Redskins Fall to Chiefs, 29 – 20

by Sean Conte

Redskins fans went through the wringer on Monday night, with the team looking at times like a top-shelf squad and utterly identity-less at others.

Take Washington’s first score of the game. We’ve been waiting for Terrelle Pryor, Sr. to show his speed and ball-catching skill, and we finally saw it when the 6-4 receiver went up to snatch a 44 yard TD pass in the first quarter. Finally, someone besides Chris Thompson for the highlight reel! TP ended the night with 3 catches for 77 yards and a score – by far his best game with the Redskins. I can’t complain, although we ultimately needed more from him.

The defense didn’t look bad either. In fact, at least early in the game, they looked positively stout. Kansas City’s vaunted run game stalled through most of the first two quarters, and the score was 10 to 0 in the waning minutes before halftime. Smith had been sacked and pressured frequently by then and all signs were pointing to a scoreless first half for the Chiefs. Unfortunately, Alex Smith managed to reanimate his teammates and off they went to cut our lead to a measly field goal.

Some people might say the first half was all Redskins until the end, but I’d challenge them there. We put points on the board quickly – which is great – but what followed as a classic example of letting-them-hang-around.  The Skins goose-egged through the quarter-and-a-half prior to halftime, and let Smith rip gnarly passes to Travis Kelce on 3rd and 14 and 3rd and 9 to keep the Chiefs treading water. When half-time rolled around, the Chiefs were gaining momentum, the Redskins had squandered a two-score lead (and had been cold for well over a full quarter), and Josh Norman and Robert Kelley had both exited the game. Jay Gruden was no doubt thanking the heavens that the Chiefs’ rookie kicker had missed a 46-yarder that would have effectively undone all the good we did early in the game.

Jay must have said something to inspire the guys in the locker room, because the Redskins came out with a little more offensive life after halftime. The Chiefs scored quickly on their opening drive off of a goal line QB sneak, and the Redskins answered immediately with a TD drive of their own. It’s entirely possible we could have continued to score if we’d managed to get the ball, but alas, Andy Reid’s gameplan effectively killed an entire quarter with just two drives – both ending in field goals – to put the Chiefs up by 3 with less than a minute on the clock.

The game ended in the most Redskins way imaginable, on a busted lateral attempt from Reed to Thompson that resulted in a fumble recovery and TD by Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston. There were only 4 second on the clock, so I certainly didn’t expect the Redskins to pull anything off, but it would have been nice to prevent the Chief’s defense from scoring…Just saying. Have a little dignity.

Jay Gruden continues to confound with his clock management. I’ve heard plenty of people defend his decisions within the context of certain strategies or games, but please, someone explain why you would call a timeout when your team is in the redzone and there’s less than a minute on the clock? All Jay had to do was wait, kick the field goal, and play prevent-D for a down or two. Instead he preserved time for the Chiefs, who marched downfield for the score with time to spare. Sheesh.

This team has ability. It’s obvious when Kirk fires a high-velocity ball downfield, or when Josh Doctson leaps impossibly high into the air, or when Vernon Davis uses running angles to beat a faster defender. But it’s all for naught when there’s no overall philosophy or vision. We can score on a flashy play, but can we throttle down and control the clock? Can we chip away at the front-seven with a reliable running game and a balanced attack? Can we win while also shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties and questionable timeouts? Maybe, but that doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, and damn is it a stressful ride.