The Washington Redskins had lost again, this time by 10 points in a game they led with 32 seconds left, and interim coach Bill Callahan was mad.
He marched into the interview room just minutes after the game was over and was uncharacteristically terse, ending many questions — no matter whether they were positive — with some form of, “It wasn’t good enough.”
The frustration wore on Callahan’s face. Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was in owner Daniel Snyder’s box, apparently the guest of wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who had invited his old college coach to the game after seeing Meyer was at the Army-Navy game the day before. And though Meyer had not declared any interest in coaching the Redskins next year or even sat with Snyder — instead taking a chair next to his old Utah quarterback Alex Smith — a blown lead in the final seconds to a hated NFC East rival was not going to help Callahan keep his job.
Washington could have won for the third time in four games with real momentum to believe it could win the final two as well. And suddenly that was gone, with a wide receiver named Greg Ward Jr. jumping over Josh Norman — a player Callahan doesn’t want to play but had to use because of injuries — to catch the go-ahead touchdown pass. All Callahan seemed to want to do was leave.
“Yeah, I’m disappointed,” he said, cutting off a final question in a short news conference for him.
The Redskins hate the Eagles — many of the players said as much as they stood around their locker room. Washington hasn’t beaten Philadelphia since 2016, and while many of the current players haven’t been around for all of those losses, they are learning about the importance of beating division opponents — something the Redskins have not done in this 3-11 season.
For much of the day, they really believed they were going to beat the Eagles. It didn’t matter that many of Philadelphia’s key players were hurt and the Eagles dressed just three wide receivers, one of whom (Robert Davis) the Redskins released earlier in the fall. It didn’t matter that Philadelphia came into the game a disappointing 6-7. The Redskins had fought back from deficits of 3-0, 10-7, 17-14 and 24-21 to hold a late 27-24 lead. Haskins had hit McLaurin for a 75-yard touchdown pass and Steven Sims Jr. for another score. Adrian Peterson had run for 66 yards and a touchdown himself. All of it gave them great hope. As did linebacker Ryan Anderson’s three forced fumbles.
A lot went right for a team in desperate need of momentum. So much that Sims later stood in the locker room and said: “It looks a little more promising now. We’re scoring more points, and it seems a little easier now.”
But then the defense didn’t hold when the Redskins needed it most. The Eagles sliced through it methodically, moving down the field with a mix of passes and runs until they were on the Washington 4-yard line with 32 seconds remaining. Cornerback Fabian Moreau had limped off the field three plays earlier, forcing Norman into the game. Once the Redskins’ star cornerback, Norman has been exiled by Callahan and the defensive coaches, who have suggested he has declined. Now, with Norman on the field, Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz lobbed a ball to Ward, who had somehow gotten in front of Norman. The catch was easy. The lead was gone. The game was all but over.
Later, many Redskins blamed themselves. Anderson, despite his three forced fumbles, groaned that he had missed several plays that he could have made.
“Our offense played good,” safety Landon Collins said in a blunt assessment of the defense.
“I just think you look to have a lot of plays back,” Callahan later said.
Like everything else this season, there is nothing the Redskins can get back, and there was blame to be spread all around. The losing comes no matter how much they seem to improve. On another day, Haskins’s performance would have sparkled with its promise. The quarterback who looked lost in his first appearances just weeks ago had a passer rating of 121.3. But even he was glum as he walked to the same interview room Callahan had departed shaking his head.
“I’m nowhere close to where I want to be,” he said. “This should be an average game for me.”
Somehow that seemed to be a sentiment all the Redskins felt Sunday afternoon. They had come close to a signature victory in a disaster of a season, and all they had to show for it was another loss in a home stadium filled with opposing fans dancing in the stands, chanting the name of the other team.
Some four hours after the game’s end, Snyder, Smith and their wives left Snyder’s suite and departed the stadium. They were the last ones left in the box. Meyer had presumably left long before. But, with so much uncertainty hovering over the franchise and with Meyer having suggested he might be interested in an NFL head coaching job, the question lingered: Will he be coming back?
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