Wrap-up: Panthers 21, Redskins 13

A few thoughts on the Washington Redskins' third consecutive loss, this one to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon at FedEx field.

What it means: If you were still holding out hope that the Redskins could make a playoff run this year, now might be a good time to recalibrate your expectations. They were just outmanned and outplayed, at home, by one of the worst teams in the league. Carolina did an excellent job of bottling up Robert Griffin III by keeping the pocket very tight around him and limiting his options. This is one of many things the Redskins' defense is not able to do to its opponents with any consistency, and it effectively eliminated Washington's passing game in this one.

Second-guessing: I didn't like the call to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line down 7-3 in the second quarter, mainly because I think the Redskins' defense is so bad right now that it doesn't matter whether they make the other team go 50 yards, 80 yards or 98 yards -- they can't operate on the assumption that they're going to be able to get a stop or maintain a field-position advantage. I'd have taken the points while I had them. And if you do go for it there, you can't run that quarterback sprint out to the short side. No matter how fast Griffin is, you take away your options when you run that play to the short side. Bad decision, bad play call, bad execution.

The whistle: If indeed an official blew a whistle during DeAngelo Williams' 30-yard touchdown run and Redskins linebacker Perry Riley pulled up as a result, then the Redskins have a legitimate complaint. The play should have been blown dead. Now, there was nothing to say the Redskins couldn't have won the game anyway, or that the phantom whistle was the reason they lost. But Redskins fans were furious after that play, and it appears the fury was justified.

The bigger problem: The Redskins were called for 13 penalties for a total of 97 yards. Two of the late ones were a holding call and a false start that delayed the touchdown that cut the Carolina lead to one score in the final two minutes. The Redskins don't hold enough personnel advantages over their opponents to get away with that many critical, avoidable mistakes.

What's next: The Redskins are off next week. They return after the bye with a 1 p.m. ET home game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Nov. 18.