LANDOVER, Md. -- Rex Grossman does this. It's what he has always done, dating to that incomprehensible 2006 season when he "led" the Bears to the Super Bowl with some of the most erratic quarterback play we've ever seen. He'll play well for weeks at a time, and then Sunday will happen. Rex is like that dog down the street, nice to everyone until one day, boom, he bites his owner on the leg. Why? Nobody knows.
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Rex was asked. He meandered from excuse to excuse, blaming one interception on a teammate and maybe even two more of them on teammates -- read his quotes for yourself in a minute -- after previously declaring, "I didn't execute."
That's the epitaph on this gruesome game for the Redskins -- a game they needed to win, at home against a slumping opponent, to stay in first and send the Eagles toppling deeper into the basement of the most fascinating division in football.
But the Redskins had no chance to hand the Eagles their fifth consecutive loss, not with Grossman playing like he did -- and not with Shanahan coaching like he did.
Grossman was so bad for so long that Shanahan owed it to his team to remove him from the game, like a doctor removing a mole that has changed shape and color before it brings down the rest of the body. Shanahan committed coaching malpractice, leaving in Grossman long enough to throw those four picks before surgically removing him from the offense.
Backup John Beck sparked the team with 117 passing yards and a rushing touchdown, all in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. It was 20-6 when Beck came in the game, and he led two decent drives -- the first into field-goal range before two penalties forced a punt, the second for a touchdown with 2 minutes, 44 seconds left -- but the Eagles ran out the clock.
About the Eagles ...
For one half, this was the preseason monster people expected to see. It was 20-3 at halftime, with Michael Vick throwing for 141 yards and LeSean McCoy running for 78. The Eagles outgained the Redskins 250-75 in the first half, and they were driving for another score early in the third quarter when it became Vick's turn to do what he does, throwing a low-trajectory pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted. It was Vick's fifth interception in two games -- three of them on balls tipped at the line.
One possession later Vick was injured and replaced by Vince Young, who needed just one pass attempt -- an atrocious interception, worse than any thrown by Grossman -- to remind us why he didn't stick with Tennessee. Vick returned on the next series, and the Eagles cautiously grinded out the game with running plays.
The Redskins had no such luxury. Forced to pass to eat quickly into the deficit, they were at the mercy of Grossman -- who had played decently through four games. His quarterback rating entering Sunday was a modest 78.7, but the Redskins' record was a lustrous 3-1. From the first series Sunday, though, the old Rex was there -- missing tight end Fred Davis on a screen on the fourth snap, then throwing a textbook interception, deep over the middle into double coverage, on the fifth.
|The Eagles did a terrific job defensively, using their speed to stop the Redskins run game; they also appeared to use the linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage. Offensively they managed just 20 points out of 422 total yards.|
|The Redskins' offense managed to get nothing going against a struggling defense. Their running game was non-existent, in part because of two injuries along the line. They rightly benched Rex Grossman for John Beck in the fourth quarter. The defense was excellent in the second half, but they couldn't stop them when needed late.|
|By John Keim|
On the next series, Grossman bobbled a shotgun snap into the end zone but retrieved it in time to throw the ball away. On the next snap he collided with running back Ryan Torain on a handoff, ruining the play before it started. Four plays later Grossman threw an easy interception on third down to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but DRC dropped the pick. The Redskins punted.
On the first play of the next series, Grossman threw his second interception of the game. At that point, it seemed obvious Grossman was not working out. But neither Shanahan nor his overly qualified offensive coordinator, son Kyle Shanahan, saw it that way.
And Eagles safety Kurt Coleman owes them a Christmas card for that.
Coleman was the guy who recorded the Eagles' second interception of Grossman. And the third. And the fourth.
By then, the Shanahans had seen enough.
"With four turnovers there, we thought it was time to make a change," Mike Shanahan said.
Grossman's excuse for such a bad day? Hard to say, really. He took sole ownership of just one pick, the second, a deep ball he threw short.
"That's normally something I can hit in my sleep," he said.
I'm positive Grossman was blaming Fred Davis for the third pick when he said, "Some of these you have to trust other people to make a cut to cross the safety space ... so I trusted that [Davis] was going to be able to cross the safety space on his route. I'm not sure what happened, but he wasn't able to."
Grossman might have been blaming his targets, or at least trying to share the blame, on his other two interceptions as well.
On his first pick: "I tried to put a ball up so Fred could go out and just get it," Grossman said. "It was intercepted."
On his fourth: "I thought Jabar [Gaffney] was coming back for the ball, and the defender was. It is what it is. It was a bad game. I got to forget about it and move on."
From the press conference, Grossman moved on to the locker room -- talking to no one and being approached by no one until he got to his locker, where reserve tight end Logan Paulsen came over for a handshake, telling Grossman, "I love you."
Paulsen might be the only one in town who feels that way after Sunday, a game where Grossman did what he tends to do.