Against Panthers, Redskins go limp

Against Panthers, Redskins go limp
October 23, 2011, 8:41 pm

UPDATED 6:36 p.m.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo was part of a defense that allowed more than 400 yards for the second straight week, couldnt corral a rookie quarterback, had no answer for a veteran receiver and was on the field for 11 more minutes than its offense.

Add it all up and include the most important element a dreadful 33-20 loss to Carolina at Bank of America Stadium and Orakpo pointed the finger at his group, which entered ranked sixth in the NFL.

We played poorly defensively; we can obviously play a lot better, he said. This was one of those games, I can really admit, it was our fault.

Thing is, and this might be the most alarming subplot after the Redskins fell to 3-3, is there is plenty of blame to go around.

Fault an offense that turned it over two more times and neither can be pinned on Rex Grossman.

Fault receivers who dropped passes, cornerbacks who missed tackles, offensive linemen who committed penalties.

Fault an injury bug that took out three more starters.

And, per his request, fault the head coach.

I have to do a better job getting these guys ready to play, Mike Shanahan said. We should have played better than we did.

So was the foundation poured during the preparation that the Redskins would be in trouble against a one-win team for the second straight week?

I thought we had some great effort, Shanahan said of the Wednesday-Friday workouts.

Just not against the Panthers.

The Redskins are now a full game behind the Giants in the NFC East, but hardly look like a second-place team. Theyre one loss away from entering full-blown Crisis Mode, and the toughest part of their schedule remains.

What we need to figure out is what kind of team can we be? Because we need to win, said running back Tim Hightower, who left with a sprained left knee in the third quarter. I dont think were going to hit the panic button at all, but we need to figure out what direction we want to head in and go from there.

Safety Reed Doughty, who subbed for an injured Oshiomogho Atogwe, said: Anytime you lose, you question everything, obviously. We just have to keep pushing forward. The goals we had at the beginning of the season are still available. Being 3-3 is not where we want to be, but were not out of anything. But if we want to do something, we have to get better.

And that covers just about the entire roster, just like the Fault Meter.

Defense: The Panthers Cam Newton was dazzling, setting the days tone with a 25-yard scramble on the games third play, when he dodged three tacklers. He was 18-of-23 for 256 yards and a 127.5 passer rating and rushed 10 times for 59 yards. Receiver Steve Smith toyed with the Redskins secondary to catch seven passes for 143 yards.

Offense: John Becks first start in four years began with a lost fumble and ended with a garbage-time interception. In between, he tried to make do without Santana Moss (broken hand in first half) and then Hightower. Beck finished 22-of-37 for 279 yards.

Despite the warts in their performance, the Redskins were in the game midway through the third quarter when Beck capped an 82-yard drive with a 4-yard scramble touchdown.

That was the Here we go, moment of the game, fullback Darrel Young said. We knew it was a game after that.

And it was for one play.

Newton started the ensuing drive with a 33-yard strike to Smith, and Carolina pulled away for good nine plays later on Jonathan Stewarts 2-yard touchdown run.

After the Redskins went three-and-out, Carolina put the game away with an 8-minute, 26-second march (lengthiest allowed by the defense this year) to make it 30-13 on Newtons 2-yard pass to Brandon LaFell, who fooled Kevin Barnes from the left slot.

It feels great just to have the opportunity to win, Newton said. It felt like at times we were all clicking, not only on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense did what they needed to do. To have that sense, no matter what the coach called, the offense became numb Whatever you call, were going to execute it.

When Newton wasnt finding Smith, he was part of a rushing effort that gained 175 yards a week after Philadelphia gashed the Redskins for 192 yards.

You want to play aggressive, you want to come downhill but at the same time, you have to play smart when they have all those gadget plays like the zone read and option stuff, Orakpo said.

Safety LaRon Landry said: Each and every week, we think were going to hold teams to negative yards and reach our goal, but were not executing well. We have to come back and regroup as a whole on defense.

And as the season moves to Toronto and a neutral-site game with the Bills, the onus will likely remain on the defense to limit the points, create turnovers and make sure losing isnt completely their fault.

Thats our job, Landry said. No matter if our offense doesnt put any points on the board. Its always disappointing when youre not executing well, giving up yards and coming out with L's. Terrible.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com.