A look at the good (Hail!) and bad (Fail!) from the Redskins' 25-16 loss to the Titans on Saturday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Hail: That Redskins Drive
You know the one. With 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter and the Redskins trailing 6-3, Washington began its third drive of the game from its 7-yard line. Seventeen plays, 93 yards and nearly 11 minutes later, the visitors had a 10-6 lead. It was only the Redskins' sixth drive of at least 17 plays since 1999, and it was their longest by time in the last 25 years. The methodic march featured six Josh Johnson completions to five different receivers, including a touchdown pass to Michael Floyd, 10 runs by four different ball-carriers, a second-and-27 from the shadow of the Washington goal line, three third-down conversions, two penalties and a sack. It was a perfect encapsulation of just how in control Johnson was of the offense for most of the game.
Fail: That Titans Drive
You know the one. With 8:09 remaining in the game, the Redskins had taken a 16-12 lead. Titans backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert had done little to indicate he was capable of leading a touchdown drive after replacing the injured Marcus Mariota just before halftime, but he opened Tennessee’s ensuing series with a 35-yard strike to Taywan Taylor. Gabbert followed that with a couple of incompletions, only to be bailed out by an illegal contact penalty on Fabian Moreau on third down. Derrick Henry rumbled for 30 yards on Tennessee’s next three snaps before Gabbert found tight end MyCole Pruitt uncovered in the back of the end zone for a two-yard touchdown pass off play-action. The Titans led for the first time since the second quarter. The Redskins would fall to 0-8 this season when allowing more than 17 points.
Hail: Adrian Peterson
What more can you say about this guy? Peterson carried 26 times for 119 yards, becoming the first Redskins player since Alfred Morris in 2014 to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a season. He also joined Franco Harris, John Riggins and Frank Gore as the only running backs to accomplish that feat at age 33 or older in the last 50 years, and he passed Eric Dickerson for eighth-place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.
“The loss overrides that,” Peterson said after the game. “Hopefully, maybe I will appreciate it after Christmas. I play this game to win and to have the opportunity at a championship. Falling short of that opportunity is what is heavy on my heart right now."
Fail: Missed Opportunities
Late in the first half, the Titans faced a third-and-four from their own 42-yard line. Tennessee called a screen pass, which Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger recognized immediately. Swearinger made a beeline for Titans running back Dion Lewis and was in position to make a tackle for a loss to force a punt, but Lewis avoided Swearinger’s diving attempt at his legs and turned the play into an 18-yard gain. The drive culminated in a field goal. Back-to-back possessions in the third quarter produced similarly frustrating what-if moments for the Redskins. On the first, Michael Floyd dropped a pass that hit him in the hands and would’ve resulted in a first-and-goal. Instead, Washington settled for a field goal. Minutes later, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had a Gabbert pass go directly between his hands, and what should’ve been an interception was a 14-yard completion to Darius Jennings. Tennessee kicked a field goal a few plays later.
Hail: The Over
Anyone who bet the under on Saturday’s game had to have been feeling pretty, pretty good when the Redskins took the field at their own 15-yard line with no timeouts and 14 seconds to play. The over/under closed at 38, and with the Titans leading 19-16 at that point, bettors who took the over needed a miracle. Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler came through, returning Johnson’s desperation heave on the final play of the game 56 yards for a touchdown as time expired.
Fail: Matt Ioannidis’s Jersey
I had to look up how to spell Matt Ioannidis’s name every time I mentioned him during his first two seasons in Washington. Now that he’s an established starter and a valuable contributor along the defensive line, I could confidently spell Ioannidis’s name backwards if necessary. The person responsible for printing the nameplates for the Redskins' jerseys? Not so much. Ioannidis, who left Saturday’s game with a bum hamstring in the second half and did not return, sported a jersey with his name spelled incorrectly. (There was an extra ‘N’ after the IO.) Talk about adding isnult to ijnury. This is the type of mistake one might expect on the jerseys for the Redskins’ rotating cast of offensive linemen, who practically need name tags on the front of their jerseys for teammates to tell them apart.
The Redskins won’t finish the season with a winning record, but their playoff hopes weren’t extinguished Saturday. Washington can no longer win the NFC East, but with one more win it can claim a wild-card berth if the Eagles and Vikings lose their remaining two games or the Eagles and Seahawks lose their remaining two games. In other words, Redskins fans should be cheering for the Texans, Lions and Chiefs on Sunday. The Redskins will face the Eagles in the season finale next weekend.
Fail: Calling Out Coaches
D.J. Swearinger has never been shy about offering his assessment, good or bad, after a game, but until Saturday he had avoided openly criticizing Washington’s defensive coordinator. Swearinger made it crystal clear that he didn’t approve of Greg Manusky’s game plan, including his decision to play man coverage on the Titans' game-winning touchdown drive. The humble Swearinger also suggested he puts more time into his craft than his coaches.
“I’m a very smart football player," Swearinger said. "I probably watch more film than the coaches. That’s probably documented. I try to give my insight, but you know, it doesn’t work. I can only put my heart in this [expletive], dog. Put my heart in this [expletive] to give them what I can give them. Whether they take it or not, that’s another thing. That’s another frustration that comes from me, when we don’t win.”
For the record, other players showed love for Manusky and Coach Jay Gruden on Saturday.
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