The Washington Redskins’ secondary continued to surrender huge yardage to opposing passers Sunday, allowing the Cincinnati Bengals to strike for big plays early and late in the game to spoil the Redskins’ home opener at FedEx Field.
The Bengals amassed 401 passing yards, 328 by quarterback Andy Dalton and another 73 by wide receiver Mohamed Sanu on an opening-play touchdown to A.J. Green out of a wildcat formation.
“It’s very surprising,” Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson said. “We’re a way better unit than this. We’ve got to step up and take responsibility.”
The Redskins yielded 339 passing yards and three touchdown throws by Saints quarterback Drew Brees in the season opener. But the Redskins had two interceptions and won that game. They haven’t won since, and opponents continue to have great success throwing the ball. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in the Redskins’ Week 2 defeat at St. Louis. The Bengals had four touchdown passes Sunday, three of them by Dalton.
Overall, the team has yielded 101 points, 1,050 passing yards and 10 passing touchdowns.
“There’s no reason for our offense to average, what, 35 or 40 points and we’re not winning,” Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson said. “It’s something we’ve still got to go back and work on, make some changes and do whatever we’ve got to do to eliminate that.”
Two of Dalton’s touchdown passes came from long range, a 48-yarder to wide receiver Armon Binns and a 59-yarder to wideout Andrew Hawkins. On Binns’s touchdown, the Redskins blitzed but failed to get to Dalton and Wilson missed a tackle along the sideline after the catch.
“We gave up a big one on a blitz [and] just missed a tackle right there,” said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. “Sometimes you have to take some chances. Obviously we wound up giving them a big play.
Sanu’s touchdown throw came on his first NFL passing attempt. The Bengals lined up in a wildcat formation for their opening offensive play, usually a sign that a team is planning to run the ball. Instead, Sanu lofted a pass to Green, who made the catch and outraced safety DeJon Gomes and cornerback DeAngelo Hall to the end zone.
“It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise,” Gomes said. “Pretty much every team has a wildcat package. To come out on the first play and run it, I don’t think we were really expecting that. But at the end of the day, I should have gotten lined up and played that better.”
Said Wilson: “You’ve got to be able to be on your toes for trick plays to start the game.”
The Redskins are shorthanded in the secondary. Safety Brandon Meriweather missed a third straight game since he aggravated a knee injury six days before the season opener. Meriweather was one of three defensive starters missing from the lineup Sunday, along with linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker, who were placed on the injured reserve list last week.
“We’ve got to go through the film to see what the problems are,” Wilson said. “But it definitely doesn’t help that we don’t have our starters out there.”
Meriweather could return to the lineup for next Sunday’s game in Tampa against the Buccaneers. In the meantime, the Redskins will spend the week searching for solutions to their problems stopping the pass.
“It’s definitely tough,” Wilson said. “The defense giving up 38 points is not our M.O. We’ve got to be able to finish them out.”
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