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How It Should Be Remembered: The Redskins’ Loss At Indianapolis In Week 13

The Redskins fell to 3-9 with a 49-27 loss at Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon (Nov. 30, 2014).  Here were the 10 most important items from the game:

1. Here we are again

This loss clinched the Redskins’ fifth losing season in six years and ninth losing season in 13 years.

This loss also eliminated the Redskins from playoff contention.

2. The Redskins’ defense gave up five touchdowns of at least 30 yards

The Colts amassed 487 total net yards of offense on just 49 plays and just 23:55 time of possession.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 370 yards and five touchdowns.  He went 4-of-7 for 182 yards and three touchdowns on balls thrown more than 20 yards downfield.

     •    Luck’s first-quarter first-and-10 30-yard under-center play-action touchdown pass to tight end Coby Fleener came with him wide open thanks to a blown coverage by corner David Amerson and despite an illegal-use-of-hands penalty on rookie corner Bashaud Breeland.

     •    Luck’s third-quarter third-and-two 48-yard shotgun touchdown pass to rookie receiver Donte Moncrief featured another blown coverage by Amerson, who threw his arms up.

     •    Luck’s third-quarter second-and-10 73-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Fleener featured major YAC thanks to missed tackles by safety Ryan Clark and linebacker Everette Brown.

     •    Luck’s fourth-quarter third-and-nine 79-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Moncrief featured Amerson getting beat and safety Phillip Thomas blowing his coverage.

Running back Daniel “Boom” Herron’s early-second-quarter second-and-two 49-yard shotgun-handoff touchdown run featured a bad angle taken by safety Brandon Meriweather and Herron running away from Amerson and Clark.

The Redskins’ defense did have to deal with various injuries.

     •    Meriweather left the game in the second quarter due to a big-toe sprain

     •    corner Chase Minnifield left the game in the second quarter due to a concussion.  He was placed on the reserve/injured list on Saturday (Dec. 6).

     •    linebacker Keenan Robinson suffered an MCL sprain in the second quarter but returned to the game

     •    defensive end Kedric Golston suffered a back sprain during pregame warmups and Gruden revealed on Monday (Dec. 1) that Golston is also dealing with plantar fasciitis

     •    linebacker Will Compton suffered a spine injury

3. The Redskins did force three more takeaways, all in the first half, but failed to capitalize on them

Each of the Colts’ first two drives resulted in Redskins takeaways.

     •    Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan produced a sack-strip and defensive end Jason Hatcher recovered the fumble on the first offense play of the game.  But the ensuing Redskins drive went just eight yards on four plays and resulted in Kai Forbath’s first-quarter 25-yard field goal.

     •    Clark had a second-and-nine pick on the Colts’ second drive of the game.  But the ensuing Redskins drive resulted in a three-and-out.

Linebacker Perry Riley Jr. forced a late-second-quarter fumble on a first-and-10 seven-yard reception by Herron.  The ball was recovered by Clark.  But the ensuing Redskins drive resulted in a three-and-out.

The Redskins, who totaled just nine takeaways over the first 10 games, now have six takeaways over the last two games.  But the Redskins have totaled just six points off those six takeaways.

4. Quarterback Colt McCoy was very mixed.  Among the negatives:

McCoy was credited with four fumbles, including a third-quarter fourth-and-one I-formation play-action sack-strip by linebacker Erik Walden.  Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson recovered the ball and returned it 35 yards for a back-breaking touchdown that helped to give the Colts a 35-17 lead.

The McCoy-led Redskins had just 92 total net yards of offense in the first half, going 1-for-7 on third downs and producing just eight first downs.

The Redskins’ offense had a number of administrative issues, including communication and tempo problems.  McCoy was hit with a fourth-quarter third-and-24 three-yard delay-of-game penalty on a drive that resulted in a punt.  Head coach Jay Gruden on Monday (Dec. 1): “I just felt like the tempo was terrible.”

McCoy was off on some throws.

     •    McCoy’s threw too low on a fourth-and-goal-at-the-2 I-formation incompletion intended for tight end Jordan Reed on the first play of the fourth quarter.

     •    McCoy had a near-pick in the end zone on an early-fourth-quarter second-and-three shotgun incompletion intended for receiver Andre Roberts, who was forced to play defender.

McCoy was sacked six times, though Gruden said on Monday (Dec. 1) that only one or two of the sacks could be considered on McCoy.  Gruden also said that the majority of the sacks were on the running backs and tight ends and that the offensive line played pretty well.

5. But McCoy got going midway through the second quarter and finished with some impressive numbers

McCoy went 31-of-47 for 392 yards, three touchdowns and no picks.  He threw for 374 yards and three touchdowns over the final three quarters.

McCoy shined on the opening drive of the second half, an eight-play. 80-yard drive that resulted in the play of the game for the Redskins: McCoy’s second-and-five 16-yard under-center play-action-boot touchdown pass to tight end Logan Paulsen off evading three Colts pass rushers.  Also on the drive was McCoy running to his right to extend the play on a third-and-four 24-yard shotgun completion to Roberts.

McCoy actually under-threw the ball on his third-quarter first-and-10 42-yard shotgun touchdown bomb to receiver DeSean Jackson.  But that six-play, 80-yard drive also included a second-and-three 11-yard read-option shotgun run by McCoy and him doing a nice job of sliding up in the pocket on a second-and-19 29-yard shotgun completion to Reed.

6. Redskins pass catchers shined with the exception of one key guy

Reed had nine receptions for 123 yards on 11 targets.  He did a terrific job of generating YAC on his second-and-19 29-yard reception on the drive that resulted in Jackson’s third-quarter first-and-10 42-yard touchdown reception.

Jackson had five receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown on six targets.  His ball-tracking skills were on full display in catching what was an underthrown ball on the third-quarter first-and-10 42-yard touchdown reception.  Jackson did leave the game late in the third quarter with a right fibula contusion.  And he was the victim of what appeared a cheap shot by safety Mike Adams, who was on the receiving end of a gentle shove from fullback Darrel Young and, in attempting to sell the shove as a late it, flopped to the ground and dove into Jackson’s legs after an early-third-quarter first-and-10 18-yard reception off I-formation play-action.

Roberts had just two receptions on five targets, but the two catches were impressive:

     •    leaping catch on a third-and-10 22-yard reception on the drive that resulted in running back Roy Helu Jr.’s second-quarter 21-yard touchdown reception

     •    third-and-four 24-yard reception on which Roberts did a great job of keeping his feet in-bounds.  The drive resulted in Paulsen’s early-third-quarter second-and-five 16-yard touchdown reception.

Helu had four receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown on four targets.  The touchdown was a second-quarter 21-yard reception on a choice route off McCoy operating out of the shotgun.

A negative was receiver Pierre Garcon’s frustrating season continuing.  He had just three receptions for nine yards on nine targets and now has just10 receptions for 64 yards on 20 targets over the last four games.

7. The penalty and return problems continued for Redskins special teams

Paulsen’s early-third-quarter second-and-five 16-yard touchdown reception helped to cut the Redskins’ deficit to 21-17.  But defensive end Frank Kearse committed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on the extra point, and safety Phillip Thomas then committed a five-yard offside-on-free-kick penalty on the ensuing kickoff.  The ensuing Colts drive resulted in Moncrief’s third-quarter third-and-two 48-yard touchdown reception.

The Redskins exited Week 13 last in the NFL with 22 accepted special-teams penalties.  The Redskins had 21 accepted special-teams penalties all of last season.

Roberts had punt returns of 11 and six yards and an 18-yard kickoff return.  He exited Week 13 16th out of 25 qualified players in the NFL in yards per punt return (8.2) and tied for 15th out of 17 qualified players in the NFL in yards per kickoff return (22.6).

8. Forbath and punter Tress Way continued to be positives

Forbath went 2-for-2 on field goals, connecting on an early-first-quarter 25-yard field goal and an early-fourth-quarter 29-yard field goal.  He now is 19-for-22 on field goals this season and 54-for-62 on field goals over his three seasons with the Redskins.

Forbath did only see just one of his six kickoffs result in a touchback.  For comparison’s sake, seven of Pat McAfee’s eight kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.

Way averaged 46.5 yards and 41.0 net yards on six punts.  He exited Week 13 first in the NFL with an average of 48.3 yards per punt and fifth in the NFL with an average of 41.5 net yards per punt.

9. The Redskins’ running game was disappointing

The Redskins trailed 21-3 in the second quarter and 35-17 and 42-24 in the fourth quarter, so the nature of the game dictated against running the ball.  But even when the Redskins did run the ball, the results weren’t what they could have been.

The Redskins totaled 21 carries for 84 yards, averaging 4.0 yards per carry against a Colts defense that entered the game 29th out 32 NFL teams in yards allowed per carry (4.55).

Running back Alfred Morris had 17 carries for 67 yards.  If you take out his first-and-10 21-yard under-center-toss run on a first-quarter drive that resulted in a punt, he had 16 carries for 46 yards.  Also, Morris failed to catch the ball on a late-first-quarter under-center-toss play that officially resulted in a McCoy fumble that Morris recovered.  The drive resulted in a punt on the first play of the second quarter.

10. Absentee list

Inactives for the Redskins were:

•    corner E.J. Biggers due to a concussion suffered in the Week 12 loss at San Francisco

     •    defensive end Stephen Bowen for the second time in three games.  He was underwhelming over his first three games this season off missing the first six games of the season due to being on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list, which he was placed on this past Aug. 30 due to microfracture surgery on his right knee last Dec. 3.

     •    receiver Leonard Hankerson for a second straight game.  He committed a late-third-quarter third-and-eight five-yard false-start penalty on a drive that resulted in a punt in the Week 11 loss to Tampa Bay.  That game marked his season debut off having been placed on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list on Aug. 30 due to season-ending surgery to repair ACL and LCL tears in his left knee on Nov. 21, 2013.

     •    quarterback Kirk Cousins for a fourth straight game

     •    receiver Aldrick Robinson for a seventh straight game.  He was waived on Saturday (Dec. 6).

     •    right tackle Tyler Polumbus for the fourth time in five games

     •    rookie guard Spencer Long

The Redskins also played this game without:

     •    linebacker Brian Orakpo, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Oct. 21 due to a torn right pectoral muscle suffered in the Week 7 win over Tennessee

     •    corner DeAngelo Hall, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Sept. 22 due to a torn left Achilles injury suffered in the Week 3 loss at Philadelphia.  We learned on Oct. 31 that he had torn the Achilles again.

     •    corner Tracy Porter, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Nov. 26 due to a right AC-joint separation suffered in the Week 12 loss at San Francisco

     •    safety Duke Ihenacho, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Sept. 22 due to a fractured heal bone suffered in the Week 3 loss at Philadelphia

     •    linebacker Adam Heyward, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Nov. 24 due to a tibial plateau fracture in his right leg suffered in the Week 12 loss at San Francisco

     •    linebacker Akeem Jordan, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Oct. 18 due to a sprained left MCL suffered in the preseason-ending win at Tampa Bay on Aug. 28 and then re-aggravated in the Week 6 loss at Arizona

     •    nose tackle Chris Neild, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Aug. 30 due to a torn right ACL suffered in the preseason-ending win at Tampa Bay on Aug. 28

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