By Moe Murphy
Special to Viva Loudoun
LANDOVER, MD- The end of 2016 was full of hope and expectations for the Washington Redskins. The team controlled their own destiny once again, win and with the exception of a rare tie between Green Bay and Detroit the team was in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
The new year did not start off good to the Washington faithful, with everything including the season on the line, the Redskins turned in a lackluster performance and fell to the rival New York Giants 19-10 to end their 2016 season on an unseasonably mild day before 79,471 fans at FedEx Field.
“We beat them up there in their house early in the season and they beat us in our house, when it counted.” A dejected Ricky Jean Francois said sitting in his locker, “It hurts so bad to know that we had the team to go out there and do everything. We put our self back in position, we didn’t need any help and we just let the ball fall.”
Trailing the entire game Washington (8-7-1) gave the crowd hope when they tied the game at 10 on a one yard Kirk Cousins to Jordan Reed touchdown pass with 8:17 to go in the game. Six minutes later New York (11-5) capped an 8 play 58-yard drive with a 40 yard Robbie Gould field goal to regain the lead for good.
With two minutes remaining, Cousins (22 of 35 for 287 yards) completed 4 consecutive passes to move the Redskins to the Giants 43-yard line before forcing a throw that was intercepted by Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, (his second interception of the game) that ended the Redskins chance for a second consecutive playoff appearance.
“He [Pierre Garçon] did a good job on his route. The timing of the play was off so I climbed a little to my left and Pierre still was winning and thought I was a little bit late. “Cousins said, “It felt like across the field he had a chance, but I didn’t get my shoulder closed enough to where I could make that throw accurately, and so the ball was behind him and the corner made a nice play.”
The Redskins could never get their running game on tract against the tough Giant defense rushing for only 38 yards on 15 carries, the team’s second lowest rushing output of the season.
“They’re a good run defense first of all. Got to give the Giants credit, Coach [Ben] McAdoo.” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “We knew they’d have their team ready to play, and we just didn’t get enough good run lanes for our backs. Other than that, I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if we just got beat up front, man-handled, or we just mistargeted or what. I’ve got to check out the film, but it wasn’t pretty in the running game.”
The Giants were able to mix up their offense gaining 161 yards rushing and 180 passing taking a 10-0 lead into the half.
Washington’s defense kept the team within distance, but were unable stop the Giants after the comeback that tied the game in the fourth quarter.
“It just felt like we didn’t make enough plays and that was throughout the whole course of the game.” Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said, “We allowed 13 points defensively, but we didn’t make any splash plays. We didn’t put our offense in a good field position very much throughout the game and that was a big difference tonight.”
The Giants got a meaningless score on the last play of the game, as an errant flea flicker from Jordan Reed was picked up by Trevin Wade who went untouched for an 11-yard fumble recovery.
Many questions are left to be answered after the team’s season ending loss. The big question is the status of Cousins. The franchise player had a record breaking year passing, but still failed in guiding the team into the post season and has not signed a deal as of yet and will enter next season as a free agent.
“I don’t know what Kirk [Cousins] has to do as a quarterback to prove that he belongs in the National Football League as a starter. I think he had a great year.” Gruden said, “Overall, I think the amount of times he dropped back to pass and made some unbelievable throws in some great games, I think he belongs in the NFL as a starting quarterback, that’s for sure, and hopefully it’s here.”
Another pending issue is the return of veteran receivers Pierre Garcon, Vernon Davis and DeSean Jackson.
“I’ll definitely play, I’m not ready to hang it up yet.” Davis said, “I still have a lot left, I’m loving the game, I’m enjoying myself and having fun, so I have to continue to take it one year at a time.”
Garcon made no doubt that he would like to return with the team, talking about improvements and working again with Cousins. “I definitely want to play here.” Garcon said, “But you know it’s January and its football. It’s not the X’s and O’s, it’s the business side of it, and I have no control over it.”
Over the last several weeks’ rumors have been circulating about Jackson not returning to the team and possibly rejoining his old squad the Philadelphia Eagles. Jackson declined to speak with the media after the game.
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