Here’s what could have been: RG3 fresh off the bye with a stellar game, the defense destroying the Cowboys’ offense, and special teams making big plays. Oh, what could have been.
This was one of those epic Redskins/Cowboys battles that could have changed everything—if the Skins had come out on top. One victory could wipe away the feeling of disgust that surrounded the 1-3 start to the season and given new hope to the team and fans alike. But unfortunately that didn’t happen.
After a defeat, it’s like this: heads down, some players in tears, some throwing things, some walking around depressed. The feeling in the locker room is dejection. Some look around the room and want to point fingers. They want to yell, “I did my part, and if you did yours we could have won this game.” When I played I wanted to call guys out, but all of my years of training taught me that football is a team game and that we win and lose together. Every time I lost, I was embarrassed for my team—my family—because I let them down. I hated Mondays because we watched the film and every mistake, every fault, was called out.
The Redskins lost 31-16 thanks to a lot of the same old issues but with a new twist: the special teams underperforming. Those players, coached by Keith Burns, allowed Dwayne Harris to return an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for 90 yards, which also turned into a touchdown. Not to pile on the special teams, but they also had four penalties for over 35 yards, which is unheard of for a group who are supposed to not cause problems but make big plays with one strike, like Navy SEALs.
The good news of the day was that the defense played well enough to hold Tony Romo to 170 yards passing, and even managed to pick him off once. RG3 was moving around a bit like his old self, but even though Alfred Morris was running the ball well, the Redskins were walking away with just field goals when they had the opportunity to make touchdowns. Good teams can win scoring three points at a time, but bad teams cannot afford to leave points unanswered. The Redskins have to score seven whenever given a chance.
So how do you deal with defeat? The team can’t dwell on the loss for too long. It’s time to prepare for the next game. Pain without correction is nothing. The Redskins have to learn that they are not the great team everyone wrote about in preseason and that the only way to win is that everyone must do their job to perfection. There are no superstars.
Ken Harvey is the former president of the Washington Redskins Alumni Association. He played as an outside linebacker for the Phoenix Cardinals and the Washington Redskins from 1988 to 1999. During his career he appeared in 164 games and recorded 89 sacks.