This time however, the Redskins bid at a comeback fell short as they lost a tough one to the Indianapolis Colts 27-24.
As in previous games this season, the Redskins were outplayed by a team for nearly the entire contest, but somehow still found themselves with the ball and three time-outs late in the fourth quarter, needing only a field goal to head to overtime for the third time in six games.
The defense, rising to the occasion in the second half, forced the Colts to punt after three plays, leaving Donovan McNabb and the Redskins offense with more than two minutes to drive 62 yards to take the lead. Yet McNabb overthrew Anthony Armstrong downfield on fourth and ten as the Colts escaped Fedex Field with a win on prime time television.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan was unhappy with his team's inability to pull out what could have a been a key statement victory against one the best regular season teams in NFL history. "Anytime you get an opportunity to put the game away and you get the ball on the last drive of the game you want to be able to capitalize on that and we just couldn't get it done," Shanahan said after the game.
The Redskins had countless opportunities to make the Colts pay for several uncharacteristic mistakes by Peyton Manning. They dropped four potential interceptions and Manning made sure to make up for the errors with a solid performance. He was 25-38 for 307 yards and two touchdowns.
The Redskins recovered three fumbles in the second half against the Colts, but dropped interceptions by Carlos Rogers and Kareem Moore were costly.
Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was disappointed the defense wasn't able to take full advantage of Manning's ill-advised throws. "We had several opportunities in that football game," he said in the locker room following the loss. "I think we dropped about four interceptions. Those are game-changing type plays and you steal possessions. I think they ended up with about 10 or 13 points out of those opportunities [where] we dropped interceptions. You can't keep giving a good offense like the Colts that many possessions."
Indy made the most of their second chances. Colts wideout Pierre Garcon had a tremendous performance, catching a 57-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring in the first quarter. For the game, he pulled in four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Garcon and Manning were supplemented by a 128 yard rushing effort by Joseph Addai who scored a key touchdown in the third quarter after the Redskins had cut the Colts' lead to 17-14 on Ryan Torain's second rushing touchdown.
After Torain's touchdown, Addai gashed the defense for a 46-yard dash, and then a 13-yard TD to make it 24-14 in the third quarter. The Colts ran the ball for 170 yards against a defense set on stopping Manning.
"They were essentially in a dime defense the entire game," said Manning. "It looked like they were playing a lot of pass coverage; and they are great pass rushers. You have to be able to be balanced; you can't just throw it every single time. We did a good job in the running game and we made some huge runs when we had to have them."
Torain, making just his third career NFL start, was the lone bright spot of the first half with 68 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, but the Redskins trailed 17-7 at the break. McNabb threw an interception on the Redskins first offensive possession, and had a QB rating of 45.9 going into the locker room. He failed to find a wide open Armstrong breaking away from defenders in the second quarter and missed several routine throws.
When he did manage to lead Washington down the field late in the half, Graham Gano pushed a 48-yard field goal wide right.
The Redskins defense surrendered nearly 300 yards of offense in the first half, but held the Colts 175 in the second half, making the necessary changes to contain Manning and the Colts. We made a lot of adjustments that allowed us to get the offense more playing time on the field, but you know at the same time we did give up some touchdown drives, some field goals to them that we could have prevented with an interception or something like that," said CB Byron Westbrook.
In the second half the Redskins offense was given a short field several times and scored ten points off turnovers. However, they were unable to put together any long drives until late in the game when McNabb capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive with an eight-yard TD pass to RB Keiland Williams to make it 27-24. That was as close as Washington would get.
"We left a bunch of plays out there, but it's a long football game," said Brian Orakpo. "We are going to look at this film, see what we did wrong and go from there."
Notes: McNabb passed Troy Aikman for sole possession of 14th place on the NFL's all-time completions list with 2,926. He also moved past Steve DeBerg to claim 18th place on the NFL's all-time passing list with 34,434 yards.
Tight end Chris Cooley left the game in the second half with a concussion. His status will likely be updated tomorrow.