So close, but yet so far: Redskins fall to Titans 25-16 (Week 16-2018)

By: Drew Willingham

Headline Photo Credit-Darrell Owens-LMS Network

NASHVILLE, TN – The Redskins entered Saturday’s Week 16 contest against the Titans following a come from behind win that was large in part of the play by newcomer QB Josh Johnson. The fourth string quarterback made his second start in a row for the team and his first set of consecutive starts since Week 6 and Week 7 of the 2009 season. Washington’s game-plan was to ride the wave of RB Adrian Peterson once again and hope for the best as they were still in the playoff hunt coming in to this game with a 7-7 overall record. 

On the other side of the ball, Tennessee also entered this game with similar hopes as they too had a chance at a playoff berth if they win out and have a little help from other teams along the way. Starting the game with an 8-6 record, The Titans needed a win at home this week, and a divisional win against the Indianapolis Colts during their season finale match-up at home next week as well to make the playoffs for the first time under Head Coach Mike Vrabel.

Washington would start the game with the ball as they would drive down the field and score on a 50-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins. The 50-yard field goal would be Hopkins ninth of his career and would tie Chip Lohmiller for second on the franchise list for career field goals made from that distance. Tennessee would score a touchdown on the following possession by a 1-yard rush from RB Derrick Henry to take the lead, but would miss the extra point as they would lead Washington 6-3. The remainder of the first quarter would be lackluster as Washington would have possession heading in to the second quarter.

The Redskins would rely on Peterson to eat up yards on the ground to place them in scoring position, the plan would end up to be a success as they would run off over 10 minutes of the play clock with the running game. By the end of the drive, Johnson would find WR Michael Floyd for a 7-yard touchdown pass, the extra point by Hopkins would be a success, and the Redskins would take the lead 10-6. The Titans would place themselves in to scoring position with :01 remaining in the second quarter, K Ryan Succop would convert on a 42-yard field goal, and the score would be close heading in to halftime as the Redskins would lead 10-9.

Redskins Safety DJ Swearinger has some Critical comments about his defensive coordinator Greg Manusky after loss to the Titans
(Photo Credit:Darrell Owens-LMS Network)

The third quarter began with Tennessee in possession of the ball as they hoped the score to end the first half would carry the momentum in their favor. Unfortunately for the Titans, that would not be the case and they would punt on the ensuing drive. The third quarter would be a battle of the defenses and special teams, both punters saw most of the action, but Washington would muster a 40-yard field goal  by the foot of Hopkins to extend their lead 13-9. In order to depart Nashville with a victory, Washington would need to have continued success of the ground game, hope for stellar play by their defense, and zero turnovers from the offense as they led the Titans heading in to the final quarter of regulation.

The Titans would begin the fourth quarter by scoring on a 33-yard field goal by Succop to narrow their deficit by one point as Washington still lead 13-12. The Redskins would stick with their game plan and ride the wave of Peterson to drive the ball down the field to a score on the following possession. However, the score would be on a 46-yard field goal by Hopkins to only extend their lead by four as the score would be 16-12 with 8:14 left in regulation. The ensuing drive by the Titans would lead to a touchdown as they would regain the lead 19-16 with 4:35 remaining. 

Washington would be in prime position to at least tie the game up as the game clock was on their side as well as two timeouts remaining. Johnson’s confidence was in the right direction as he would connect on multiple passes to his receivers, including one for 13 yards that would help them get to the Tennessee 44-yard line with 1:22 remaining. The offense would line up in shotgun formation on the ensuing play, Johnson would sling a 17-yard pass that would become an interception by S Kevin Byard, and the Titans would appear to be in control of the outcome as time winded down. The Redskins would use their final two timeouts that would help force a punt with :20 remaining in the contest and give them two plays to at least get in to field goal position. On the second play of the drive, Johnson would be intercepted for a pick 6 by Malcolm Butler for a 56-yard touchdown as the Titans would win the game by a score of 25-16.

The Titans would leave this game with their playoff hopes still alive, while the Redskins fall to 7-8 and have no life left for the season beyond Week 17. Next week, Washington has a match-up at home against the rival Philadelphia Eagles who are inching their way towards a consecutive division title. With their playoff berth hopes as a wild card now out of reach, the best Washington can hope for would be a win to close out the season and end on a high note with an 8-8 record. Despite a remarkable start to the season, this one was riddled by injuries to a Redskins team that looked destined for a division title throughout the first 10 weeks. Depending on the health of their overall team, including the starting quarterback position, the 2019 off-season will be filled with speculation on what’s next for what appeared to be a talented squad that began the 2018 season with such promise. One thing is for sure, the Redskins will need to make some move this off-season in order to get back to playoff contention and restore faith back in the fans that support them.