Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis (83) is tackled by New York Jets outside linebacker Calvin Pace (97) and Jets free safety Eric Smith (33) in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Jets won 34-19. Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
LANDOVER, Md. (ELFIN'S ENDZONE) -- Just when it looked like that the Redskins might have turned the corner on more than three years of incompetence, they delivered a double-whammy.
First came the reports before today's kickoff at FedEx Field that tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams were going to be suspended for the remaining four games after failing a third drug test apiece.
Then came the game itself against the New York Jets, the AFC's runnerups the past two seasons but a team fighting to stay in the playoff chase.
As had been the case the previous Sunday at Seattle, Washington reached the end zone on its opening drive - thanks in part to a 42-yard catch and run by Davis - but then went into a near-offensive coma.
Still when Graham Gano booted a 46-yard field goal with 7:52 remaining, it looked like the Redskins might win two in a row for the first time since Weeks 1 and 2 and just the third time since October 2008.
But then, in the span of just 4:21, the Redskins showed again why they're the bumblers they have been since a 6-2 start under rookie coach Jim Zorn in 2008 followed on the heels of a 4-game run to the playoffs under Hall of Fame sideline boss Joe Gibbs in 2007.
After a short kickoff by Gano gave New York the ball at the Washington 49, cornerback Josh Wilson was beaten by Santonio Holmes for a 30-yard touchdown throw from Mark Sanchez. Three plays later, blocking tight end Logan Paulsen was beaten by Jets backup linebacker Aaron Maybin, who sacked and stripped Rex Grossman at the Washington 9-yard line. The Jets' Shonn Greene scored on the next play.
Now down by 11 points, the Redskins used a 41-yard kickoff return by Brandon Banks to jump-start a drive that ended in Gano's 43-yarder that cut the deficit to 27-19 with 1:59 still to play. However, not only did Washington fail to recover Gano's poor onside kick, the Jets wound up with the ball at the 25 after a 17-yard return and a penalty on the Redskins. Again, Greene scored on the next play.
And with that, in a week when its three NFC East rivals - Dallas, the New York Giants and Philadelphia - all lost, Washington failed to build on the momentum from the well-played overtime loss to the Cowboys and the subsequent come-from-behind victory over the Seahawks.
At 4-8, the Redskins have ensured a fourth straight non-winning season. And with Williams, who again didn't allow a sack on Sunday, and Davis, whose six catches for 99 yards led both teams, apparently absent the rest of the way, an offense already missing tight Chris Cooley, running back Tim Hightower and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger - all out for the year with knee injuries -- is in even deeper trouble.
Williams, the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, and Davis, whose contract is up after a career year that has seemingly ended thanks to his bonehead behavior, were unavailable for comment after the game. Coach Mike Shanahan, a noted disciplinarian who rid the Redskins of controversy magnets Clinton Portis, Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb during the offseason, said he couldn't comment until there was official word from the NFL.
But co-captain Lorenzo Alexander was eloquent, as usual, on the topic.
"Guys have got to be accountable," said Alexander, one of just five Redskins in uniform on Sunday who have suited up in a playoff game for Washington. "We know the rules. It's a shame (if the reports are true). It's definitely going to hurt us if they miss the last four games."
Indeed, it's near-impossible to see the Redskins keeping up with the potent New England Patriots, who visit Landover next Sunday, or the Giants, who nearly ended Super Bowl champion Green Bay's undefeated season today and whom Washington visits on Dec. 18.
Losses in those games would give the Redskins a third straight double-digit loss season for just the second time in franchise history.
"Next year we need to see the young guys step up and we need the old guys to really take leadership," said safety Reed Doughty, one of the few Redskins with playoff experience in Washington.
It's always wait until next year for the Redskins.
WUSA-9's Redskins Insider, David Elfin, has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of five books on the Redskins including the new "Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History."