COMMENTARY | What is there to say? After Week 3 of the NFL season, the Washington Redskins now find themselves 0-3 and tied for last in the NFC East with the New York Giants after losing to the Detroit Lions, 27-20.
On Sunday, the Redskins had an opportunity pick up their first win of the season and, for many reasons, saw it slip through their finger tips. However, on three good drives, the Redskins came up empty thanks to two turnovers and an unfortunate replay call.
The first missed opportunity came in the second quarter. The Lions had just scored a touchdown to take the lead, 14-7. Washington got the ball on it's own 20-yard line following the touchback on the ensuing kickoff. Quarterback Robert Griffin III then orchestrated a nine-play drive that took the Redskins all the way down to the Lions' 19-yard line.
On the drive, Griffin was 6-6 with completions to Jordan Reed, Pierre Garçon, Leonard Hankerson and Logan Paulson. The Redskins' offense was rolling and they were certainly looking to tie the game at 14. On the 10th play of the drive, Griffin rolled to his right and right before he went out of bounds he tossed an errant throw towards Garçon that was intercepted by Chris Houston.
The offense seemed nearly unstoppable on the drive. The passing game was clicking and Alfred Morris was rumbling. A touchdown was inevitable until the interception by Griffin. What's worse is that Griffin forced the throw on first down. Throwing the ball away or just taking it out of bounds for the loss would have at least given Washington a chance to capitalize on the next play. Instead, they came up empty.
On their next drive, the Redskins were able to capitalize behind Alfred Morris. The second-year running back capped a nine-play drive with a 30-yard touchdown run. David Akers then booted a 32-yard field goal for the Lions and the Redskins were down by three at the half, 17-14.
After a fairly uneventful third quarter, highlighted by a game-tying 43-yard field goal by John Potter, the Redskins had hung around long enough and were tied with the Lions entering the fourth quarter, 17-17. As many of you football junkies know, you can't let a bad team hang around in a football game or they just might surprise you.
On the Redskins' first drive of the fourth quarter, they again began to march down the field. Griffin found Hankerson, Garçon and Josh Morgan for completions and even took the ball himself on a quarterback run. In six plays on the drive, they had picked up three first downs.
On first down from the 50-yard line, Griffin showed everyone a spark of his old self. He tucked the ball away and scampered downfield for a 21 yard gain. Now, this past offseason many said that Griffin needed to learn how to slide to protect himself from big hits and he did. On this play, Griffin did slide, head first. When he hit the ground, the ball shot out of his hands and was recovered by the Lions. Since Griffin slid head first instead of feet first, he was not down when he hit the ground and the ball was still live when it slipped out of his hands.
Despite doing what he thought was the right thing, he turned the football over. The poor guy just can't win, can he? Luckily, the defense held the Lions' offense to a field goal and the Redskins were only down by three when they took the field for their next drive.
It was on that drive that third, and final, crucial mistake came for the Redskins. To be honest, this was more of just bad luck than it was a mistake.
On first-down from his own 43-yard line, Griffin uncorked a moonshot hail-mary throw intended for receiver Aldrick Robinson. It was one of the most impressive throws of Griffin's career. At first glance, Robinson appeared to catch the go-ahead 57-yard touchdown pass. The replay official, on the other hand, saw something different.
Ironically, the rule that was used to overturn the touchdown call is the "Calvin Johnson rule" named after the Lions' receiver. The rule says that the receiver must maintain possession of the football all the way to the ground when falling during the catch. As Robinson hit the ground in the endzone, he dropped the football and, thus, it was ruled an incompletion.
The drive stalled after that. Griffin recovered his own fumble, the Redskins got flagged for a ten-yard penalty and they were forced to punt on fourth down.
On the Lions' next drive, quarterback Matthew Stafford found Calvin Johnson in the endzone for a touchdown to take the 27-17 lead. John Potter tacked on one more field goal for the Redskins to bring the score to the eventual 27-20 final.
The Redskins have no one to blame but themselves for this loss. On three occasions, the Redskins missed perfect opportunities to put points on the board. The Lions' let the Redskins hang around in this game and the Redskins nearly stole it from them. While Washington has many things they need to work on, capitalizing on opportunities and not making mistakes in crucial situations should be at or near the top of that list.
Brian Skinnell lives in the Washington D.C., metro-area and began covering the Redskins on his own blog titled "The Skinny On Sports". You can also check him out on RantSports.com and on a weekly NFL segment on Yahoo AM 730 Sports in Memphis, Tennessee . You can follow him on Twitter, @Brian_Skinnell.
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