Bad snap, hold dooms Redskins

Bad snap, hold dooms Redskins
December 12, 2010, 11:32 pm
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Sunday, December 12, 2010, 6:30 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff writer
CSNwashington.com

As his teammates celebrated around him following Santana Moss touchdown catch with nine seconds left in regulation Sunday, Redskins safety Reed Doughty recalled his year as a high school place-kicker.

The FedEx Field surface was soaked after nearly three hours of steady rain.

The football was slick and tough to handle.

And kicker Graham Gano had already missed two field goals and narrowly made one attempt.

My thought was, This is not a gimme lets get a good snap, a good hold, a good kick and go to overtime, Doughty said.

Unfortunately for the Redskins, Doughty was prophetic.

Nick Sundbergs snap was high and went through the hands of holder Hunter Smith, negating an attempt and allowing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to escape with a 17-16 victory.

In front of the smallest home crowd in eight years (66,124), the 5-8 Redskins dropped their third straight game and need to win out to prevent a sixth losing season in Dan Snyders decade-plus of ownership.

Thats the first time Ive ever lost a game on a botched extra point, inside linebacker London Fletcher said. You stick around long enough, youll see a lot.

The point-after malfunction concluded an ugly day for the Redskins special teams. In addition to Ganos misses (34 and 24 yards), they also fumbled a squib kickoff to start the second half. The miscues combined to equal a come-from-ahead loss.

Ive never had that bad of a game in my life, Gano said.

An unlikely offensive drive put the Redskins in position to tie the game. Starting at their own 25, the Redskins dinked-and-dunked their way down the field 7 yards to Chris Cooley, 8 to Anthony Armstrong, 15 to Cooley, 15 and 9 to Keiland Williams, 9 to Santana Moss and 10 to Armstrong to get a first-and-goal from the 2 with 32 seconds remaining.

Three plays later, on fourth down, Donovan McNabb (22-of-35 for 228 yards) found Moss for a 6-yard score. But in an instant, Gano was tracking down the snap and injuring his ribs in the process.

The conditions and everything dont help Hunter in that situation but unfortunately, it was a little higher than I wanted it to be, Sundberg said.

In his second year with the Redskins, Smith continues to be associated with crazy special teams plays, the point-after-that-wasnt joining his two touchdowns and infamous swinging gate play last year.

Heres the thing people are going to call for Grahams head, theyre going to say it was a high snap, theyre going to blame me for dropping it, Smith said. Im a 12-year vet and I have to catch the ball and get it down. It doesnt matter if its raining, it doesnt matter where the snap is. If anybody needs to lose their job, its me, certainly not one of those guys. I certainly accept blame and hope I receive the blame.

But the blame should be spread out.

To an offense that reached the red zone four times in the first half and came away with 10 points.

To a head coach (Mike Shanahan) who copped to making a mistake by not realizing the timeout he called was 30 seconds, contributing to a delay of game penalty.

And to a defense that sacked Josh Freeman just one time and dropped two sure interceptions.

Plays we normally make, we didnt make, cornerback DeAngelo Hall said.

Said Fletcher: Its been this way since Ive been here, finding a way to lose ballgames, let teams stick around when we shouldnt be in that situation where youre scratching and fighting in the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bays winning touchdown came at the 3:47 mark when Freeman threw 41 yards to tight end Kellen Winslow. Bucs left tackle Donald Penn got away with a hold on Brian Orakpo. Shanahan showed the officials a picture of the hold after the touchdown.

He wasnt held, he was mugged, he said.

Said Orakpo: I was held around the neck. You have back judges there for a reason. For him to tell me he wasnt looking at the play we have downfield judges for that. I dont understand it. Ive been held all season.

The loss wasted Ryan Torains productive return to the field. Out four games because of a hamstring injury, Torain rushed 24 times for 172 yards, including 158 yards in the first half, the most in the NFL in five years.

The offensive line was working so well, he said. They were opening up big holes and we were stretching them and cutting back.

Torain helped the Redskins move the ball in the first half but drives stalled at the 16- (missed field goal off the left upright), 6- (missed field goal wide left) and 7-yard lines (25-yard field goal, just barely inside the left upright). The only successful trip was McNabbs 1-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal to rookie Logan Paulsen.

The Redskins now hit the road to play at resurgent Dallas and a Jacksonville team that leads the AFC South.

I just told our team, Hey, the first thing I see are people playing hard, Shanahan said. I thought we played our hearts out. You cant make the mistakes we made and win a tight football game.

Said defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday: This is a frustrating loss, as well as we played, as hard as guys fought when, at this time of the year, the only thing on the line is pride. Guys laid it all out on the line and to lose it in the fashion we did, Ive played a lot of football but that was a first.

Contact Ryan at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com