WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Where did the Washington Redskins go wrong? Robert Griffin III was supposed to lead his team to an easy victory over first-year head coach Chip Kelly and the revamped Philadelphia Eagles.
It didn’t play that way. Not by a long shot. Even former D.C. mayor Marion Barry said the game was “painful” to watch.
So what went wrong? The diagnosis is quite simple.
“We had a serious case of the can’t-get-rights,” Griffin said. “Penalties, hurting ourselves. I don’t throw picks, Alfred doesn’t fumble and Kai doesn’t miss field goals. All three of those happened tonight.”
Indeed, fumbles, penalties, a missed field goal and two interceptions spoiled the quarterback’s long-awaited return from injury.
It was an uncharacteristic performance by the Redskins, one that could not be masked by a meaningless burst in the fourth quarter that made the final score respectable.
Washington couldn’t have played much worse during the opening 30 minutes in a 33-27 loss to the Eagles on Monday night. The Redskins made only three first downs in the first half, Alfred Morris fumbled twice, and Griffin appeared to be shedding layers of rust every time he dropped back to throw.
The second-year star had been sidelined for eight months following knee surgery, but he wasn’t about to blame the inactivity for a first half in which he went 5 for 11 for 53 yards and an interception to help Washington sink into a 26-7 hole.
“I’m responsible for the way I play,” Griffin said. “I didn’t play very well in the first half. That’s just the way it is. You move on from it. I’m not going to sit here and say I was rusty. I’ve got to be accountable.”
After the deficit reached 33-7 in the third quarter, Griffin threw his second interception — the first time he tossed more than one in a game — and Kai Forbath botched a 40-yard field goal, matching his total of misfires all last season.
Although the Redskins made it interesting in the second half, the events before halftime spelled doom for the defending NFC East champions.
“We couldn’t get a lot going offensively,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “Anytime you have three first downs in a half, you’re putting your defense out there quite a bit. We put them in a heck of a jam.”
Griffin finished 30 for 49 for 329 yards — decent numbers, but misleading because so much of those completions and yardage came after the Eagles had built a huge lead. Washington finished with three straight touchdowns — the last coming with 1:14 to play.
In the first half, however, this is how Washington’s drives ended: fumble, interception, safety, punt, punt, punt.
“We stunk it up,” wide receiver Leonard Hankerson said. “In the first half we didn’t move the ball at all. We didn’t get any first downs, we didn’t score any points.”
Shanahan wouldn’t heap the blame on Griffin, and rightfully so. There were plenty of culprits, most notably Morris, who fumbled on Washington’s first offensive play of the season and later mishandled a pitchout in the end zone that turned into a safety for Philadelphia.
Asked to assess Griffin’s timing and reaction, Shanahan said: “On offense, you can’t just talk about one guy. It’s a combination of everybody. For an offense to click, you can’t have any missed assignments. We had a few busted assignments and a couple of missed balls.”
On the positive side, Griffin’s right knee took a pounding and he walked off the field without a limp.
“I think everyone wants to see me get hit and get up, and that’s what they got to see,” Griffin said.
It’s too bad, because the night started out with so much promise. With chants of “RG3!” ringing around the stadium, Griffin carried a Redskins flag out the tunnel for introductions and took a knee in the far end zone.
“It’s a great moment,” he said. “It didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to turn out, but coming out at halftime we talked as an offense and said we’ll find out a lot about our team by what happens in the second half. We found out a lot, the same thing we knew from last year. They guys have a lot of heart and we’ll fight to the end no matter what happens. You’re not jolly about a loss, but you can hold your head up.”
(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)