The first look at the Redskins offense without injured back Tim Hightower and injured receiver Santana Moss was about as expected — not very pretty. Washington went nowhere on its first two drives. The Bills used their second drive to march down the field for a touchdown, with Ryan Fitzpatrick hitting Scott Chandler with a 20-yard scoring pass. But so as not to be a total downer only one quarter in, there was a highlight for the Redskins. Rookie receiver Leonard Hankerson, the third-round pick involved in some controversy on his first play of the season in the loss to Carolina, hauled in his first career reception. Quarterback John Beck hit Hankerson for 23 yards with about two minutes to play in the quarter. That accounted for a major chunk of the 57 yards Washington gained in the quarter. Beck later overthrew Hankerson badly when he tried to connect with him on a bomb.
Finding a highlight in this quarter would require considerable license, more commonly known as fiction. When a team is outgained 124-4, as the Redskins were, highlights are really hard to find. Well, there’s this: Buffalo was only able to increase its lead to 13-0 at halftime on a pair of Rian Lindell field goals. And the Redskins’ London Fletcher did intercept Fitzpatrick to kill a Bills drive, the first “red zone” pick Fitzpatrick has thrown this season. Of course, after running it himself on first down, Beck was sacked on second down.
The Bills sacked Beck four times in the first half. That’s not good under any circumstances. It is particularly bad when you consider the Bills had only four sacks in six games coming into Sunday. With two weapons out in Hightower and Moss and two starting linemen also hurt, Beck had to be a magician to make anything happen. But he’s not.
Who knew the first two quarters would actually look good compared to the third? If there was a fiery halftime speech delivered, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan needs to tear it up and not use it again. Washington did pretty much nothing in the third quarter. OK, that’s what Washington did in the first half. It didn’t improve on that in the third quarter. Beck was sacked twice more, bringing the total for the game to six. Washington collected only two first downs in the quarter. Not once did it threaten to score. Still within range, the Redskins could have made things at least interesting with a good start to the quarter. Instead, the Redskins let Fred Jackson run for 37 yards on the first play of the half. Buffalo eventually went in for its second touchdown, another Fitzpatrick-to-Chandler pass, to build a 20-point lead that must have seemed like 200-0 given the Redskins’ struggles on offense.
It just kept getting worse for the Redskins, who tried to avoid being the first NFL team coached by Shanahan to be shut out. They failed, thus ending Shanahan’s non-shutout streak at 266 games, which is more than 16 full seasons. Beck was intercepted twice in the quarter and he spent a whole lot of time getting knocked down. Washington allowed nine sacks, tied for the most in team history. The last came very late, when Washington was within range of at least a field goal. It set up a fourth-down play and the Redskins went for the touchdown. Beck’s pass went incomplete. For the day, Washington was outgained more than 2-1 (390 yards to 178). Ryan Torain led the team in rushing. His total? Fourteen yards. The Redskins allowed Jackson to rush for 120 yards and Fitzpatrick to pass for 262. It was a day that started ugly and remained that way throughout.
The second half starts. A big defensive series for the Redskins and who knows? Despite their offensive ineptitude in the first half, maybe they can get back in it. Nope. Fred Jackson goes for 37 yards on a rush.
Shortly thereafter, the Bills score again on the second Ryan Fitzpatrick to Scott Chandler hookup of the day.
The momentum stayed with the Bills, thanks to Jackson’s big run to start the half. The way the Skins’ offense was struggling, this puppy was as good as over with them down by 20 points.