Washington Redskins: 4 Players That Made the Biggest Contributions in Sunday's L
The Redskins haven't had a lot of things to feel good about this season, so the fact that they hung tough with what is arguably the league's model franchise and came within one questionable offensive pass interference call of sending the game into overtime has to give the players in Washington's locker room something to feel proud about.
Washington has now lost two games in a row and eight out of its last nine, but at least the team has looked competitive in its last several outings. A last-minute loss to New England is a lot easier to swallow than a 23-0 shellacking by the Buffalo Bills.
Here are four players that made the biggest contributions in Sunday's loss.
Rex Grossman is playing with house money. The Redskins will probably draft a franchise quarterback in the offseason, meaning his days as Washington's starter are numbered.
In that regard, he has nothing to lose and, knowing Rex, it's safe to bet that he will spend his last days as a starter firing away at will, always looking for the big play and consistently throwing caution to the wind.
Against New England that approach paid off. Grossman threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns, and his only interception, a ball that went off Santana Moss' fingertips on the game's last meaningful play, was not his fault.
With Grossman under center, the Redskins offense scored the same number of points, 27, as New England's offense.
However, Grossman once again put his team in a hole when he fumbled the ball in Washington's end zone early in the first quarter, and the Patriots' Vince Wilfork recovered it for a touchdown. That score would end up being the difference in the game.
So much of football, and so much of life for that matter, comes down to risk/reward propositions. Grossman's willingness to take risks, to hold the ball as long as possible and look downfield on almost every play, resulted in a lot of rewarding plays for his team on Sunday.
But on that particular play in the first quarter. his risk-averse style led to a turnover and a seven-point deficit to which the Redskins would eventually succumb.
The Redskins may not have a franchise quarterback, but it looks like they have a franchise running back.
For the third game in a row Roy Helu played solid football, gaining 126 yards on 27 carries. He is now averaging 4.7 yards per carry and is the only rookie in Redskins history to notch three consecutive 100-yard games.
It should be noted that fellow rookie running back Evan Royster played spectacularly in relief of Helu. Royster gained 44 yards on only six carries and showed impressive speed and agility.
The zone blocking scheme employed by Mke Shanahan favors quick, shifty running backs that can cut back and explode past the line of scrimmage.
Helu and Royster are these types of backs, and this is one position at which the Redskins do not need an upgrade.
DeAngelo Hall had one of his worst games of the season on Sunday.
Hall was matched against Wes Welker, who leads the league in receiving yards by a significant margin.
Hall held Welker to a single catch in the first half, but in the second half, Welker consistently burned Hall to finish with 86 yards and one touchdown.
Welker is the league's top receiver for a reason, so I can't blame Hall for failing to contain the diminutive player who is reshaping the paradigm of the prototypical wideout.
But in the third quarter, with the score tied at 20, Hall committed an inexcusable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that gave the Patriots 15 free yards.
It's reasonable to assume that the Patriots would have scored on that drive regardless of Hall's penalty, but those types of outbursts are all too typical for Hall and serve as a stark reminder that the headaches Hall's behavior causes far outweigh the benefits he provides on the field.
Bottom line: I don't expect Hall to be in a Redskins jersey next year.
Before Josh Wilson picked off Tom Brady in the end zone in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, Brady had completed a streak of over 100 passes without an interception.
Wilson ended that with his finger-tip pick with just under seven minutes left to play in regulation.
That play prevented the Patriots from kicking a field goal and gave the Redskins offense a chance to tie the game with a touchdown. Grossman & Co. failed to deliver, but all credit to Wilson for generating a turnover in the middle of crunch time.
The Redskins defense could have used more clutch plays like that one.