Drew Brees is Lloyd Christmas. Down two scores, with less than three minutes to go and win probability of 1.1%, the New Orleans quarterback likely looked at his teammates in the huddle and said, "so you're telling me there's a chance?" In a season that has been a cornucopia of boot to the midsection losses, Sunday's 34-31 overtime defeat to the Saints was particularly dumb and dumber. Washington not only lost for the fourth time in five weeks, but they reduced their chances of earning a Wild Card to near flatline-levels.
The Skins also managed to add injury to insult, as the IR list continues to grow at an exponential rate. It is comical how many breaks and bounces have gone against Washington at every turn this season. Who and what contributed to this particular loss, exactly? I'm glad you asked! Welcome to the tenth of sixteen #SundaySlices recaps, where we cut up the game to assign fame and blame, based on the outcome, into delicious pie chart form. Try not to make a mess.
(These are the players/coaches/etc. who are not in the pie, because they did not contribute to the loss)
-Samaje Perine. The rookie had the best game of his young career, averaging over five yards per carry and helping the Skins keep the Saints offense off the field. He should get plenty of touches down the stretch with the Walking Dead health of the running backs on the roster.
-The Wide Receivers. Josh Doctson had a career-high in yards and another Randy Moss 2.0 highlight reel reception (though he didn't have a catch after the first half), Jamison Crowder bounced back from a shoddy week 10 performance and caught seven of his eight targets and Ryan Grant scored the easiest touchdown of all-time for a receiver. Maurice Harris didn't receive a target, but the unit played well.
-Jay Gruden. I am not here for Gruden slander in any way, shape or form. He has done a tremendous job this season, despite being dealt a 2-7 off-suit poker hand of injuries. The fake punt call was brilliant. The offense scored a season-high 31 points. The players clearly have responded to what he's selling and the Skins are fortunate to have him.
-Kirk Cousins. The Captain did everything he possibly could to give Washington the win and had probably his best performance of the season. After some reluctance to take deep shots earlier in the year, Cousins has begun to air it out to his receivers and the results have been outstanding. His touchdown to Grant was as tough as it gets for a QB, knowing that they have to endure an unblocked defender destroying them in the pocket. His fourth down throw to Davis down the sideline in the second quarter was an absolute dime. Kirk has taken his lumps in this column and by my twitter fingers during much of the season, but he was everything you want your franchise signal caller to be on Sunday.
Washington committed a season-high nine penalties on Sunday, with two in the first half being of the back-breaking variety. Preston Smith's roughing the passer penalty on a third down combined with Stacy Mcgee's false start on a FG attempt (why is he playing special teams?) accounted for a 10-point swing. f course, not every penalty was the fault of the Skins, and a slice definitely needs to be carved for...
The Skins will get a letter addressed to Ashburnistan later this week that basically says "our bad." The "intentional grounding" penalty at the end of the fourth quarter was in fact incorrectly called and the loss of down + 10-second clock runoff that followed were pretty damn harmful. It's not the sole reason Washington lost and there was still the matter of connecting on what would've been around a 50-yard field goal try, but still, the guys in the stripes railroaded the burgundy and gold.
How improbable was the Saints’ comeback vs. the Redskins on Sunday? Per Elias, the Saints’ all-time record in previous games in which they trailed by 14 points or more in the fourth quarter: 0-233-1.— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) November 20, 2017
Maybe it's the insecure, meddling owner. Maybe it's the proximity curse of being a Washington, D.C. sports team. Maybe it's the team's nickname. Maybe it's the sports gods balancing the scales from the domination of three rings in eight years from times passed. Maybe I'm still in shock, and don't know how to blame a team that scored 30+ in back-to-back weeks and lost both times. I don't have the answers, but one thing I do know is this franchise did something very wrong in a past life to be handed these type of Ls.
The Defense: 85%
If your name is not Bashaud Breeland, you probably had a horrible game Sunday.
Washington's defense has now allowed 33 points or in four of the last five weeks, losing all four. The unit has somehow managed to be a liability in the pass game while also being dreadful against the run.
Zach Brown has had a very good season, but his deficiencies in pass coverage have been outright exposed the last two weeks.
The line got some push from Anthony Lanier in pass rush, but like Case Keenum last week, the pocket was mostly clean for Drew Brees.
Preston Smith contributed a little bit of pressure, but also had that devastating roughing the passer penalty.
Kerrigan got one flex sack dance, but was low key for most of the contest.
Junior Galette continues to be an ugly contestant at a beauty pageant and never get his name called.
Matrell Spaight was okay, but like Brown, got cooked for big gains in the pass game between the hashes.
Swearinger was fine and had a fantastic interception.
Did Josh Norman play?
Then there's Deangelo Hall. The former Hokie gobbled up too much playing time in this one and the results were not encouraging. He was absolutely dreadful attempting to replace the injured Montae Nicholson at safety. It's not his fault that Father Time sent him outside to get a switch, it's the organization's miscalculation of what he could still bring to the field.
It's tough to blame coordinator, Greg Manusky, as he has been dealing with constant attrition in the personnel department. But, the offense is simply operating at too high of a level right now to constantly let teams back into games with breakdowns in coverage occurring at the worst moments. Until that changes, the teams' outcomes will be more Harry and Lloyd dumb than brilliant.
#SundaySlices will return following Thursday's matchup with the hapless New York Giants. If you have any slice suggestions, send them to @slimceeVA on Twitter.