Washington Redskin free agent receivers are frustrating the fans and the team. Their lack of focus and discipline is beyond comprehension.
Kicker Billy Cundiff's 42-yard field goal saved the Redskins' hide on Sunday. The team rallied for a 24-22 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It didn't have to be that close.
Redskins' receiver Pierre Garcon committed a cheap shot penalty that ignited a late Tampa Bay rally. Only two games earlier, fellow free agent receiver Joshua Morgan committed an unsportsmanlike penalty that ended Washington's chances in a loss at St. Louis.
Garcon and Morgan were the Redskins' top free agent acquisitions because the NFL salary cap sanctions prohibited them from addressing other needs. At this point, their on-field behavior is proving more costly than their paychecks.
The Redskins were leading 21-6, and in control of the game in the third quarter until Garcon's gaffe. The Buccaneers offense was still on the bus. But five plays after Garcon's pass-interference blunder, he was flagged again for a hit after the whistle and away from the ball. The penalty on Garcon was indefensible. He was obviously trying to pay back Tampa Bay's secondary, which had held him to one catch.
Prior to Garcon's escapade, the Bucs resembled Redskins teams of years past with ill-timed penalties, scattershot incompletions and a costly turnover. However, the penalty for the hit after the whistle energized Tampa Bay and deflated Washington, which suddenly began making its own mistakes.
The Bucs soon completed a 66-yard pass that set up its first touchdown, which sliced the lead to 21-13. The following possession had 54- and 22-yard pass plays as the Bucs came within 21-19 of their rivals. Washington was able to stop the two-point conversion to prevent a tie, but its offense had stalled. With 1:47 remaining, the Bucs finally took the lead 22-21 on a 47-yard field goal.
After giving up 101 points in the 1-2 start, the defense had its best performance of the year in spite of safety Brandon Meriweather's absence. Meriweather – who was scheduled to make his first appearance this season – and receiver Aldrick Robinson were injured in a freak collision during warm-ups. Only this injury-plagued Redskin squad could lose two players before the game even started.
Early in the game, the defense didn't need Meriweather. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall had an interception that set up a touchdown. And Washington's defensive pressure, led by linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, gave Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman a serious case of "happy feet." The happier his feet became, the less accurate his passes were.
Of course, that's until the Bucs late-game resurgence. Freeman suddenly caught fire and finished 24-for-39 for 299 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Meanwhile, Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III continued his outstanding play this season. After his fumble on the Tampa Bay 1-yard line during a keeper was recovered for a touchdown by Garcon, Griffin scored on the same call later for a 14-3 lead. Griffin took several hard hits but far less than in the previous week's loss to Cincinnati, when the Bengals players hit him approximately 29 times.
Griffin was excellent on the final drive to set up Cundiff, but the offensive leader now needs to persuade his receivers to stop being the problem and become a part of the solution.