Redskins' strategy, execution failed near halftime

Redskins' strategy, execution failed near halftime
October 31, 2011, 2:10 pm
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Although they had done next to nothing offensively and had allowed the Buffalo Bills offense to move up and down the field, the Redskins still were in the game as the two-minute warning approached. The Bills led 10-0 and faced third and goal at the eight. Thats when, for the first time all day, someone on the Redskins made a play.Ryan Fitzpatrick fired a pass to Stevie Johnson, who was about a yard into the end zone. It seemed that Fitzpatrick expected Johnson to cut in front of London Fletcher for the reception. But Fletcher was having none of that as he fended off Johnson and made the interception.The Redskins had the ball back at their own 20 with 1:55 and two timeouts left. If they could get on the scoreboard before halftime they could go into the locker room with some momentum, something that has eluded them since the first half of the Rams game. Even if they could just kill the clock they could get back to the locker room and regroup they still would have been in it.From the 20, John Beck scrambled for seven yards. In what has become an infuriating pattern, the clock ticked down seconds while the Redskins tried to line up to get off another play. There was 1:48 left in the half when Beck slid at the end of his run. The clock read 1:28 by the time the ball was snapped on second and three. The Redskins got all set offensively but the Bills got set as well.Against the four-man rush from a team that had just four sacks in six games coming into this one, Beck had less than two seconds to throw before the Buffalos Dwan Edwards was in his face and he was sacked for a loss of seven.Facing third and 10 at their own 20 with 1:22 left in the half, Mike Shanahan made the curious decision to call a timeout. Perhaps if the Washington offense had shown any signs of life that would have been a good idea. But they had just 53 yards of total offense at that point. The better thing to do would have been to let the clock run or let the Bills to use one of their timeouts.A screen pass to Roy Helu was good for eight yards and the Bills burned their first timeout. Team MVP Sav Rocca boomed a 52-yard punt and Buffalo got the ball back at its own 20 with 1:05 left in the half. Two plays later it looked like the Bills would go into the locker room up by 10 as it was third and four at the 26.But Fitzgerald fired a pass to Johnson, who got the first down just past the 30. On the next play, Fitzgerald threw to Freddie Jackson near the right sideline. Rocky McIntosh was right there but he whiffed on the tackle and Jackson scooted up the sideline for 46 yards to the Redskins 23.Three plays later, Fitzpatrick spiked the ball with two seconds left (leading one to wonder how this might have played out if the clock had continued to run when the Redskins had to ball third and 10 or if the Bills had been forced to use a timeout then) and Rian Lindell kicked a field goal.Any chance the Redskins had at momentum was gone. Buffalo took the second-half kickoff, marched swiftly downfield for a touchdown to make it 20-0 and the competitive phase of the game was over.