Redskins Continue Struggles at Home With Another Loss

The Giants win a key NFC East matchup at FedEx Field, building an early 13-0 lead and maintaining control throughout.
By Les Carpenter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 1, 2008

Inside the bowl of empty orange, yellow and burgundy seats a cold rain fell late yesterday afternoon, flooding the aisles and washing with it playoff dreams. Below on the sodden FedEx Field turf the Washington Redskins marched through the final pantomime of a 23-7 defeat to the New York Giants, suffering the odd indignity of finishing a game against a rival with few of their fans in the stands and the roar of an opponent's crowd echoing through the concourses.

The Redskins tried vainly to score a final touchdown that would do nothing to bring victory closer but would make defeat appear a little less one-sided. Yet even that attempt fell short on a day when nothing seemed to go right. Wide receiver Santana Moss caught one last pass, dropped his head and charged toward the end zone only to be pounded by Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas, who managed to jar the ball from Moss's arms before teammate James Butler leapt on the fumble with delight.

The Redskins were left with a sloppy, discouraging message that they might not be as good as they once assumed.

"We're a playoff team but we got to beat some teams that are playoff teams too, otherwise we are fooling ourselves," linebacker London Fletcher said as he stood in Washington's deserted locker room -- the lone player still dressed in his uniform pants an hour after the game ended. "I mean, what's our record at home?"

He didn't need to ask. The Redskins are 3-4 at their stadium and have lost three home games in a row. At 7-5 they have dropped deep into the muddle of potential National Football Conference playoff teams and likely will have to win at least three of their last four games -- if not all four -- to make the postseason.

All this on an afternoon the Redskins had reserved for celebration. For days the organization promised a stirring pregame ceremony to honor Sean Taylor, its star safety who was slain a year ago last week at his Miami area home. A plaque bearing Taylor's name and a drawing of a Redskins helmet would be placed in the team's Ring of Fame, a list of elite players' names affixed to the fa├žade of FedEx Field's top deck that serves as the franchise's hall of fame.

But the rain seemed to dampen the festivities. The stadium was only slightly more than half-filled and there was an awkward pause after Taylor's father, Pedro, spoke to the crowd when both teams came onto the field and a faint anti-Giants chant wafted in the air. Even the unveiling of Taylor's plaque, the sight of his former University of Miami teammate Clinton Portis running onto the field holding a flag bearing Taylor's jersey number "21" and Pedro Taylor's exhortations of "Redskins, are you ready to rumble? Come on, let's go!" failed to inspire much euphoria.

The game started, many seats were still empty and Washington looked flat.

As the Redskins flopped, Coach Jim Zorn raged. He has shown flashes of fire in games before; shouting at punters, linemen and even Portis, the team's top offensive player. Yet those were often short bursts of anger. Yesterday his frustration spilled all along the team's sideline. At one point he turned toward the stands and threw his clipboard at the bench with all the might his left arm could muster. At another he screamed at a ball boy when the dry ball reserved for kickers and punters was not delivered to the field and the Redskins were left to punt with a wet ball.

"I just started whining about everything, believe me," Zorn said. "I was on everybody. I was even on myself."

Later he smiled and sheepishly conceded, "I probably need to not get so mad."

But Redskins coaches seemed to see this game as the perfect chance to win a critical game against a division opponent, especially given the fact it was being played at home, on the day of the Taylor ceremony and at a time when the Giants were distracted by an incident Friday night in which wide receiver Plaxico Burress was shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub. Burress is expected to be charged today for criminal possession of a weapon and several reports said the police investigation had expanded to his teammate, linebacker Antonio Pierce, who reportedly was with him at the club.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company