LANDOVER, Md., -- The Washington Redskins continue to be hurt by the same thing this season: themselves. The Redskins have enough trouble trying to beat other teams; they make it harder with self-inflicted wounds, which once again contributed to a loss.
The Redskins' defense played well Sunday -- again -- and even caused a turnover in a 9-0 loss to San Francisco. But the Redskins blew a chance for an upset with their own miscues, starting with a missed 39-yard field goal on a rain-soaked field on the game's opening drive. That capped an 8-minute, 14-second possession. Then there were the seven penalties for 47 yards in a game where every yard mattered. Finally, after reaching the 49ers' 29-yard line trailing 3-0, running back Adrian Peterson lost a fumble. In the end, the Redskins did what they often do: tease fans into thinking a game might go one way only to have it go the other.
Promising trend: The Redskins ran the ball well for a second consecutive game, as Peterson ran 20 times for 81 yards. Last week the suggestion was to "sell" the notion that they'd continue with this success mainly because of the upcoming opponents. But what's clear is that Washington will continue to stay committed to the run -- as long as the score allows. If nothing else, the Redskins can re-establish an offensive identity through a physical run game. The Redskins opened the game with 11 straight runs, a wise strategy given the weather and the 49ers' pass rush.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The inability to get the ball to receiver Terry McLaurin. He's been the Redskins' top playmaker this season, with eight receptions of 20 yards or more. But the Redskins were unable to get him the ball Sunday. He was targeted only two times and caught one pass for 11 yards. The hard part for Washington: Some of his best plays take an extra second to develop, and the Redskins feared slower-developing pass plays vs. the 49ers’ pass rush. The Redskins needed to be more aggressive late and try to get McLaurin involved. One other beef: When the Redskins had a fourth-and-inches from the 49ers' 28 in the second quarter, they bypassed a sneak for a handoff and were stuffed.
QB breakdown: In terrible conditions, Keenum at least didn't turn the ball over. That's an accomplishment. But when you don't score, you need to do more than not turn it over. In fairness to Keenum, those penalties and the turnover didn't help the offense -- and him -- at all. After a while the Redskins needed to attack more and failed to do so; in a game where Washington never led, Keenum only threw 12 times for 77 yards. The Redskins really want to be extra patient with rookie Dwayne Haskins. While word is that he's been more engaged the past two weeks, he's still considered far away -- by teammates and coaches. But fans aren't calling for him because they think he's ready; they're doing so because they know what the other guys aren't doing -- winning.
Pivotal play: The Redskins could point to a few big plays allowed by the defense, especially on third down, as San Francisco converted seven of 15. But the play that will bother them as much as any will be Peterson's third-quarter fumble. The Redskins only trailed 3-0 and had momentum after a 19-yard pass play. But on the next play, Peterson fumbled for the first time this season. Washington never threatened after the fumble.