Washington’s playoff hopes were drastically deflated on the Monday Night Football stage as the Carolina Panthers defeated Washington’s NFL team, 26-15, on Dec. 19 in Landover, Md. With the loss, Washington now needs help to make it to the playoffs.

Washington (7-6-1) started out flat against Carolina — the reigning NFC champions — and ultimately lost their must-win game at home. Although Carolina (6-8) already missed the playoffs, quarterback Cam Newton showed up to play in his first matchup against former teammate Josh Norman.

Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) and free safety Will Blackmon (41) break up a pass intended for Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn (19) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In the first quarter, Carolina kicker Graham Gano and Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins both made field goals to tie the game at 3-3. Carolina retook the lead, 10-3, at the bottom of the first when wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. was left wide open for a 30-yard touchdown.  

After quarterback Kirk Cousins threw an interception, Washington’s defense was able to hold Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and company to a field goal, extending the lead to 13-3. Washington running back Rob Kelley scored a 5-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter, but Hopkins missed the extra point, and Washington trailed 13-9 at halftime.  

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) turns out of the pocket during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Landover, Md., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington’s mistakes continued in the second half, as tight end Vernon Davis was pushed into Cousins, who in turn fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line. Two plays after the Panthers recovered the fumble, Newton found fullback Mike Tolbert in the end zone for a 20-9 lead.

With 26 seconds left in the third quarter, Washington tight end Jordan Reed was ejected for throwing a punch at Carolina safety Kurt Coleman. A visibly frustrated Reed finished with only one catch for 6 yards while playing through a shoulder injury.

Reed’s penalty pushed back an already struggling Washington offense, and the team was forced to settle for a 26-yard field goal to cut the lead to 23-12. After Carolina’s Gano missed a 38-yard field goal attempt of his own, Hopkins made a 34-yarder to move Washington within 23-15 late in the fourth quarter.

However, with the help of running back Jonathan Stewart’s 34-yard run into Washington territory, Carolina scored a 40-yard field goal to make it a two-possession game in the final minute.

Reigning MVP Newton finished with 300 yards and two touchdowns, while Stewart led all player with 25 carries for 132 yards.

Cousins completed 32-of-47 for 315 yards and one interception. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson had a team-high seven receptions for 111 yards. Washington lost linebacker Ryan Kerrigan to a left elbow injury. They were already without linebackers Will Compton and Su’a Cravens due to injury.

Next, Washington’s NFL team will face the Chicago Bears on Christmas Eve in Chicago.

Breana Pitts

Special to the AFRO