One week after stealing a win from the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins had one stolen from them.

The Redskins opened up a 20-7 halftime lead over the Houston Texans only to fall short in overtime, 30-27, on Sept 19. Washington had chances to put the game in the win column, but couldn’t pull it out. The AFRO examines the reasons.

First Down: Portis the Tortoise
Clinton Portis has been more than efficient during his tenure as a Washington Redskin. In his best years, he offered a blend of power, speed and toughness as the team’s featured back. Those days however, appear to be long gone for the 29-year-old. Portis looks two steps slower than he once was. Portis may need another running back to help carry the football at this stage in his career, but there isn’t another man on the roster capable—reserve runner Larry Johnson is not the answer. Washington may have no choice but to play out the season with both veterans, but a high draft pick or premiere free agent running back will definitely be in the District next season.

Second Down: Small Ball comes up short in Red Zone
Washington’s struggles in the red zone can be attributed to the offensive line, the play-calling and the player’s adjustment to a new system under new coach Mike Shanahan. But the absence of a downfield receiver is apparent and will continue to plague the team for the remainder of the year unless a trade is reached with another club. Rumors have suggested that disgruntled San Diego Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson, who measures 6-foot-5 inches tall, could be en route to the Burgundy and Gold, but until then the Redskins are left with the diminutive Santana Moss as their best deep threat. McNabb threw a strike over the top of the defense on Washington’s first drive in overtime that Moss couldn’t get to. But the pass was positioned well enough for any athletic six-footer to grab. A bigger wideout can help tremendously on those plays.

Third Down: Suspect Secondary
The Redskins defense received credit in last week’s 13-7 win over the Cowboys, but hidden behind the accolades was a secondary that let Cowboys receiver Miles Austin pile up the yards. Against the high-powered Texans, quarterback Matt Schaub and receiver Andre Johnson shredded Washington’s pass defense. Schaub exploded for 497 passing yards while Johnson hauled in 12 passes for 158 yards, including a 34-yard leaping grab that tied the game late in regulation at 27-27. Schaub and Johnson are certified Pro Bowlers but allowing close to 500 passing yards is still inexcusable. Houston ran a series of roll-out plays that cleared Schaub from the heat of Redskin rusher Brian Orakpo and allowed him time to thread the needle downfield. Expect Washington’s opponents to look at this game as a blueprint of how to beat them. The team’s linebackers and defensive line totaled five sacks, but the secondary let the team down against Houston.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO