Redskins coach Mike Shanahan made a surprise move Sunday, benching former Ravens backup John Beck and returning to Rex Grossman as the team's starting quarterback in an attempt to spark his struggling offense and end a four-game losing streak.
It didn't do the trick.
Washington managed to move the ball a little better but still could not score touchdowns and fell, 20-9, to the Dolphins, giving Shanahan the first five-game losing streak of his coaching career and the Redskins their first such streak since 2001.
"It's the same thing each and every week," wide receiver Jabar Gaffney lamented. "That's what's really like frustrating. We work on it, think we have it controlled and figured out. Then we come back out and we still have the same problems."
Grossman, who was benched in Week 6 after a four-interception performance against the Philadelphia Eagles but split first-team snaps with Beck in practice this week, threw two more interceptions to a Miami defense that entered the game with only two picks all year. He completed 21 of 32 passes for 215 yards, and the Redskins managed only 225 total yards on offense.
The Dolphins picked up their second consecutive win for the first time since the beginning of the 2010 season. Paced by two rushing touchdowns from Reggie Bush, Miami topped Washington in every statistical category and improved to 2-7. The Dolphins became the fourth one-win team to defeat the Redskins this season.
Washington fell to 3-6 on the season after managing only 61 rushing yards.
With three offensive starters already out for the season, the Redskins started Sunday's game without starting right tackle Jammal Brown and wideout Niles Paul in addition to receiver Santana Moss. "You go with more of an experienced guy that has dealt with these situations," Shanahan said in explaining his switch to Grossman. "I didn't want to put John in a situation where we had a number of guys down, and with his experience, especially over the last two weeks, I didn't think that was the right thing to do."
One of the topics of discussion among the Redskins' defensive players this week was the need for them to help set up the team's struggling offense with better field position so the playmaker-deficient unit would have an easier time scoring. The defense did just that twice in the first three quarters, but the offense couldn't capitalize either time.
The first missed opportunity came late in the first quarter. Washington's Graham Gano, another former Raven, had missed a 50-yard field goal wide left, giving Miami the ball at the 40-yard line. But three plays later, Redskins defensive back Kevin Barnes picked off Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore's third-and-31 pass and returned it to the 5-yard line.
But the offense actually went backward from there. A 1-yard touchdown run by Ryan Torain was called back by a holding penalty on tight end Logan Paulsen and, after they were backed up to the 11-yard line, the Redskins only made it back to the 8 before they had to settle for a field goal.
Washington scored one more field goal in the half, but trailed 10-6 at halftime. Sunday marked the fifth straight game in which the Redskins have failed to score a touchdown in the first half.
On the second play of the third quarter, rookie outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan got to Moore for his second sack and forced fumble of the game, and defensive end Stephen Bowen recovered at the Dolphins' 24-yard line.
The Redskins picked up 4 yards on a reception by Torain, but on the next play another holding penalty — this time on left tackle Trent Williams — pushed Washington back to the 30. Grossman completed three straight passes to move the team to the 5-yard line, but his fade route to Fred Davis in the corner of the end zone led the tight end out of bounds, and on came Gano for another field goal, making the score 10-9.
The kicking duel continued, as Miami went 70 yards in 11 plays, but also had to settle for a field goal and went back up 13-9.
After the loss, Shanahan said he believed Grossman did well despite his two interceptions, the first of which came when rookie Leonard Hankerson slipped on a pass route. But the coach wouldn't say whether Grossman would remain the starting quarterback.
"Well, we're still going to do the same thing" as last week, Shanahan said. "We're going to look at the scenario, what gives us the best chance to win, and make the decision based on that."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times