After a resounding loss to the arch-rival Dallas Cowboys last week, the sputtering Washington Redskins had an opportunity to rebound on the road Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers in a matchup where both teams were still mathematically in the hunt for a playoff spot.
However, the Redskins defensive unit must have had a severe case of jet lag, and they never posed a threat in a 30-13 drubbing by Los Angeles, dropping Washington to 5-8 on the season and officially ending any postseason hopes.
“It is disappointing and something that I didn’t expect to see two weeks in a row,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said about being blown out by the Cowboys and the Chargers in consecutive weeks. “I’m at a loss for words. We let our fans down, and we’re disappointed.”
Aside from a nine-play drive in the second quarter that ended with a 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis, quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Redskins couldn’t get much going offensively. The Chargers held Cousins to only 151 yards passing and rookie running back Samaje Perine to 45 yards on the ground while the Redskins allowed wide receivers Tyrell Williams and Keenan Allen to combine for 243 yards receiving and Melvin Gordon accounted for 78 yards rushing by game’s end in a dominant effort.
“I felt like I prepared the way that I always have, but for a variety of reasons, we didn’t get what we wanted,” Cousins said. “We never really found any rhythm. We didn’t have explosive plays and couldn’t convert on third downs.”
Inversely, the Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers took advantage of the Redskins secondary early and often, jumping out to a 13-0 first-quarter lead. After Davis’ touchdown cut the score to 13-6 (the PAT attempt failed), Rivers uncorked a 75-yard bomb to wide receiver Tyrell Williams as he streaked past Josh Norman for a touchdown and a 20-6 lead.
Los Angeles (7-6) effectively ended matters near the end of the third quarter on a flea-flicker when Rivers launched a 51-yard pass to Keenan Allen, who made a diving catch at Washington’s one-yard line. Running back Melvin Gordon punched it in on next play, putting the Chargers up 30-6.
Rivers came out of the game early in the fourth with his team comfortably ahead, finishing 18-of-31 for 319 yards and two touchdowns.
“I was with Philip for many years when I was in San Diego,” said Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. “Just from the knowledge of the game, he knows where has got to go with the ball. He is very effective getting the ball out of his hands, and from a pressure standpoint, he knows where the pressures are coming. Over that long period of time that he has been playing, he understands that, and he does a great job of it.”
Chargers backup quarterback Kellen Clemens replaced Rivers and threw a late fourth-quarter interception to Bashaud Breeland, who returned it for a largely inconsequential 96-yard touchdown.
The game was a tale of two teams going in different directions. After starting the season 0-4, Los Angeles has won four straight games and seven of its past nine, and is tied for the best record in the AFC West. Meanwhile, the Redskins have lost four of their past five, outscored by a combined 68-27 in the two most recent losses.
With little more than pride on the line, Washington will return home to face the Arizona Cardinals (6-7) on Dec. 17.