Redskins vs. Steelers: Bad Loss Begets Crucial Moment for Washington

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 28, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 28:  Ziggy Hood #96 and Cortez Allen #28 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins during the game on October 28, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Robert Griffin III and the young Washington Redskins hit a bumblebee-colored wall at quite a high rate of speed Sunday in Pittsburgh. Griffin had the worst game of his career thus far and the Redskins as a team put forward their worst effort of 2012, falling 27-12 in a dud loss to the Steelers

So, is this an indication that the 'Skins are about to experience the same dramatic decline that they experienced at around this same point in 2011?

This team is fairly different, but if defenses are beginning to find ways to stop Griffin and the Redskins defense isn't able to improve, Washington could be destined to put up another double-digit-loss season.

Without Brian Orakpo, the Washington pass rush again failed to compensate for terrible secondary play, as Ben Roethlisberger was able to spread it around to his deep group of receivers with ease, opening things up for the running game. 

And with Griffin unable to find daylight as a runner and his drop-happy receivers doing him no favors, the offense stalled over and over again, converting just three third downs and posting only 255 total yards. 

Young teams like this usually improve over the course of seasons like these, but combine the lack of talent on defense and the injuries they've suffered on both sides of the ball and it's beginning to look as though the 'Skins will have a few more shoddy performances like this one before the season's done. There's only so much RG3 can do to mask all of those blemishes.

The good news, I suppose, is that the expectations weren't high heading into the 2012 season. This is a transition season, if you will, and the majority of fans I've heard from aren't preoccupied with what's happening in the win-loss column. 

The reality is that this team isn't talented enough to win consistently. It's amazing that they were a play or two shy of taking the division lead in New Jersey last week and that they had led or been tied in the fourth quarter seven weeks in a row before Sunday's debacle in the Steel City. 

How will the 'Skins react to their first embarrassing loss of the RG3 era? That's of utmost importance now.

They were overmatched Sunday regardless, but they lacked focus and made far too many sloppy mistakes in Pittsburgh. If they can cut down on the drops and the silly penalties, they'll be able to make this transition season easier, increasing the odds that they'll contend after making some tweaks in the offseason.

This is sort of a fight-or-flight moment for one of the league's most promising young teams. How they respond next week at home against Carolina will say a lot about these Redskins.