Loss to Cowboys brings drama back to Redskins
Six bleeps in 40 seconds. Maybe that'll be the most noteworthy statistic from the Washington Redskins' loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The liberal use of expletives came from cornerback DeAngelo Hall, one of the Redskins' five team captains, before the team's public relations staff cut him off in the locker room following Monday night's 18-16 loss to the Cowboys.
Too late. Hall had already ripped the refs for a facemask call and criticized his coach's decision to dial up a blitz that backfired.
A week ago, the Redskins were jokingly - and happily - calling themselves ''boring.'' Now they've got their drama back, thanks to another crazy game against their most hated rival.
There's Hall's verbal barrage. There's coach Mike Shanahan - his hair a mess because he just took off the headset - unleashing a glare that would set fire to glaciers after Rex Grossman's latest critical turnover, a play that down the road might be remembered as the moment another quarterback controversy began. There's the curious pass-happy play-calling by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in the second half. There's yet another Redskins chapter in the book on how to botch a field goal.
The loss dropped Washington to 2-1, in a three-way tie for first in the NFC East. It also exposed many of the flaws that had critics doubting the Redskins in the first place. Yet they were oh-so-close to 3-0, beaten by a hair by a Cowboys team that looked thoroughly disorganized and needed a heroic game from Tony Romo to muster six field goals - with no touchdowns.
Now comes a short week to prepare for a road game against the awful-looking St. Louis Rams (0-3). Lose that one, and the party will truly be over.
For the time being, the focus remains on the play that got Hall so riled - the third-and-21 that Romo and the Cowboys converted on the game-winning drive. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett opted for a full blitz - eight men on the line - when conventional wisdom says to blanket the field so as not to allow the big play.
The Cowboys were ready. They spotted the blitz and contained it while Romo rolled right and found Dez Bryant, who eluded Hall enough to make the catch for a 30-yard completion. Hall had no safety help because of the blitz, and he left no doubt as to his feeling that Haslett had gone to the well once too often - and at the wrong time.
''Sooner or later, someone's going to (expletive) figure it out,'' Hall said. ''You don't have to be a (expletive) rocket scientist to figure it out after a while.''
So the blitz wasn't a good play?
''You tell me,'' Hall answered. ''The end result was a first down.''
To make things worse for Hall, he was flagged for a facemask penalty on the play. He said it was the ''worst call of the game'' and that the official would ''get demerit points'' because of it.
Hall's words reverberated Tuesday as the standing word on the matter because Mike Shanahan kept Redskins Park off limits. Shanahan chose not to address reporters the day after the game, despite a new and explicit recommendation from the league offices that coaches do so.
Linebacker Brian Orakpo, appearing on Redskins affiliate ESPN980, acknowledged that the full-out blitz probably wasn't the best idea.
''It kind of backfired against us. ... I know it's a call we wish we could have back,'' Orakpo said.
The third-and-21 debacle would have been irrelevant had the Redskins taken advantage of a number of other opportunities. They had a field goal blocked for the second straight week, this time because holder Sav Rocca bobbled a slightly high snap from Nick Sundberg. The offense drove inside Dallas' 35-yard-line five times but managed only one touchdown.
In the final minute, Grossman had the Redskins near midfield with enough time to get in field goal range when he was flushed out of the pocket and stripped from behind by Anthony Spencer, the type of turnover that appears too often on Grossman's resume and helped make it touch-and-go whether he or John Beck would win the starting job out of training camp.
Kyle Shanahan kept Grossman busy with a lopsided game plan while the Redskins were ahead. The Redskins ran 13 plays while holding the lead in the second half: 10 passes, two runs and one sack. The results of those three drives: punt, punt and punt.
''When you're on the road, against a division rival, and you've taken a 16-9 lead in the second half, it's crucial to have another scoring drive,'' Grossman said. ''And for whatever reason, we couldn't do it. We've got to swallow this one, get ready for a short week, and come back strong.''
Otherwise, the season will have a familiar feeling.
''I don't think this team's going to take a huge lesson from this loss,'' tight end Chris Cooley said. ''I think the only thing we can say is `find a way to finish.' It's cursed us since I've been here.''
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP