Yeah, Not So Special: Another Redskins Heartbreak

Washington Commanders

Is there anything worse for a Redskins fan, than losing to the Dallas Cowboys? How about betting online AND losing a game largely due to the play of the special teams units? Sure there were plenty of other things to point to in Sunday’s 31-16 loss to the Cowboys, but you can’t give up (ostensibly) 14 points on special teams, leave three on the board, and not notice that it’s 17 points in a 15-point loss.

Dwayne Harris took maximum advantage of a Redskins illegal motion penalty, and returned Sav Rocca’s second punt 86 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter. It was a big momentum shift with the Cowboys going up 14-3, when the Redskins had initially pinned the Cowboys deep in their own zone on the first punt.

To their credit, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins offense responded with a good two-minute drive. RGIII hit Jordan Reed for a 32-yard gain, and set up a Kai Forbath field goal to close the first half, down just 14-6.

The Redskins came out in the third quarter with another strong drive, highlighted by a 26-yard RGIII run, that had 15 yards tacked on when he was hit out of bounds. The Redskins failed to convert in the red zone though, and had to settle for another Forbath field goal; but they were at least within one score and in striking distance at 14-9.

It was short-lived, as special teams disaster struck again on the kickoff. This time Harris returned a kickoff from 5-yards deep in his own end zone all the way back to the Redskins 15-yard line. If you looked up the sports book odds of having two 80-plus yard returns in one game at at a respected online sports book such as, what do you think those odds would be? It might not count as a special teams score, but it only took the Cowboys two plays to convert the field position into a touchdown.

The Cowboys were now up 21-9 early in the third quarter, and the Redskins seemed to have had the wind sucked from their sails. On their next drive, the Redskins went nowhere.

Still, a good hold from the defense on the Cowboys next possession, sparked a ray of hope and gave the Redskins the ball with just over four minutes to go in the third. Then a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty to the Cowboys, set up a 45-yard touchdown run from an until then, quiet Alfred Morris, and Washington found themselves squarely back in the game. Down 21-16, but with over a quarter left to play.

The defense responded with another great stand, and forced the Cowboys into a three-and-out. The Redskins had the ball back again, and there were still three minutes to go in the third quarter. Cause for much guarded optimism at this point, for any sports betting fan of the burgundy and gold. Washington even started with good field position at their own 39-yard line.

It looked good when Griffin hit Leonard Hankerson for a 17-yard gain to put the Redskins in Cowboys territory at their 41-yard line. It looked even better when Morris ran for six, and then Griffin for five more to set up a first down on the Dallas 31-yard line. But the offense sputtered, and after incompletions on second and third down attempts, the Redskins were forced to try a field goal from 49 yards.

Cue the dramatic music…

Well actually don’t, because you know what happened. Forbath was wide left, the Redskins got nothing on the drive, and while a 49-yard kick is not a ‘gimme’, the Redskins had squandered a vital opportunity. Special teams dung had struck again.

The Cowboys responded in kind by marching down the field and putting up a Dan Bailey field goal to go up 24-16 with just over ten minutes to go.

Sure there was still time left, and sure the Redskins were technically only down by one score, but the fight appeared to have left the dog at that point. When Griffin was sacked and fumbled the ball on the 4-yard line on the ensuing drive, and the Cowboys quickly converted it into a touchdown, the game was over for good at 31-16. Disappointment from everywhere for Redskins fans, especially those who engaged in online football betting to place wagers on the team.

The offense didn’t have a great outing, but their 433 yards could have been enough to win. Especially when it was more than twice as much as the 213 yards that the Redskins defense held the Cowboys offense to – an offense that saw Tony Romo post over 500 yards just the week before.

Special teams are ultimately what cost the Redskins the game (and betting on sports cost ME some money).

To add insult to injury, or maybe in this instance injury to insult, the Redskins lost long snapper Nick Sundberg for the remainder of the season. The Redskins confirmed the news via their Twitter account:

The Redskins also lost linebacker Brian Kehl for the season to a torn ACL on one of the returns. He was the Redskins leading tackler on special teams. So a unit that is struggling lost two of it’s key parts, and first year coach Keith Burns is really going to have his hands full righting this ship.

Coming off a bye week, and their first victory of the season over the Oakland Raiders, the Redskins appeared to still be in decent shape in the NFC East, but the loss dropped the Redskins to 1-4 on the season. However, with the Cowboys and the Eagles leading the division at 3-3, Washington are still only two games back. It seems ridiculous to talk about with a 1-4 team, but the season is not lost yet.

They’re going to have to play a lot better football to win games though – especially on special teams.


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