- The Washington Times
Sunday, October 20, 2019

LANDOVER — Steven Sims couldn’t remember the last time he played in a game quite like Sunday’s 9-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers — and the Washington Redskins rookie wide receiver is from Houston, a city that has seen its share of downpours.

“I haven’t played in a game like that,” Sims said.

The Washington area was drenched with heavy rain Sunday, forcing both the Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers to adapt to the miserable conditions. Players slid through the puddles and the rain made it difficult to hold on to the ball.

As a result, the Redskins attempted just 12 passes — their fewest since Dec. 15, 1990, and just the 21st time in franchise history that the team threw 12 or fewer passes.

All but three of those games happened before 1965.

“It definitely impacted the game plan,” quarterback Case Keenum said. ” … We played the field position battle a few times, but it just didn’t work out. Just being able to catch, snap and punt the ball in that weather was unbelievable.”

Keenum said the Redskins couldn’t make any excuses, given the conditions were the same for San Francisco.

San Francisco and Washington handled the weather differently. Like Washington, the 49ers relied heavily upon the run — rushing 39 times for 137 yards. But San Francisco also took shots down the field, something the Redskins rarely did.

In the socond half in particualr, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was aggressively attacking deep. The 27-year-old found an open Richie James Jr. on a 40-yard completion, setting up San Francisco’s first field goal.

The Redskins, meanwhile, went conservative. Even on third downs, Washington opted short throws, including targeting Sims on screens and shovel passes.

Deep threats Paul Richardson and Terry McLaurin had just one and two targets, respectively.

“Unfortunately, we wanted some more (passing) attempts,” Redskins interim coach Bill Callahan said, “and we just didn’t have that opportunity.”

Since taking over for Jay Gruden, Callahan has largely emphasized the run. Running back Adrian Peterson received at least 20 carries for the second straight game — the first time that’s happened since weeks 7 and 8 last year.

Callahan felt the Redskins got away from the formula that made them successful last season: Running the ball and making stops on defense.

On Sunday, the Redskins actually had success in both areas.

They kept San Francisco out of the end zone and Washington had 104 rushing yards on 26 attempts.

But Washington needed its passing game to produce, especially when the 49ers finally put points on the board.

For a moment, Keenum seemed to have found a groove. He hit tight end Jeremy Sprinkle for 13 yards and then two plays later found Trey Quinn down the sideline for 19. Quinn hauled the ball in, sliding out of bounds in the rain.

One play later, the Redskins went back to the run — and Peterson fumbled while taking a hit.

In the fourth, Keenum attempted just three passes, completing two for only two yards.

Sunday’s loss marked the second week in a row in which Keenum struggled. He was also off in last week’s win against the Miami Dolphins, completing just 52% of his passes.

Callahan, however, said the Redskins won’t turn to rookie Dwayne Haskins just yet. Washington has a short turnaround, having to face the Minnesota Vikings on “Thursday Night Football.”

“Dwayne’s still learning,” Callahan said. “He’d be the first one to tell you that. We still have faith, total faith in Case and his ability to manage this offense and run this offense and execute everything within it.

“We’re moving forward with Case at this juncture.”

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