Phoenix, Ariz. (October 12, 2014) – The Washington Redskins passed their way to a 30-20 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals yesterday afternoon. The loss drops to the Redskins to 1-5 in the NFC East.
The Redskins returned to their horrific ball handling ways with four turnovers in the fourth quarter. Kirk Cousins, who was 24 for 38 with 354 yards passing for the day, threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter to go with his two touchdown passes. Ande Roberts added a fumble to the turnover totals when he was stripped by Arizona Safety Tyrann Mathieu.
The game started off well enough as neither team could gain the upper hand as each side traded punts on four successive possessions. However, with each trade of possession, the Cardinals were inching towards the Washington goal line. After Tress Way kicked a 42 yard punt, Ted Ginn of Arizona returned the ball 14 yards before he was pushed out of bounds at the Washington 41. From there, Carson Palmer capped a 5 play, 41 yard drive with a 20 yard TD pass to Michel Floyd to take a 7-0 lead.
The Redskins answered back on their next drive. After a couple of runs by Alfred Morris and a couple of short passes by Cousins, the Redskins found themselves with a 2nd and 20 on their own 36 yard-line after Cousins was sacked by Alex Oakfor. On the ensuing play, Cousins found the ever reliable DeSean Jackson with a short pass then he rambled and flew on for a 64 yard touchdown score, tying the game at 7-7, early in the second quarter. The Redskins then took a 10-7 lead on their next possession after a 10 play 65 yard drive resulted in 28 yard field goal by Kai Forbath.
The Cardinals got the ball with 2:49 left in the half. Carlson Palmer took over with a 10 play all passing drive that resulted in a 24 yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitgerald for a 14-10 Arizona lead. The Redskins then started with the ball on their own 20 with 31 seconds left in the half. After Roy Helu ran around the right end for an 8 yard scamper, Kirk Cousin’s then threw one pass to Roy Helu for 33 yards and another to Alfred Morris who ran out of bounds at the Arizon 25 yard line with 7 seconds left in the half. Forbath then kicked a field goal to put the game at 14-13.
The Redskins went into the locker room with a relatively balanced attack (for them) in the books, with 12 rushing plays for 41 yards and 19 passing plays for 198 yards. Also, perhaps the most important stat in this game was no turnovers. This was the Redskin’s Achilles heel of the second half.
The third quarter started with Washington receiving the ball hoping to continue the momentum from the end of the first half. After getting a first down with a 10 yard pass to Jordan Reed, the Redskin drive stalled on their next series of downs. The Cardinals, then started with the ball on their own 16 yard line after a Washington punt and marched down the field in a 14 play, 69 yard drive that culminated in a 33 yard field goal and a 17-13 lead. At this point, the coaches put the entire game into Kirk Cousins hands as the Redskins called only one more running play the rest of the game-a decision that turned out to have dire consequences.
After the field goal, the Redskin’s next drive began on their 20 and finished on their 26 with a 3 and out effort. The Cardinals then executed an 8 play, 39 yard drive for another field goal and a 20-13 lead. On the first play of the next series, Cousins completed a short pass to Andre Roberts who was stripped of the ball for the game’s first turnover. With the Cardinals starting on the Washington 27 yard line, they executed a 6 play 8 yard drive the resulted in another field goal for a 23-13 lead.
With 10:27 left in the game, the Redskins decided at this point to going all out with the pass, and Kirk was just not able to deliver today. On the next drive, he tried to go back to Andre Roberts again and was picked off by Rashad Johnson who ran the ball back to the Washington 46 yard line. However, the only damage done was time of possession and eating away at the clock as the Cardinals weren’t able to capitalize on the turnover and they had to punt the ball away.
The Redskins then started with the ball on their own 11 with 5:55 to play down by two scores, 23-13. The Redskins then drove the ball to the Arizona 42 on 6 plays that were all passes or pass attempts. The next attempt (7th) came up ”craps” as Cousins threw his second interception to Jerraud Powers. Once again, the only damage was clock damage as the Cardinals ended up punting again after burning the clock down to 3:43.
After starting with the ball on their own 36, Cousins completed two passes to Roberts and one to Reed before capping the drive with a 5 yard TD toss to Pierre Garcon to close the gap to 23-20. The Cardinals then got the ball with 2:15 remaining before running the clock down to 29 seconds and punting the ball to the Redskins.
With the ball on their 10 yard line, tying the game with this little time left was a tall order, but not an impossible task. However all hopes for a dramatic comeback were dashed when Cousins, on his first pass attempt of the drive, threw his third pick of the game to Rashad Johnson (who had two of them) that was run back for a TD.
After starting the game calling four rushing plays for every 6 passes in the first half, the coaching staff went with one rushing play for every four passes in the second half. This unbalanced attack led to the Redskin’s undoing as all four turnovers resulted from passing plays. If you look at the best teams in football, the mix is closer to 50-50.
With a backfield of Alfred Morris and Ray Helu, we hope to see more of them next week when the Redskins take on the Tennessee Titans at 1:00 pm at FedEx Field.