First let us get the obligatory out of the way: Sunday's loss to the Texans was about as good a loss as you can expect at this point in the reconstruction project that is the Washington Redskins. Last season, while the Redskins were flailing about with extra sets of eyes and getting booed off home wins, University of Virginia product Matt Schaub led the NFL in passing yards, last week Matt engineered a rare win by Houston over the Colts that moved the Texans to 2-17 all time versus Indianapolis, two weeks into the season the Texans are solid playoff contenders and Super Bowl is not out of the question. The Redskins were beaten by a legitimately good team.
So for this week let us not fret there was no running game nor stop to consider whether Donovan McNabb makes every coach seem like Andy Reid, instead let us examine exactly how this game was lost. Here is the shorthand: Carlos Rogers, Fred Davis, Graham Gano, Chris Horton, Chris Horton.The last time things were undeniably good in this game was 4:00 minutes left, third quarter, the Redskins had just scored on a 22 yard pass from Donovan to tight end Chris Cooley, this drive featured a sack of Donovan by Mario Williams through right tackle Jammal Brown and passes of 20 yards or more to Roydell Williams and Anthony Armstrong, the Redskins at this point are winning the game by seventeen points.
On the ensuing Texans possession Houston did everything they could to surrender the ball, a penalty on receiver Andre Johnson who went out of the game with an injury after that play, then a sack of Matt Schaub by Brian Orakpo put the Texans at third and fifteen on their side of midfield, on the next play Brian was in pass coverage and followed the decoy receiver inside while Philip Buchanon was giving a cushion to the short side receiver, Matt threw a screen to Arian Foster who had no one in front of him, a tired LaRon Landry finally stopped Arian after 50 yards. THIS WAS A GOOD PLAY BY HOUSTON TO CREATE OPEN FIELD. At that point it is first and goal and the Texans score to take the lead down to ten points.
Move to the next possession, fourth quarter, Larry Johnson runs for minus ten yards in the carry that got him cut and that possession is doomed. Texans get the ball, after Andre Johnson leaves the game again, on first down Matt Schaub finds Kevin Walter over the middle, Kevin easily beats Carlos Rogers to get open. THIS 35 YARD CATCH IS ON CARLOS ROGERS. From there Houston gets into position and kicks a field goal to reduce the Redskins lead to seven points.
Now we are in the next drive, Anthony Armstrong, Joey Galloway and Clinton Portis all ring up double digits gains, the drive stalls and Graham Gano sets up for a 29 yard field goal, Fred Davis makes a be cool dude move on Brian Pollard who runs right by Fred and blocks Graham's kick, no score and the Texans get the ball back. CHECK THE REPLAY THIS IS ALL ON FRED DAVIS. Call it s special teams fail or a Fred Davis fail, either way it is a Fred Davis fail.
Each team has a three and out, on the following Houston possession the Redskins defense holds shallow in Washington territory for three plays, on fourth and ten trailing seven with just over two minutes to go, Matt Schaub finds Andre Johnson for 34 yards in the end zone, it is essentially a jump ball and Reed Doughty loses. Four plays earlier Reed and LaRon Landry had collided and clearly hurt one another, LaRon came out of the game and the Redskins had to call a timeout to get LaRon back in the game without missing a down, all of that and DeAngelo Hall notwithstanding, THIS WAS A FOOTBALL PLAY AND WHAT THEY PAY ANDRE JOHNSON FOR. The Redskins defense did a good job on this drive, forcing the Texans into a third and long and fourth and long, Andre and Matt just have the hookup. The game is now tied.
With just under two minuted left in the game the Redskins take over, any chance they had of scoring was essentially lost when Mario Williams bulled through Trent Williams and sacked Donovan for a fourteen yard loss, Trent's knee was hurt and he came out, replaced by Stephon Heyer. UH OH.
Moving to overtime, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak pulls a Mike Shanahan and ices Redskins kicker Graham Gano an instant before the kick, you could tell from Graham's follow through on the re kick that he pulled it, I have no issues with icing the kicker, I think it is detestable though it is part of the game, MISSING THE GAME WINNER IS ON GRAHAM, HE SMOOTHED THE FIRST KICK AND CHOKED ON THE RE KICK. I know it is all pressure and mindgames, that is what kickers get paid for, icing or no icing Graham missed a chance to close the game out with a win.
Now we are in the last possession of the game, after knocking down Matt Schaub on first down LaRon just hits the wall on second down, he comes out of the game injured and is replaced by Chris Horton... who immediately falls for the hard count and commits an offsides penalty to put the Texans at third and four, on the next play Houston gets a first down and on the next play Chris Horton releases toward the line before getting a step behind Joel Dreessen in coverage, Joel catches Matt Schaub's pass for 28 yards over Chris to the Redskins 18, from there it is over, Houston kicks to win the game, the breakdown is complete, let us recap the fail points:
CARLOS ROGERS allows the catch that sets up the field goal to draw Houston within seven; FRED DAVIS is lazy on a special teams block and prevents Washington from getting those three back; GRAHAM GANO makes one 52 yard kick then badly misses the re do; CHRIS HORTON puts the Texans in third and manageable on his first play in for LaRon Landry then gets behind the tight end in coverage, allowing Houston into final scoring position.
These are not coaching errors, these are failures of individual effort and highlight why talent and quality depth are so important in the NFL.
Ben Folsom remembers when Steve Czaban was an intern and is the editor of The Curly R, a blog covering the Redskins and the NFL since 2006. The Folsom Point appears Tuesdays on Hogs Haven.