Here's five takeaways from the Washington Redskins' Week 14 game against the Los Angeles Chargers that took place at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif.
1. On an afternoon in which the Redskins got behind early, the Redskins struggled in nearly every facet.
It simply wasn't the Redskins day on Sunday against the Chargers, as Washington could not keep pace with Los Angeles on both sides of the ball in a 30-13 loss at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
While the Chargers were able to put points on the board on their first four drives of the game, the Redskins countered with just one touchdown of their own during that span. Then after a turnover of downs on the drive following Washington's lone offensive touchdown, Trent Williams and Co. struggled to move the ball, as Tress Way punted on seven consecutive drives that couldn't get into Los Angeles territory.
"It's tough to stomach when you're a competitor and want to win the championship and go to the playoffs," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden of a loss that officially eliminated the Redskins from playoff contention. "You want the best for your players and the best for your team and the best for your city. Right now, we've let our fans down and players are disappointed, we're disappointed. We still have three games to go and we will fight and claw our way back to try to get to 8-8, try to get to 6-8 first, then 7-8 and then 8-8."
The first quarter was particularly troublesome for the Redskins, as the Chargers had more than double the points (13) that Washington had offensive plays (six). Getting down early like that was simply too big of a hole to climb out of on this day.
"I mean, it's tough, just going out there, putting bad stuff on film like that," said wide receiver Jamison Crowder. "But, you've just got to keep going. We've got three more games left and just got to finish out strong."
2. The Redskins only had momentum on their side for a few seconds.
While the Redskins had to bend to the Chargers' will in the first quarter, it appeared the team was ready to fight back from adversity early in the second frame.
On a nine-play, 77-yard scoring drive, quarterback Kirk Cousins twice used his legs to keep the drive going, first hitting Niles Paul for a 16-yard gain on a 4th-and-2 attempt before rolling out once again to hit Vernon Davis for a 23-yard touchdown.
But the momentum was short lived, as first Nick Rose missed the extra point before the Chargers pushed their lead back to double-digits off a 75-yard bomb to Tyrell Williams on Los Angeles' first play after Washington's touchdown.
"That's been the story right now. As soon as we make a big play and they answer in a bigger play and we can't get the momentum back," Gruden said. "This game is about momentum and we had it for about four seconds and then we missed the extra point and they threw a bomb for a big play. Unfortunately, this game is about momentum swings and we just had it for about 30 seconds."
3. Despite painful injuries for both, tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses gutted out impressive performances.
It was a conversation between Washington's Pro Bowl tackle and head coach that has become common over the last few weeks.
Check out these images from the Washington Redskins' offense during the 2017 Week 14 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 10, 2017, at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA.
"Coach, he asked me could I go, and I told him if he needed me, I'd push through whatever," Williams said. "Obviously, they've got two good pass rushers, so he wanted me to help neutralize them. It's whatever, I strapped up."
Entering Sunday's game, both Williams (knee) and Morgan Moses (ankle) were questionable as they have been dealing with injuries that have sidelined them for periods. Williams, of course, has been in and out of the lineup with an injury that dates back to training camp while Moses' status looked bleak after he was carted off in the second quarter of the Redskins' Week 13 game against the Dallas Cowboys.
But both were in the lineup, as Williams played but all of four offensive snaps while Moses battled through the duration of the contest.
Together, they helped slow the potent pass rush duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to a combined half-sack.
While it is unclear whether or not Williams will continue to suit up over the final three weeks of the season, he made it clear that the team still has plenty to play for.
"No matter what you think, if…the playoffs are out of reach or whatever, we're all being judged at the end of the day," Williams said. "They're going to take a closer look at everybody and what everybody puts on film towards the end of the year. There's no reason to think that mediocre play is OK, because when they go into the offseason to make a decision, this part of the year has a lot to do with it."
4. While he played fewer defensive snaps on Sunday, Bashaud Breeland capped off his afternoon with a 96-yard interception return for touchdown.
As he has all year when healthy, Breeland got the start at cornerback opposite Josh Norman. However, early in the game the Clemson product's role changed based on a coach's decision.
Check out these images from the Washington Redskins' defense and special teams during the 2017 Week 14 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 10, 2017, at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA.
Instead of playing outside corner, Breeland was placed into a rotational role with Quinton Dunbar receiving a brunt of the work alongside Norman.
"He kind of got a little flow going in," Breeland said of Dunbar. "They let him stay in and I got in in the last little bit."
Late in the game, though, Breeland was able to log his first career interception returned for touchdown, as he picked off Chargers quarterback Kellen Clemmons and returned the ball 96 yards to the house.
On a third down throw from Clemmons, safety D.J. Swearinger brought pressure off the left side in a hurry, forcing the quarterback to let go of the ball early than anticipated.
Breeland was right there to take advantage of a ball thrown behind Chargers receiver Mike Williams.
"It was kind of a freak play," Breeland said. "I'm going against Mike Williams, one of my college teammates. He ran a slant. I kind of opened up for the fade and he ran a slant anyway. The quarterback kind of put it behind him, and he tipped the ball and it fell in my lap. It was an easy play for me to make."
5. The Redskins must have a better response over the final three weeks, starting with Sunday's game against the Cardinals.
While Washington has officially been eliminated from playoff contention, it still has an opportunity to finish the season on a better note.
But after two tough losses in a row, the Redskins have to produce better on the field if they want any chance of finishing the year at 8-8.
"You know, we've got to finish strong," said cornerback Josh Norman. "Three more games to go, so we'll try to get 8-8. That's all you can do. That's all you can do. It's tough. Tough. Never been in this position. I didn't foresee it happening, and it has. We've just got to finish strong."
Davis added that the Redskins can't let a negative mindset steer the team away from getting eight wins on the season now.
"Go out there and have fun, be loose and play football," Davis said. "Play football, it's all fun. Look, we know what we've done as far as not being able to get into the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl. We just have to have fun. We just have to enjoy the moment, because if you think about just life in general, this is a great opportunity for us to be able to play professional football. When you think that way, you're very, very positive and you're thankful for the opportunity that you have, then mentally that allows you to go out there and just play football."