After a 10-year drought, the Redskins were hoping Sunday would be the day it ended and that they brought a playoff win to Washington. Instead, they once again went home empty-handed and will have to wait at least one more year to break the losing streak.
The Redskins headed into the Wild Card weekend optimistic. After a dismal 3-5 season start, they managed to win six out of their last eight games, including a four-game winning streak. Their 9-7 record was enough for a division title and their first playoff berth since 2012.
They also had the odds in their favor. They had ended the season with four consecutive wins while their opponent, the Green Bay Packers, had lost their last two regular season games by a combined 37 points. But the Packers were a more seasoned playoff team, having narrowly lost in the NFC title game last year. In the end, experience trumped excitement.
After both teams went three and out to start the game, Washington scored with a safety on Aaron Rodgers. Quarterback Kirk Cousins then led his team down the field, but when a DeSean Jackson touchdown was reversed, because he wasn’t in bounds, they were unable to punch it in at the 1/2 yard line and were held to a field goal.
The Redskins were able to score again at the end of the quarter, though the extra point on Cousins’ 24-yard TD pass to Jordan Reed was no good. Though they led 11-0 after one quarter, the missed opportunities were starting to mount.
“I mean, it’s a little sick feeling anytime you lose a game at the end of the year, no matter when it is,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “The opportunities we had out there today, it makes you ill.”
The Packers responded with a touchdown of their own to cut into Washington’s lead. Cousins was sacked and fumbled on their next possession, setting up a Green Bay field goal and cutting the deficit to just one. Rodgers threw another TD before the break to take the lead 17-11.
Washington had seemed invincible after one quarter; by the half they were deflated. Cousins, who finished 29-of-46 for 329 yards and one touchdown, started the second half with a touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback. Green Bay went on to score 18 answered points for a 35-18 victory which, eliminated the Redskins from playoff contention. It was a disappointing end for a season–and game–that seemed to birth so much promise.
“There’s no point in that game that I didn’t feel like we had a chance to win it,” veteran DeAngelo Hall said afterwards. “So to walk off that field with a loss is tough. The group of guys in this locker room overcame a lot. We overcame injuries. We overcame a lot of bad situations. I’m proud of these guys, proud to be a part of what we did this season. It just sucks that it’s over.”
While the Redskins will head into the off-season with many decisions to make, including whether or not to resign Cousins, who is set to become a free agent, the Packers move on to face the No. 2 seeded Cardinals next week.
The Steelers, Seahawks, and Chiefs also all survived the Wild Card weekend and are set to face the other top seeded teams in next weekend’s divisional round.
Robert Griffin III
Though Kirk Cousin’s status with the Redskins isn’t set in stone, it’s almost certain he will suit up for Washington next season. Almost as certain is Robert Griffin III’s departure. Griffin, who was drafted No. 2 by the Redskins in 2012, didn’t play a snap all season and was inactive for Sunday’s game.
As he walked off the grass at FedEx Field on Sunday, cameras captured RGIII giving hugs to crew and staff members in an obvious gesture of goodbye. When team members arrived at FedEx on Monday morning to clean out their lockers, Griffin declined to speak to reporters, instead leaving behind an inspirational letter he had put up earlier in the season.
Instead of taking it with him, he left it there in plain view, under a framed bible verse. The letter was based on the “Paradoxical Commandments” and included all the things you should do, or ways you should act, despite the chance of some less than favorably outcomes. One line read: “If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.”
While some media outlets reported it as a passive aggressive or ominous response from a scorned player, many felt it was an inspirational goodbye from a humbled player who hopes to get a fresh start somewhere else.
“The difference with Robert was he had every eye, every camera on him when he’s going through that process, and that’s tough,” teammate Kedric Golston said. “You get in a situation where you can do no right, no matter what you do. That’s tough. This league will do that to everybody. It will humble you.”