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Redskins Lose Their Way In St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS – Meet the Odd Couple.

Yeah, the Redskins offense and the Redskins defense.

One can't stay on the field. One can't get off the field.

One can't assemble or finish a drive, the other can't stop one.

Felix and Oscar took their act on the road and it bombed. The St. Louis Rams, who had lost 14 consecutive games in a row at home, handed the Redskins a most embarrassing beating. Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford picked up his first professional victory, facing little pressure and coverage schemes a toddler could read.

Rams 30, Redskins 16.

Felix and Oscar. Toss in the special teams and it becomes Moe, Larry and Curly.

Before this debacle began, Redskins punter Josh Bidwell injured himself during warmups, throwing into disarray a part of the special teams already a bit short of its elite marksmen's badge.

Bidwell's absence forced kicker Graham Gano to double as the punter (does this sound at all like last year?) and tight end Chris Cooley to warm up as the possible holder.

Hardly harbingers of great things to come, eh?

The Redskins continued to turn special teams into science fiction. Their offense can't convert a third down and their defense never met a third-down play it could stop. Imagine falling to a team that last won at home in 2008.

That should only be the province of a dirty mind, but this one had the look of the loss to the Detroit Lions 364 days ago. You remember that one, with the rookie quarterback who had been the overall No. 1 pick, no victories to show for it yet, moribund franchise. Waiting for that one brief, shining moment.

Thank the Redskins for spreading the joy.

Rams 30, Redskins 16. Let that sink in for a moment. The Rams, beaten 44 times in their previous 50 games. The Rams. Even after losing Steven Jackson to a groin injury, the Rams ground it out and picked away, squandered a lead and then rebuilt it.

The Redskins opened the game with Graham Gano bouncing the kickoff out of bounds, putting the Rams at their own 40-yard line. Seven plays later they had crossed the Redskins' goal line, the last 42 yards (thought it seemed like 70) covered by Steven Jackson in a right-to-left sprint.

Free safety Kareem Moore, who had missed the first two games, missed the first tackle as well. Jackson broke another and the rest of the defenders had by then overpursued and had no angle to corral Jackson.

The Rams got the ball three plays later, when a big hit on Santana Moss caused the ball to burp free and into the arms of safety James Butler, who returned it 46 yards to the Redskins 3. Bradford passed three yards to tight end Daniel Fells, a third-stringer subbing due to numerous injuries, for a 14-0 lead.

Life could have become even more treacherous for the Redskins after the Rams blocked Gano's first punt try. Moore intercepted on the next play, ruining the chance for the Rams to score in one quarter more points than they'd managed in either of their previous games.

The Redskins (1-2) finally sent some juice to the scoreboard with Gano's 29-yard field goal. They made it 14-10 after Lorenzo Alexander recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, setting up Donovan McNabb's 21-yard touchdown pass to Moss.

Then it was back to blackouts in the red zone. Despite a 36-yard run by Ryan Torain, activated from the practice squad this week, and a 26-yard gallop by McNabb, the Redskins wound up stalling at the Rams 6 and kicking yet another field goal.

The 14-13 score held up when Phillip Daniels, looking lighter on his feet than a prima ballerina, skipped between two linemen and blocked a 21-yard field goal try with 25 seconds remaining in the first half.

Maybe the Redskins took some kind of weird pleasure in watching the injured Bidwell squat and hold for kicks. Once again, at the outset of the third quarter, they drove to the Rams 2 and again failed to get in. Gano kicked a 21-yard field goal and the Redskins, at 16-14, had their first lead of the day.

Seeing any disturbing patterns? Want to see more?

When the Rams (1-2) went ahead 21-16 midway through the third quarter, they did it by converting a pair of third downs to extend a 12-play drive.

The Redskins defense becomes its own enemy when it doesn't get off the field. On that drive, the Redskins had the Rams in a second and 15 that became a third and 10 and they allowed them to convert. When they got a stop on a third down, they succumbed on fourth down.

Nor did the Redskins stretch their own drives. Once in 10 tries did they successfully turn a third down into a first down.

The defense? Yikes. On the drive on which the Rams took the lead, they used 12 plays to do it. When Josh Brown kicked his 30-yard field goal for a 24-16 lead, the Rams ran 11 plays to set him up.

The Redskins held the football for 25 minutes, 10 seconds. The Rams owned it for 34:50.

The Redskins defenders will need lint rollers to get the turf off their tongues.

And to scrub the bitter taste of failure from their mouths.


Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for Redskins.com and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at Redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.

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