Washington Redskins: Overcome by Mistakes, Squander Turnovers and Lucky Breaks

Matthew BrownCorrespondent IOctober 25, 2010

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Matt Toeaina #75 of the Chicago Bears hits Donovan McNabb #5 of the Washington Redskins after a pass at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Lucky breaks and missed opportunities are quickly becoming trademarks for the Mike Shanahan-coached Washington Redskins. They've forced a number of turnovers, but failed to score points off of those turnovers. They've had a lot of penalties go their way, but never make the most of the free plays or second chances.

The Redskins are 4-3 but could easily be 6-1 if they just cashed in on the numerous mistakes their opponents have made.

They opened the season with a nail-biting victory over Dallas that would have been a loss if not for the Alex Barron holding penalty that nullified Tony Romo's game-winning touchdown toss to end the game. That would prove to be the ultimate lucky break of the season, as it led to a Redskins win.

Against Houston, Graham Gano had a kick blocked in regulation, but had a chance to redeem himself in overtime. He hit on a 52-yard field goal that would have won the game if not for a the untimely timeout called by the Texans before the ball was snapped.

Take two, Gano misses and the Texans proceed to drive down the field and nail a game-winner of their own.

The St. Louis Rams were far from perfect against Washington, but the Redskins were just a little farther from perfect. Gano sent the opening kick out of bounds, which was just the first of many Washington mistakes. The defense allowed a 42-yard touchdown run by Stephen Jackson early on, and never recovered. On their first offensive possession, Santana Moss fumbled and the Rams recovered to the goal line. St. Louis turned it into a touchdown and converted a later interception into a field goal.

Washington didn't roll over against the Rams, but they didn't do much to capitalize on the pair of turnovers they forced or the 99 yards worth of penalties the Rams amassed.

Against the Indianapolis Colts, the defense dropped at least three interceptions en route to a 27-24 loss. It didn't help that a critical fourth quarter stand was washed away by a second Donovan McNabb interception that sealed the victory for the Colts.

The game against the Bears is the Redskins season in a nutshell, as the defense shined on one drive and stumbled the next and the offense failed to do much of anything.

DeAngelo Hall intercepted four  Jay Cutler passes, returning one for a touchdown and the defense picked up another two fumbles. On the flip side, the Redskins fumbled the ball six times, but lost only one. McNabb threw two interceptions on the day and accounted for two of those fumbles.

On the season, the Redskins are plus-eight in turnover differential and are tied for second in the NFL with 17 takeaways. That being said, Washington has only scored 130 points this season.

The Redskins have received 76 possessions from punts, kickoffs and turnovers. If they were to score a touchdown on every one of those possessions, they'd have 532 points. Realistically speaking, they would only score on half of those possessions, and probably split between touchdowns and field goals.

By that math, they should have scored at least 190 points or about as many as the 5-2 Tennessee Titans. Too many points left on the board.

The Redskins offense has 17 penalties for first downs, while their opponents have just five. The defense is allowing the third most first downs per game with 22.3, but are only allowing 19 points per game.

The defense is forcing double the league average for fumbles and recovering almost five times the league average. If you disregard the unseemly yards allowed by the defense, the Redskins have a pretty solid unit. The offense has simply failed to hold up its end of the bargain.

The Redskins should consider themselves lucky to make it to 4-3 with the sloppy way they have played in most of their games. There is no sense in harping on how they could have beaten Indianapolis and should have beaten Houston. They need to stop beating themselves by leaving points on the board.

The Detroit Lions are next on the schedule, followed by a much-needed bye week. If the Redskins can head into a week of rest at 5-3, they will be set for an equally rough second half of the season. No one is going to give the Redskins anything this season, and if they don't start capitalizing on what they get, they aren't going to be more than a .500 team.