Chalk it up to injuries, questionable play calling, quarterback changes or just plain old dumb luck, but the Redskins resembled every bit of under-performing squad that has plagued the franchise for the better part of a decade on Sunday as they fell to the Carolina Panthers 33-20.
The jury is still out on John Beck who started his first NFL game in four years. Although Beck tossed three fewer interceptions than Rex Grossman last week, he showed there was plenty of rust and jitters that needed to be knocked off.
He was nearly intercepted a host of other times as he tried to force the ball to well-covered receivers. Other times he threw the ball behind his intended targets.
Then there was the blatant intentional grounding penalty in the first half.
On the plus side he did run the ball in for the second time in as many weeks.
Still, there are some who will say the deck was stacked against Beck entering the game. Not only was he taking over a lethargic offense mid-season, but he was doing so with a patchwork offensive line.
The replacements along the left side of the line did their part, however. The Panthers were limited to just two sacks on Beck. Jammal Brown was beaten badly on one of them as Panthers linebacker Antwan Applewhite stripped Beck of the ball and forced the turnover.
Bigger than Beck’s debut were the injuries that are now piling up for the Redskins.
The team lost starters Kory Lichtensteiger, Trent Williams and Chris Cooley last week. This week it was Santana Moss Tim Hightower’s turn.
Moss suffered a broken left hand in the first half. He went to the locker room to have it examined further and returned to the sideline where the training staff fitted him with a make shift club of sorts.
He will not play next week according to head coach Mike Shanahan.
Hightower’s injury appeared more ominous. The starting running back had his knee buckle as he tried to cut up field. He immediately grabbed the knee and writhed in pain. Trainers assisted him off the field. He was carted off the sideline a few minutes later as teammates offered words of encouragement.
Hightower was on the verge of a 100-yard game before the injury. He finished the day with 88 yards on 17 carries.
He was on crutches in the locker room following the game. He did tell reporters the x-rays taken on the knee were negative.
Hightower is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday.
Veteran linebacker London Fletcher also sustained a hamstring injury and will be reevaluated as the week goes on.
Ironically, Beck may have made his debut on Sunday regardless of how last week played out. Rex Grossman remained in the locker room and was receiving IV fluids to treat a 103-degree fever and pneumonia.
Shanahan maintained he would have been ready to play if need be.
The coach said Terrence Austin would likely have been used in an emergency situation on Sunday.
Dominating Defense Dominated
The Redskins defense surrendered 33 points and 407 yards to the Panthers on Sunday.
Without OJ Atogwe, Steve Smith torched the Washington secondary for 143 yards.
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