.
“Just extremely disappointed in our defense and extremely disappointed in our team. With everything that happened and what we were trying to do . . . that’s just the way it is. You have to look at it honestly.”
The defense, by far the strength of the team, gave up 241 yards rushing. The Vikings averaged an eye-opening 6.3 yards per attempt. They amassed most of their total after star running back Adrian Peterson was knocked out of the game by a knee injury on the first possession of the third quarter.
Minnesota produced 23 points in the third and fourth quarters combined, after losing starting quarterback Christian Ponder, who departed two plays after Peterson because of a concussion suffered when he absorbed a jarring — but legal — hit from Fletcher.
The Redskins reverted to sloppiness, committing costly penalties that helped the Vikings on one of their touchdown drives and nullified a potential big Washington scoring play.
“I was disappointed we had as many penalties as we did,” Coach Mike Shanahan said, “in some crucial situations.”
And, as usual, with a Rex Grossman-led team, there were turnovers.
Of course, that much wasn’t a shock. I mean, committing turnovers and producing intermittent big plays is what Grossman does. It’s just how the lovable lug rolls. He gets out of bed in the morning with two turnovers.
In the Redskins’ previous game, though, Grossman’s turnovers didn’t derail the team. It went the other way against the Vikings.
The Vikings’ first points came on a field goal shortly after they recovered a Grossman fumble that came when he was stripped of the ball on a sack.
With Washington trailing by seven points midway through the fourth, a high pass by Grossman was intercepted — the Vikings’ first interception in 10 games — and Minnesota kicked a field goal.
You can set your watch to Grossman throwing interceptions, and he’s not a viable option at the game’s most important position, at least not for a team that aspires to win Super Bowls. The Redskins haven’t won one in a long, long time, but that’s what owner Daniel Snyder wants.