LANDOVER — They are the moments that will linger long into the winter and spring.
The Redskins believe they should be in the NFL playoffs for a second consecutive year. Instead, the offseason began abruptly after a 19-10 loss to the New York Giants at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon.
Playing a team that was locked into the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs and had nothing tangible at stake, Washington faltered – just as it did at home against Carolina last month or in the waning seconds of a loss to Detroit in October.
New York rested some of its key player in the second half, including star wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., and went into a shell with just nine passes after halftime to 21 running plays.
In the end, a Kirk Cousins interception with the ball at the Giants’ 43 and 1:12 to play all but ended it. It has been 24 years since Washington last made the playoffs in consecutive seasons (1991-92) and that streak will continue.
“We know what we were capable of and what the goal was, but we came up short,” linebacker Mason Foster said. “Had a lot of things that we could have done better these last couple of games to put ourselves in a better position, but we didn’t do it. It’s something that’s going to haunt you all the way until next season.”
And so an offseason of questions begins. Cousins still doesn’t have a contract after the Redskins used the franchise tag on him last year. Two of Washington’s top receivers – Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson – are free agents and there are a host of roster issues on the defensive side of the ball.
That’s all for the front office to deal with, though. There will be time for analysis and examination. In the immediate aftermath of a disappointing loss, there was only shock that it is all over.
“All we had to do was do what we do to get into the playoffs,” cornerback Bashaud Breeland said. “We had home-field advantage. Everything was set up for us, but we didn’t come out on top.”
The Redskins struggled to handle New York’s blitzes, though left tackle Trent Williams didn’t think the Giants did anything exotic. Cousins was sacked four times. The offense, one of the NFL’s best all season, went three-and-out on its first two possessions and Washington had just four first downs total in the first half.
The unit that had carried the Redskins most of the season wasn’t up to the challenge against a quality New York defense that played its first-teamers well into the game and still stung from a 29-27 loss at home to Washington in Week 3. By the time it started moving the ball in the second half the game was a 50-50 proposition at best.
“Any time you have the situation in your hands to make it to the next level and you don’t capitalize on it, it’s a disappointment,” defensive end Chris Baker said. “I love my teammates, I love the coaches here, but we just have to find a way to get it done. That’s what good teams do.”
The Redskins were a good team. They finished 8-7-1 with the tie coming in October in London against Cincinnati. But there were too many days when the defense didn’t feature enough playmakers and gave up way too many yards and was a disaster on third downs.
Washington had a good offense that couldn’t finish drives in the red zone and left too many points on the board. It all added up to a nice season that fell short of expectations for the defending NFC East champs. Now they go back to the drawing board.
“It’s over,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “We played a very good team and we didn’t get it done and just like that your season’s over. You have to say goodbye, hopefully we’ll see you all next year. Appreciate their hard work. They all did work hard, played hard. We just weren’t good enough.”
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