Sunday, January 2, 2011, 9:24 p.m.
REDSKINS PAGE REDSKINS VIDEOS
By Ryan OHalloran
A year ago, the Redskins flew home from San Diego with a miserable record and in an even worse mood, knowing the personnel chief had already changed and realizing their head coach would soon be fired.
It was like a reoccurring nightmare, linebacker London Fletcher said. It was torture. From a personal standpoint, it wasnt a good place to come to work; it was mentally and physically draining.
Contrast that to the mood in their locker room following Sundays season-closing 17-14 loss to the New York Giants, the Redskins fifth consecutive home defeat. The Giants failed to make the playoffs because Green Bay beat Chicago.
The Redskins improved by only two games (6-10) and lost a tiebreaker to Dallas for last place in the division.
But somewhat surprisingly, the players were primarily upbeat.
Hard to believe isnt it?
They say it isnt.
We just have to keep working on it because eventually, the chips are going to fall in our favor, linebacker Brian Orakpo said.
Said center Casey Rabach: The games we lost, you look at how much we lost by five by four or fewer points, those games were darn close. Thats definitely a positive thing. We just have to build on that.
Thing is, a sixth straight loss to the Giants showed how many building blocks need to be added. The reserve cornerbacks struggled in coverage in place of Carlos Rogers. The quarterback position is muddled after Rex Grossman finished with seven turnovers in his three starts. Kicker Graham Gano missed his NFL-high 11th field goal. And there are beau-coup issues along both lines and at linebacker.
Players who took their exit physicals on Friday or after the game arent required to be at Redskin Park Monday so they wont have to review the Giants tape. If they do, it will be a vastly different reaction than last months 31-7 beat-down by New York.
Aside from four third-and-long conversions given up and Eli Mannings 92-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham, the Redskins defense was vastly improved from the first meeting.
Way different, safety Reed Doughty said. We attacked the line of scrimmage and we werent getting blown off the ball. It was frustrating that one or two plays again was our demise. We played solid all day but one run and one long pass hurt us.
As usual, the Giants jumped to an early lead 10-0 on a Lawrence Tynes 20-yard field goal and 2-yard Brandon Jacobs run that capped drives of 78 and 69 yards.
Grossman (26-of-46 for 335 yards) was struggling until the final drive of the first half. He completed 5-of-6 passes during a two-minute drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown toss to Fred Davis.
It helps when youve got great protection and guys are running great routes, separating from defenders and youre both on the same page as far as receiver and quarterback, Grossman said.
The Giants extended their lead to 10 points when Manningham ran past DeAngelo Hall, caught Mannings pass in stride at his own 30 and scored untouched.
The Redskins were in single coverage and when Hall leapt to tip the pass and missed, it was over.
Its a play nine out of 10 times, I have to make it and I didnt make it, Hall said. One thing I dont do in the past is get beat for touchdowns. I made a lot of plays this year but I got beat more than Ive ever got beat in my career combined.
Said Manning: It really wasnt a route; he just put his hands up and said, Hey, I beat him bad off the line and Im going to run a go route.
While Manning was celebrating his longest career completion, fans were calling for John Beck in the second half as the Redskins started punt, punt, fumble and fumble.
One play, though, got the Redskins back in the game. Anthony Armstrong used a double move down the middle of the field to catch Grossmans pass for a 64-yard touchdown with 5:52 remaining. Armstrong said it was the same kind of route he ran during a 48-yard touchdown against Green Bay.
I dont mind catching the long passes and scoring touchdowns, he said.
Unlike past games, though, the Redskins defense gave the offense a chance to tie or win the game, forcing a punt that gave them possession at their own 17-yard line and 2:11 remaining. Alas, Grossman was off target on two of his last three passes to allow New York to finish with a 10-6 record.
In addition to Grossmans second 300-yard game of the year, Santana Moss caught nine passes for 74 yards to finish with a career-best 93 receptions. Phillip Buchanon had an interception but the defense was unable to sack Manning.
His players excused, Shanahan and his staff will spend the next two weeks dissecting the last 16 games.
Any first year is kind of tough, he said. You want to run a system and youre taking a look at the good, the bad and the ugly and thats part of the evaluation process. You find out a lot about people when you deal with adversity. I found out a lot about our people the last couple of weeks and I liked what I saw.
Contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org