As the Washington Redskins returned to Los Angeles for the second time this season, this time to face the Los Angeles Chargers, they looked every bit the 5-7 team that they walked in as. The offense struggled to get generate and sustain momentum, the defense was thoroughly gashed, and the special teams unit only added to the team’s woes.
Washington started the game on defense after winning the coin toss and deferring to the Chargers, and it was then that the Redskins’ troubles began. On the very first play, Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers connected with wide receiver Tyrell Williams for 34 yards, who was ultimately brought down by perpetual hard-working linebacker Zach Brown. The Chargers pushed on for 9 more plays, and, after 60 yards, the Redskins defense kept them out of the endzone but yielded a field goal.
When Washington responded with a punt after a failed five play drive involving Kirk Cousins connecting with Jamison Crowder and Samaje Perine managing just six yards on the ground, the Chargers returned to the field to flex their offensive muscle. In less than five minutes, Rivers led his team on a 92 yard, 10 play touchdown drive that gutted the Redskins’ defense. In addition to weak pressure on Rivers and failed efforts to stop the Chargers’ receivers, penalties against Washington helped keep the Chargers’ drive alive; a defensive pass interference penalty against Bashaud Breeland was declined, but penalties against both Ryan Anderson for unnecessary roughness and Josh Norman for a face mask were accepted. It was only the start of a rough day for Norman, who was badly beat on two of the Chargers’ ___ touchdowns, including a 75 yard reception by Williams and a 51 yard touchdown reception by Keenan Allen.
After the Charger’s first touchdown, which put them up 10-0, the defense would have just moments to regroup before having to take the field again. On the kickoff, running back Byron Marshall, who’s been on the team for less than a month, injured his hamstring after seeming to get his foot caught on the ground, and then Cousins followed that with an interception on a deep pass intended for Vernon Davis on the first play of the drive. In spite of their struggles, the defense did manage to limit the Chargers to short pickups on the ensuing drive and held them to just a field goal as the first quarter came to a close.
The second quarter went much the way of the first: the Redskins had moments of productivity, but mostly failed to sustain any kind of success. After the Chargers’ field goal, Cousins led his offense 77 yards on a 9 play drive to put six points on the board. Perine continued to find his efforts on the ground thwarted, gaining just 11 yards; however, Cousins managed a few big yardage plays through the air, including a pass to Ryan Grant that turned into a 28 yard pick-up, a 15 yarder to Niles Paul, and a 23 yard deep pass to Vernon Davis for the touchdown. The momentary high was quickly followed by longer-lasting lows, as kicker Nick Rose tallied his first missed extra point all season and the Chargers scored a 75 yard touchdown on their first play after receiving Rose’s kickoff. The only “feel good” moment at the end of the half came when rookie Austin Ekeler failed to get down on the final play, choosing instead to go for the touchdown and leaving the Chargers with no time left on the clock to attempt a field goal and further their lead.
When Washington returned from the locker room after halftime, they showed up with the same lack of energy and inconsistencies that characterized the earlier part of the game. Every single offensive effort ended in a punt; Cousins and his teammates couldn’t string together a drive of longer than six plays, pick up more than 23 yards (one drive ended with a total of -3 yards), or stay on the field for more than three and a half minutes. They tried involving a variety of weapons, including Davis, Crowder, Josh Doctson, and Brian Quick, but nothing seemed to connect for them.
The bright spot, if there was one, came on defense. Out of seven drives, the Redskins allowed the Chargers to score just once, a touchdown that came on the aforementioned 51 yard play to Allen. Norman bit on the flea flicker, and D.J. Swearinger was unable to cover for his teammate to prevent Allen from getting into the end zone. After Rivers left the game at the end of the third quarter and was replaced by back-up Kellen Clemens, Bashaud Breeland attempted to return a little bit of dignity to the burgundy and gold sideline. Breeland, who seemed to be replaced by Quinton Dunbar earlier in the game, intercepted Clemens’ pass as the Chargers sat on Washington’s 9 yard line, and he returned in 96 yards for a touchdown to cut their opponent’s lead down to 17 points. As the defense forced Los Angeles to punt on the next drive, Breeland’s pick six, the first points the Redskins had scored since the 10 minute mark of the second quarter, turned out to be the final points of the game.
It was an ugly loss without much in the way of redeeming moments from players or coaches, and the Redskins are now in a position of having to win out just to reach 8-8 for the season. It’s an uphill battle, and one they haven’t demonstrated, based on recent performances, that they’re likely to win. Washington will next face the 6-7 Arizona Cardinals at FedEx Field before taking on the Broncos at home on Christmas Eve and travelling to play the Giants on New Year’s Eve.
How would you grade Washington’s performance against the Los Angeles Chargers?
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