ASHBURN Even before their plane landed on Sunday night, the Washington Redskins began analyzing what went wrong during a fourth-quarter meltdown against the Denver Broncos.
Washington allowed 38 unanswered points, most of them off five fourth-quarter turnovers.
“I can’t remember another scenario like that,” veteran linebacker London Fletcher said. “The dynamics of how quickly it changed, in a matter of maybe 10 plays, that was probably the weirdest thing about it.”
Coach Mike Shanahan was questioned during his Monday media conference about the team’s run-pass balance, which skewed toward the pass in the fourth quarter despite strong rushing statistics to that point.
Shanahan pointed out that on the first drive of the fourth quarter, the Redskins went three-and-out with three incomplete passes, but two should have resulted in big gains.
“It had nothing to do with the play calling,” tight end Niles Paul said. “We had chances to make plays that weren’t made, that could have changed the outcome of the game.”
Instead, quarterback Robert Griffin III threw behind Josh Morgan, and Aldrick Robinson missed what appeared to be a routine catch.
“Those are plays that you’re going to try to make, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Shanahan said.
The passing game has become a top concern in Washington. Griffin appears to have regained his mobility after offseason knee surgery, but a combination of errant throws and dropped passes has kept his passing stats down.
His completion percentage is down six points from last year, and his average throw is down from 8 yards to 7. On Sunday, Griffin failed to complete a pass that traveled longer than 15 yards.
Receiver Pierre Garcon was frustrated by the team’s lack of production. He disagreed with the suggestion it might have been more painful coming against the Broncos, who have the league’s worst pass defense.
“It doesn’t matter if you play the worst team or our defense, if you (stink) at passing, you (stink) at passing,” he said. “I think we’ve had trouble passing all year, to tell you the truth.”
Those struggles turned into excellent field position for the Broncos, who didn’t have to drive more than 35 yards for any of their fourth-quarter touchdowns. It also raised the question of why the Redskins didn’t run the ball more.
Running back Alfred Morris was on the field for fewer than 50 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps on Sunday.
He said on Monday he had no problems with his lack of touches.
“I couldn’t care less about getting the ball,” he said. “All I care about is winning. I tell you all that every week, and it’s the truth. I’m not just saying that because it sounds good.”
If Griffin and the receivers had done their part, it would likely be a moot point this week.
Instead, breakdowns in the passing game snowballed into a blowout loss in a matter of minutes.
“Up 21-7, you want to put that game away,” Morris said. “All you had to do was put the pedal to the metal. But we weren’t able to do that.
“It’s frustrating, because we should have had that game won.”
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What’s the call?
The Redskins attempted 25 runs and 19 passes in the first three quarters of Sunday’s game. But in the decisive moments, as the score swung from 21-21 to 38-21, Washington all but abandoned the ground game.