Time came to a standstill for Antwaan Randle El. He was wide open down the middle of the field, having beaten the secondary by a good three steps. The Washington Redskins were finally going to complete a deep pass for a touchdown.
But where was the ball?
"Man, I just like, 'C'mon, man!"' Randle El said. "I don't know if the ball, the wind, just said 'Not today' or what."
When Jason Campbell finally launched the pass, it was too late and too short, with enough air under it to allow Aaron Ross to recover and make the interception.
"I said, like, 'Yes!' 'No!"' Randle El said.
That wasn't the only chance blown. Randle El said he was open for another sure touchdown in Sunday's 23-7 loss to the New York Giants, a hitch-and-go route in which Campbell threw to another receiver.
"And that's where we're at," Randle El added, shaking his head. "That's where we're at."
Exactly. The Redskins (7-5) are staring at a tough December because of a scoring-starved November that included just four touchdowns in four games. Now they'll likely have to win three of their last four -- or maybe all four -- to return to the playoffs.
"We all recognize that we're running out of time," guard Pete Kendall said. "And if we don't figure out something as a team, particularly as an offense, the promise of September and October will be for nothing."
There is more than enough criticism to go around on all fronts, but much of it Monday was focused on Campbell and coach Jim Zorn. When presented with back-to-back questions loaded with stats about the failure of his offense, Zorn pantomimed stabbing himself in the chest twice with knives before answering.
"We haven't reached that elite status of a team," Zorn said. "It doesn't mean we're not good. It just means we're one of those teams that didn't separate (from the pack). So I think we're battling. We haven't lost heart. We haven't lost the hope of putting a good game together, but we haven't done that, and it really has been on the offensive passing game side."
Zorn again defended his schemes and said the players need to execute better, though he conceded that the offense "might have to take a step back before we can take another two steps forward." His sense of humor flashed again when asked whether his play-calling had become too predictable.
"It looks like, 'Aw, they're doing the same old thing,"' Zorn said. "You're right. We're failing on a play. But that doesn't mean I called the same play. ... I don't go, 'OK, I want you to run Green Right, 2 Jet, Failure.' We don't have that play in our play book. But it does look the same. It's so frustrating."
Zorn was blunt in his assessment of Campbell's performance, calling it "very average" against the Giants. The failed long pass to Randle El was a "poor throw" that was about 6 yards short, according to the coach.
That said, Zorn unequivocally denied having any discussions about benching Campbell for backup Todd Collins.
"He's not totally failing," Zorn said.
The Redskins have been here before. They made the playoffs in 2005 with five must-wins that turned 5-6 into 10-6. Last year, they were 5-7 and on a four-game losing streak before winning their last four to claim the final wild-card berth.
Their record is better this year, but a more competitive NFC makes its likely that 9-7 or even 10-6 won't guarantee a January play date. It helps that the Redskins will probably be favored in three of their last four games, with Sunday's trip to Baltimore the exception.
"I don't think you can hang your hat on that and say, 'We've been here before. We know we'll do it.' You can't just go and automatically assume that that's going to happen for us," middle linebacker London Fletcher said. "The bottom line is over the last five, six ballgames, we haven't played well."
The Redskins also play three of their last four on the road, which might be for the best given that they've lost their last three at home. The Baltimore game is sort of a hybrid, however, because the team will stay in the same hotel that it uses Saturday nights for home games.
"It's not making a whole lot of sense that we've struggled the way we have in November," Randle El said. "But this is the time where you find out about yourself.'
Notes: Fletcher made it through the game despite a sprained left foot that kept him from practicing last week. He wore a walking boot Monday. "It's not as much pain, but it's a significant amount of swelling," Fletcher said. "I compare it to a pregnant woman's foot. My wife, she was pregnant, so I know about that." ... RB Clinton Portis (knee/neck), DE Andre Carter (foot) and LT Chris Samuels (knee) also struggled through injuries to finish the game. CB Shawn Springs reaggravated the calf that has nagged him all season. DT Kedric Golston (foot) missed the game but is expected to play against Baltimore. LB Marcus Washington (ankle) will likely miss his third straight game.