What? You expected a shootout? The Redskins lost 24-17 in a game that was closer than shown by score, time of possession, or the exaggeration of this headline.
The Falcons held a TOP advantage of 15:02 over the Redskins. That's one quarter of football. Yet, the 'Skins had a shot to tie in the last 1:21.
Kirk Cousins' two fourth-quarter picks killed Washington's last gasp. The second interception came as Cousins was hit on the attempt. I'm a Spartans alum who cheered for Cousins for four years. Football is a world of men. No excuses offered or accepted. As tempting as it was, Cousins should not have made that throw.
Cousins: "I tried to do too much." #Redskins
— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) October 7, 2012
Opposing defenses will not stay home for Cousins as they would for Robert Griffin III. They'll play a conventional defense instead – that means lots of pass pressure on rookie Cousins. Defeating it means quicker, shorter pass attempts to beat the rush.
Oooh, but the soft coverage was such a tempting target. Cousins' second NFL pass was a gorgeous 77-yard scoring strike to Santana Moss who was all alone behind the Falcons defense. Cousins would complete another big play to Pierre Garçon for 20 yards, before throwing his first career interception in that same series.
Really, people? Not one handoff to Alfred Morris in that drive? The same Morris who averaged 6.4 yards per carry and made six first downs rushing?
With less than two minutes to go, not once did Washington hand off to their other Rookie of the Year candidate.
Lets say that Cousins 77-yard scoring bomb and the urgency of the moment swayed the Shanahans more than it should have. Hog Heaven is critical of the series, but mildly so.
When Griffin III faced a similar situation last week against the Buccaneers, he completed short passes to Moss and Fred Davis and both made yards after the catch. Griffin made a 15-yard run that positioned Billy Cundiff's successful field goal attempt.
Griffin did that while calling his own plays because of a broken headset. Cousins had a working headset and the coach was calling the plays. Did that make a difference? You decide.
With Cousins in the game. Morris has to get at least one rush or reception. Something. Anything.
Cousins achieved more TD passes (1), higher YPA 12.3 and passer rating (97.2) than Griffin III. His passer rating was higher than Matt Ryan's was. That's not any consolation.
Griffin's hit heard 'round the world
Robert Griffin III and concussion are words we never want to see in the same sentence, but here goes. RGIII's "mild concussion" is the biggest post-game concern for the Redskins. Sean Weatherspoon's hit was a legal kill shot (um) on RGIII at the end of a run on Atlanta's three-yard line. It's football. Hit happens.
Mike Shanahan said after the game the Redskins knew immediately that Robert Griffin III had suffered a concussion.
— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) October 7, 2012
Griffin and the Redskins are being lambasted for taking the hit. A look at the video appears to show that RGIII attempted to slide out of bounds, but had little room to do so.
It's Washington's nightmare scenario. Griffin will undergo concussion evaluation Monday to see if he can practice. Fans will look askance at Rex Grossman in uniform this Sunday if RGIII can't go.
Defense out of steam
Washington's defense forced Mattie Ice to throw 52 times in a possession passing game. Atlanta held the ball 37:01. Yet, Atlanta's final go-ahead score was a Michael Turner 13-yard run between OLB Rob Jackson and S Madieu Williams. Both defenders were well handled by Falcons linemen. Atlanta beat Washington's defensive alignment. Williams was up on the line, perhaps showing blitz. Ryan might have found as much success passing to exploit Williams' position. Atlanta had a good counter to Washington's scheme.
Washington's defense did not cause this much concern after their performance last year. We've touched on problems at safety in other stories. LaRon Landry is gone. So are Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson. Both were Washington's answer to the loss of Landry.
I'm evaluating the defense by the Richie Pettibon yardstick – turnovers and third-down stops. Washington gets an "A" on turnovers, thanks to Ryan Kerrigan's pick-six of Matty Ice. Atlanta converted nine of 17 third-down attempts. Now you understand Atlanta's time of possession. Epic fail for that.
The defense could not get Atlanta off the field and they just wore down. Turner running untouched for the winning score was a sign of that.
I can't think of any reason why the Redskins signed Billy Cundiff except that he is not Graham Gano. Just sayin'.
This seems like a good time to point out that the #Redskins didn't have Billy Cundiff work out for them (or kick) before they signed him.
— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) October 7, 2012
With the loss, the Redskins trail the Eagles and Giants for the division crown by one game. Dallas was on BYE. (I'm tempted to say, the BYE beat them.)
Up next, the Minnesota Vikings – the 4-1 Minnesota Vikings.
Image: October 6, 2012 – Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America via zimbio.com.
Image: October 7, 2012 – Griffin III and Cousins, FedEx Field for Falcons warm-up, Redskins.com via Instagram.
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