It had all the makings of a Redskins classic. But given the way the season has gone, we should have known better.
Rex Grossman threaded the needle to Jabar Gaffney on a 22-yard scoring strike to send the home team to the locker room up 14-10 at halftime. The touchdown not only gave the Redskins their first lead since Week 4, but it also gave them a reason to believe they could salvage a win over the hated Cowboys to ease the pain of another season gone sour.
But despite a gutsy effort from the entire team, it ended in similar fashion to the previous five games – with a 27-24 overtime loss and an infuriated locker room.
“Anytime the offense puts points up on the board like that we got to win the game,” said DeAngelo Hall. “We’ve been [whining] and complaining over the past couple weeks about [the offense] putting up 10 points, nine points, 12, and they come out here and put up 24 and we don’t win the game.”
Hall blamed himself for giving up the decisive third-and-15 conversion to Dez Bryant in overtime much like he did after Bryant converted a third-and-21 against him earlier this season. Both plays led to game-winning field goals for Dan Bailey and the Cowboys.
Save for a few inches difference, the outcome might have been positive. Graham Gano’s 52-yard field goal attempt in overtime would have secured the Redskins a victory, but the kick drifted just right and five plays later Hall slipped in coverage – perfect examples of a team who can’t catch a break.
Not that Hall is going to make excuses.
“It was a play in practice I’ll make and I’ve made before so like I said, if I’m evaluating the stuff from the front office, I might be the first one to run myself out,” he said.
Despite the result, Washington played with a measure of desperation in what felt like a last-ditch attempt to rescue its season. The Redskins have been outworked and outclassed throughout this six-game losing streak except for today, when they went toe-to-toe with a better football team.
“There’s as much character as I’ve been around on a football team,” said Mike Shanahan. “Even with adversity there are guys doing everything they can.”
Grossman did all he could, making several picturesque throws to overshadow his one interception. A key third down pass to David Anderson set up his mad dash to the end zone for the Redskins first score, and of course there was his fade route to Donte Stallworth for the game-tying touchdown.
Grossman and Stallworth played their own personal game of keepaway from the defender as the quarterback placed it perfectly over his receiver’s shoulder with just enough room to pull it in and tap the toes. Offensive prowess not often witnessed at FedEx Field, but the late-game magic left everyone with a feel-good vibe heading into overtime.
“Yeah, I did,” Grossman said when asked about whether he thought the Redskins were going to win it.
“You play for those moments,” he added. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get a victory.”
It may be painful now, but the Redskins are losing with a purpose (see: Barkley, Matt or Luck, Andrew) and this slide could very well be the key to ending these miserable Sundays that often almost seem better spent raking leaves or getting started early on the Christmas shopping.
But hey, at least this one – however heartbreaking it may have been – came with some style points. If you’re going to lose, might as well look good doing it, right?