The weather conditions on Sunday matched the Redskins mood following the 17-16 loss to the Bucs. Key mistakes hurt the Skins despite the rejuvenated run game and solid defense. After having a 10-3 lead at halftime, the Skins gave up 17 unanswered points to Tampa Bay in the 2nd half. Donovan McNabb then led the Skins on a two minute drive and capped it off with a touchdown to Santana Moss with 9 seconds left in the game. All they needed was an extra point to tie the game and send it into overtime, but Nick Sundberg snapped the ball too high for Hunter Smith to recover and the kick was not even attempted. The Bucs escaped with the victory. The Skins are now 5-8.
Positives – Welcome back, Ryan Torain. On the running back’s first carry of the game, he ran for 54 yards and that was just the beginning. He finished the day with 172 yards (158 in the first half) on 24 carries after spending the last few weeks on the disabled list. The offensive line certainly helped with some great run blocking. It was exactly how Mike Shanahan envisioned his offense would work. Santana Moss also chipped in with a strong game (7 catches, 82 yards, a touchdown). Defensively, the team recovered two fumbles and did a good job stopping the Bucs on 3rd down. It also seemed that Albert Haynesworth’s suspension did not affect the defense. In fact, the defensive line played well (Adam Carriker and Philip Daniels in particular) without having any distractions to derail them.
Negatives – Graham Gano missed two short field goals and nearly missed an extra point as well. If this occurred earlier in the season, Gano would be cut. At this point with 3 games remaining, it’s probably not worth letting him go. He has missed 10 field goals this season and the kicker position will have to be addressed in the off-season. The long snapper position should be addressed as well. Sundberg has cost the team on a few field goal attempts and his high snap on the final extra point attempt was a killer. There were also some major issues with clock management by the coaching staff at the end of the 1st half. Shanahan used up all of the Skins timeouts when the offense was on the 3-yard line, leaving them with only 20 seconds left. Out of confusion, McNabb called a timeout the team did not have, which lead to a delay of game penalty and pushed the ball back to the 8-yard line. McNabb threw an incompletion on 3rd down and the team was forced to kick a field goal to make the score 10-3 at the half. Had Shanahan managed the clock better, he could have given the offense a better chance to score a much-needed touchdown.