It was a match up in which one team was playing for its playoff life and the other team was playing spoiler. Unfortunately, the Washington Redskins, in control again of their own post-season destiny after the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last night, put together another prime time collapse.
The team showed a couple of bright spots. Bashaud Breeland played, arguably, his best game of the season. Martrell Spaight led the team in tackles in his first NFL start, replacing the injured Will Compton. Jordan Reed proved his ability to throw a mean right jab. The positives pretty much end there, however.
Carolina dominated Washington in almost every major stat: first downs, passing yards, rushing yards, time of possession, and the list goes on. Kirk Cousins struggled to get much of anything going on offense; he telegraphed his passes early in the game, leading to a 37 yard interception by Kurt Coleman, and he had no running game to rely on. Between himself, Chris Thompson, and Robert Kelley, Cousins and his offense put up just 29 yards on the ground. 11 of those yards belonged to the quarterback.
The defense had no answer for the Panthers’ rushing attack, and Jonathan Stewart cruised past the Redskins for 132 yards. The unit had trouble getting to Cam Newton, sacking the 2015 MVP only twice, and again continued to struggle with how to cover a talented tight end, allowing Greg Olsen to lead his team with six receptions for 85 yards. When they had the opportunity to come up big, including Josh Norman getting his hands on the ball with the chance to intercept Newton along the goal line, they just couldn’t do it.
Fans are searching for someone to blame, and the calls for firings are spreading like wild fire after tonight’s loss that most likely has put the team out of contention for the 2016 post season. For now, they’re in 8th place in the playoff standings. And so, who will be the first to go - Dustin Hopkins, who missed another kick tonight (an extra point)? Joe Barry, whose defense is ranked somewhere around 26th in the league? Kirk Cousins, who some think will cost too much money after a season with record-breaking numbers but no chance at the big dance?
With all that being said, I doubt Scot McCloughan will make any major changes with only two weeks remaining in the regular season, though a mid-season change in kicker wouldn’t be abnormal for an NFL team. For now, hope hangs by a thread and Washington will have to wait to see if they will get enough help from other teams to make their way back into the playoff hunt.
By the numbers: Cousins (29/44, 296 yards, 2 carries/11 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble, 1 sack), Thompson (2 carries/10 yards), DeSean Jackson (7 receptions, 111 yards), Pierre Garcon (7 receptions/78 yards), Spaight (15 tackles, 11 solo), Chris Baker (5 tackles, 1 sack), Quinton Dunbar (1 tackle, 1 sack), Hopkins (3/3 FG, 0/1 XP)