The Redskins concluded a 4-12 season with a 44-17 loss to Dallas on Sunday afternoon (Dec. 28, 2014). Here were the 10 most important items from the game:
1. Bad football
The Redskins’ seven combined wins over the last two seasons mark the franchise’s worst two-season stretch since 1993-94, which also featured seven combined wins. The second-most recent stretch of such futility was 1961-62.
The Redskins also…
• did not make the playoffs for the 18th time in 22 seasons
• finished with at least 10 losses for the fifth time in six seasons
• finished with a losing record for the ninth time in 13 seasons
• finished last in the NFC East for the sixth time in seven seasons
• finished with the worst point differential in the NFC for a second straight season (minus-137 in 2014 off minus-144 in 2013)
2. The Redskins’ defense was bad, especially in the first quarter
The first quarter featured:
• The Cowboys accumulating 17 points and 213 total net yards of offense
• Quarterback Tony Romo going 8-of-9 for 155 yards and two touchdowns
• Receiver Dez Bryant totaling three receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns on three targets
The Redskins’ tackling was terrible for much of the game. Among the examples:
• Corner David Amerson missing on an attempted tackle of Bryant on a hitch on his first-quarter second-and-nine 65-yard touchdown reception
• Safety Ryan Clark missing on an attempted tackle of running back Joseph Randle on his late-fourth-quarter first-and-10 65-yard touchdown run, which helped to give the Cowboys 17 fourth-quarter points
• Clark and defensive lineman Chris Baker missing on attempted tackles on running back DeMarco Murray’s second-quarter second-and-five nine-yard touchdown run
• Safety Phillip Thomas missing on an attempted tackle of Murray on his first-and-10 eight-yard run on the early-second-quarter drive that resulted in Dan Bailey’s 32-yard field goal
Amerson, a second-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, had a really bad game. His regression is one of the most disturbing aspects of this season. Among Amerson’s mistakes:
• Missing on the attempted tackle of Bryant on a hitch on his first-quarter second-and-nine 65-yard touchdown reception
• Getting beat by Bryant on his late-first-quarter first-and-10 23-yard touchdown reception
• Committing a first-and-10 26-yard pass-interference penalty on the early-second-quarter drive that resulted in Bailey’s 32-yard field goal
• Getting beat by receiver Terrance Williams on his late-fourth-quarter third-and-16 51-yard reception on the drive that resulted in Bailey’s 23-yard field goal
The Redskins finished the season:
• Tied for 29th in the NFL in points allowed per game (27.4)
• Tied for 25th in the NFL in takeaways (19)
• Tied for 24th in the NFL in opponents’ third-down efficiency (43.0 percent)
• 23rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (248.4)
• Tied for 20th in the NFL in sacks (37.0)
• 12th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (107.6)
• Tied for 12th in the NFL in yards allowed per rush (4.1)
3. Don’t be mad at the Cowboys for Randle’s touchdown run
Randle’s late-fourth-quarter first-and-10 65-yard touchdown run comprised a one-play drive that started with 1:49 left and the Cowboys with a 37-17 lead.
Could the Cowboys have had Romo take a series of knees? Yes. But should the Redskins fan be mad at the Cowboys for trying to score? No. Be mad at the Redskins for being unable to stop the Cowboys from scoring.
A potential explanation for the Cowboys not conceding the drive may be the brawl that followed quarterback Robert Griffin III’s fourth-quarter second-and-goal two-yard touchdown run off an offset-I play-action scramble. Receiver Pierre Garcon decked linebacker Kyle Wilber, sparking the melee.
4. Fitting end to a bad season for the Redskins’ offense
The Redskins scored just 17 points, marking the 11th time this season that the Redskins scored 20 or fewer points. The Redskins finished the season 26th in the NFL in points per game (18.8).
The Redskins went 4-for-12 on third downs and finished the season 30th in the NFL in third-down efficiency (31.5 percent).
The Redskins went 0-for-2 on fourth downs and finished the season last in the NFL in fourth-down efficiency (4-for-16).
The Redskins went 1-for-4 in the red zone and finished the season 26th in the NFL in red-zone efficiency (47.92 percent).
The Redskins allowed three sacks and finished the season 31st in the NFL in sacks allowed (58).
5. Griffin was mediocre at best
The bad from Griffin included:
• Three second-half turnovers, including two red-zone picks to linebacker Bruce Carter.
o The first pick came on a late-third-quarter fourth-and-one on which Griffin operated out of the shotgun and seemed to predetermine the throw, causing him to target Garcon despite a completion requiring the ball make its way by three Cowboys defenders.
o The second pick came on an early-fourth-quarter third-and-10 on which Griffin, operating out of the shotgun, threw ball to receiver Andre Roberts too late. The ball was tipped by corner Orland Scandrick and caught by Carter.
• Getting sacked by defensive end George Selvie for a second-and-nine six-yard loss despite having receiver DeSean Jackson open on a third-quarter drive that resulted in a turnover on downs, which came on a fourth-and-four three-yard shotgun completion to tight end Jordan Reed on a play on which Griffin should have thrown the ball to Jackson
• Throwing to Reed instead of Roberts on a second-and-six pistol incompletion on a late-third-quarter drive that resulted in a punt
Griffin, who was listed as probable for this game with a right shoulder injury, did throw for a career-best 336 yards and did have his first rushing touchdown since the NFC East-clinching win over the Cowboys in Week 17 of 2012.
Griffin finished the season with a career-worst Total QBR of 30.8 and a career-worst 4.6 yards per carry. He did have a career-best completion percentage of 68.7, but much of that had to do with throwing short so often. Not counting his throw-aways, Griffin threw only one pass aimed over ten yards in the air in this game.
6. Jackson cemented himself as the Redskins’ 2014 offensive MVP
Jackson had two receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown on three targets. His first-quarter first-and-10 69-yard touchdown reception saw him turn a short pass into a score, giving him an NFL-best eight receptions of at least 50 yards this season and an NFL-best 30 receptions of at least 50 yards since entering the NFL in 2008.
Jackson finished the season first in the NFL in yards per reception with 20.9, three full yards better than the next best player’s average (17.9 by Arizona receiver Michael Floyd).
7. The Redskins’ running game wrapped up an uneven season
The Redskins totaled 24 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown, but at no point did you ever feel like the running game was in a groove. The Redskins finished the season 19th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (105.7) and tied for 14th in the NFL in yards per carry (4.2).
Running back Alfred Morris had 12 carries for 43 yards. If you remove his third-and-one 22-yard pistol-handoff run on the second-quarter drive that resulted in Kai Forbath’s 25-yard field goal, Morris had 11 carries for 21 yards. He finished the season tied for third in the NFL in rushes of at least 20 yards (nine) and 11th in the NFL in rushing yards (1,074) but tied for just 22nd in the NFL in yards per carry (4.1).
Running back Roy Helu Jr. returned off missing two straight games due to a big-toe sprain suffered in the Week 14 loss to St. Louis. He had six carries for 42 yards and four receptions for 41 yards on five targets. Helu had major problems in pass protection this season, but he finished it with career-best 5.4 yards per carry (on 40 rushes) and a career-best 11.4 yards per reception (on 42 catches). Helu actually finished tied for 15th in the NFL in YAC (449).
8. Redskins special teams had another major gaffe and another penalty
The Redskins appeared totally unprepared for and saw the Cowboys recover an onside kick off Bailey’s early-second-quarter 32-yard field goal. The ensuing Cowboys drive resulted in Murray’s second-and-five nine-yard touchdown run.
Tight end Logan Paulsen committed two fourth-quarter penalties, including a 10-yard illegal-block-above-the-waist penalty on a punt return by Roberts. The Redskins finished the season 31st in the NFL with 25 accepted special-teams penalties. The Redskins had 21 accepted special-teams penalties all of last season. Paulsen finished the season with eight accepted penalties and nine total penalties.
9. Forbath and punter Tress Way did cap impressive seasons
Forbath connected on his only field-goal attempt, a late-second-quarter 25-yarder. He went 24-for-27 on field goals this season, finishing tied for eighth in the NFL in field-goal percentage (88.9). Forbath now is 59-for-67 (88.1 percent) on field goals over his three seasons with the Redskins.
Way had mixed game but finished the season tied for first in the NFL in yards per punt (47.5) and tied for 10th in the NFL in net yards per punt (40.0).
10. Absentee report:
Inactives for the Redskins were:
• receiver Leonard Hankerson for the fifth time in six games
• running back Chris Thompson
• guard Josh LeRibeus, who was a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft but played in just seven games this season off being inactive for all 16 games in 2013
• corner Kenny Okoro, who was signed from the Redskins’ practice squad to their active roster on Dec. 6
• linebacker Steve Beauharnais, who was signed from the Redskins’ practice squad to their active roster on Dec. 19
• offensive lineman Rishaw Johnson, who was signed off the Giants’ practice squad on Dec. 23
• defensive lineman Travian Robertson, who was claimed off waivers from Seattle on Dec. 27
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
• defensive end Jason Hatcher, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Dec. 27 off missing the previous two games due to inflammation in his right knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this past June
• rookie linebacker Trent Murphy, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Dec. 23 due to a broken right hand suffered in the Week 16 win over Philadelphia
• 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.
• safety Brandon Meriweather, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Dec. 19 due to a big-toe sprain suffered in the Week 13 loss at Indianapolis
• 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
• rookie offensive tackle Morgan Moses, who was placed on the reserve/injured list on Dec. 11 due to a Lisfranc injury suffered in practice on Dec. 10