Drop hurts Redskins more than chain gang gaffe

If Fred Davis holds on to the ball, the chain gang mistake helps

the Washington Redskins.

If Pierre Garcon holds on to the ball, the Redskins have a first

down in New York Giants territory with plenty of time to finish the

drive and possibly tie the game.

The glaring error by the officiating crew didn’t cost the

Redskins in their 24-17 loss Sunday night. Some of the same

mistakes that have plagued the team all season did.

”We had a few opportunities there in that final drive,” coach

Mike Shanahan said Monday.

The Redskins had three dropped passes on their last possession,

when they took over with 2:32 remaining and a seven-point deficit.

The biggest drop come on the same play in which the officials

goofed.

A catch by Garcon put the ball at Washington’s 45, just short of

a first down. However, the head linesman, with the Redskins in a

hurry-up offense, incorrectly motioned for the crew to move the

chains.

Thinking it was first-and-10 – when it was actually third-and-1

– quarterback Robert Griffin III threw downfield to tight end

Davis, who seemed to have a secure catch with both hands at New

York’s 30 – until the ball was jarred loose by a defender.

Then, on fourth-and-1, Griffin completed a 6-yard pass to

Garcon, but safety Will Hill stripped the ball from the receiver

for a game-sealing turnover. Shanahan pointed out that Garcon’s

facemask was grabbed by cornerback Jayron Hosley on the play.

”Pierre’s the strongest guy on our team, and nobody really rips

the ball out of his hands,” Shanahan said. ”And so that was quite

unusual. And if you take a look (at the replay), one of the

defensive backs has his hand on his facemask bringing it down, and

that was probably the only reason why the DB did get it away from

Pierre.”

It was all part of a second half was symptomatic of what has

happened to the Redskins (3-9) this year, and why they have

clinched a losing record for the third time in Shanahan’s four

seasons in Washington. Problems with fundamentals and discipline,

along with another special teams calamity and a suddenly stagnant

offense, leave the team tied for the worst record in the NFC.

There were dead-ball penalties on Santana Moss, DeAngelo Hall

and Garcon in the second half, and Shanahan cited mitigating

circumstances for all three. The coach said a holding penalty that

got Moss upset at official ”should not have been called a holding

penalty” and that Hall was retaliating against a Giants offensive

lineman. The flag on Garcon for kicking the ball in frustration

after an incomplete pass in the end zone was a crime of passion,

according to the coach.

”He’s one of the most fierce competitors I’ve been around,”

Shanahan said of Garcon. ”If I could get everybody playing like

him, you won’t need coaches.”

Nevertheless, Shanahan also said he’ll address the penalties

with his team, saying ”you’ve really got to keep your cool in

those situations.”

With the Redskins mathematically eliminated from the playoffs,

Shanahan said it’s time for his team to play spoiler, starting with

this week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

”You play just as though you were in the playoffs,” Shanahan

said. ”You want to spoil somebody else’s year. You want to play at

a high level. You’re always being evaluated for the future. And

that never changes.”

Shanahan said he won’t start playing backups to just give them

game experience.

”If you want to see a team turn on you,” the coach said,

”just go start playing younger players and start playing for the

future.”

Notes: Shanahan said the Giants made it a point to take away

Alfred Morris, which is why the running back had only 11 carries

for 26 yards. The coach also said Morris was having trouble getting

footing on the slick field and that the absence of FB Darrel Young

(hamstring) and FB-TE Niles Paul (illness) also hindered the

running game. … Shanahan said the Redskins need to address the

slick track near the stands that caused Griffin to take a nasty

pratfall after running out of bounds. ”That was probably the best

hit of the whole game,” the coach said. ”We’ve got to do

something because somebody could seriously get hurt right there.”

… LB London Fletcher sprained his left ankle in the fourth

quarter, which might endanger his streak of 252 consecutive games

played. … Fletcher, Hall (left hip) and Reed Doughty (concussion)

were the significant injuries from the game, and TE Jordan Reed

(concussion) had a last-minute setback that caused him to sit out

his second straight game.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP