Grumblings heard outside of FedEx Field on Sunday from disgruntled Redskins fans often started with the phrase “mis-“, as in mistakes and missed opportunities.
Problems that, only minutes earlier, their team’s coach had trouble explaining.
Not knowing just what happened or how everything went wrong, Redskins head coach Marty Schottenheimer was left with the standard cliches after his team’s 20-6 loss to Philadelphia.
“We’re very disappointed. Ultimately, we didn’t make the plays we needed to make,” Schottenheimer said of the loss, which all but eliminated Washington from an NFC East title and, likely, a playoff berth.
“When you play a good football team, you’ve got to take advantage of opportunities. We didn’t do that.”
‘Missed opportunities’ can encompass many things, and on Sunday, it did: Dropped passes (eight of those), missed field goals (two) and missed tackles (plenty).
Stalled drives — often in Eagle territory — and not finding open receivers also occurred with alarming frequency.
“We were moving the ball … but we don’t get it finished off,” Schottenheimer added. “It’s disappointing not finishing it off.
“We can’t drop the ball, we can’t have penalties. We’re not in a position where we have a lot of margin for error.”
The problems rested mostly with the offense. The defense, despite giving up 20 points, caused its share of turnovers. Two of those came late in the game, when the Redskins were far from out of the game.
A Darrell Green interception on a poor pass from Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb resulted in no points. Same for Duce Staley’s fumble, which wasn’t so much of a fumble as it was Bruce Smith simply taking the ball from Staley.
But three plays after Green’s pick, Washington quarterback Tony Banks was intercepted in the back of the end zone. That play, seemingly, shouldn’t have happened. The Redskins had first-and-goal on the 1-yard line. Given the Eagles’ inability to stop the run, a plunge for running back Stephen Davis shouldn’t have been a problem.
Davis, however, was stopped in his tracks and lost a yard. Even Schottenheimer was surprised — saying, at that point, he was debating whether to onside kick or not. But he never got that chance.
In all, that was typical of the Redskins’ day. Philadelphia didn’t roll up St. Louis-like offensive numbers (287 total yards and just 63 on the ground). But plenty of those yards came when the Eagles needed them.
Like a 62-yard touchdown pass from McNabb to Todd Pinkston. Like a long pass to tight end Chad Lewis that set up a field goal late in the first half.
The storylines going into the game were whether the Eagles could stop an excellent running back like Davis, and McNabb’s continuing quest not to be confused with a running back.
McNabb didn’t look like a glorified running back on Sunday. Although he had three interceptions, only one of those came on a bad decision. He spread the ball around, and caused the Redskins’ spy strategy, where linebacker LaVar Arrington shadows McNabb, to be rendered useless.
After all, one linebacker watching the quarterback is one less linebacker in pass coverage.
The Redskins challenged McNabb to beat them with his arm. And though the numbers weren’t exactly sparkling, he did just that.