An inability to convert on third-down plays and an overall breakdown in all facets of football led to a crucial 26-15 home loss Monday night to the Carolina Panthers for the Washington Redskins, crippling the team’s bid for a second straight postseason.
Washington only converted twice on third down in 12 opportunities, a microcosm of a game in which nothing worked right, said head coach Jay Gruden.
“We had no rhythm throughout the game,” Gruden said. “They just played better than we did.”
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for a largely inconsequential 315 yards and an interception. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson caught seven passes for 111 yards.
The running game was virtually nonexistent as three runners combined for just 29 yards, though Robert Kelley scored Washington’s lone touchdown on a one-yard plunge in the second quarter.
Defensively, Washington allowed 438 yards, as Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns. Also, running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 132 yards on 25 carries.
Special teams for the Redskins faltered as well. Kicker Dustin Hopkins missed an extra point and wide receiver Jamison Crowder muffed a kickoff deep in Redskins territory that quickly led to a Panthers touchdown early in the third quarter.
Washington has a short week before traveling to Chicago Saturday to play the Bears. The Redskins need wins in Chicago and at home against the New York Giants on New Year’s Day for any realistic chance at a playoff berth.