Red zone turnovers and impact on Redskins

The Washington Redskins, and quarterback Robert Griffin III in particular, did an excellent job of taking care of the ball in the red zone a year ago. That’s not the case this season. Griffin did not throw an interception in the red zone as a rookie; he’s thrown three this season and also lost a fumble.

Last season, the Redskins only turned it over once in the red zone (an Alfred Morris fumble in the second game versus the New York Giants that Washington won. The Redskins turned it over on downs inside the 5 in a loss to Carolina and from the 18 in a win over Philadelphia. They only turned the ball over three times in opposing territory).

Would the Redskins season be much different without some of these plays? Perhaps. A touchdown on any of these plays would have impacted the game. Whether they would have won or lost is another matter, but there's no denying these plays changed the game in a negative way:

  • Week 3 versus Detroit. The Redskins had a first-and-10 at the Lions’ 19-yard line, trailing 14-0. Griffin faced pressure and ran to his right and was about to be tackled along the right sideline when he unloaded a bullet for receiver Pierre Garcon on the same side. But Garcon did not anticipate the throw; both he and the defensive back had stopped running. The seven points were costly and Washington lost 27-20. It was not the best decision, perhaps. But the throw was good.

  • Week 6 at Dallas. This wasn’t in the red zone, but it was close enough to be a lost opportunity. The Redskins were at the Cowboys’ 23-yard line when Griffin threw to the right corner of the end zone for receiver Santana Moss. But Griffin, anticipating the play, threw just as Moss slipped and fell, leading to an easy interception. The Redskins trailed 31-16 and there were 5 minutes, 16 seconds left.

  • Week 10 at Minnesota. This was not a turnover, though it had the same impact. The Redskins had the ball first-and-goal at the Vikings’ 8-yard line with less than a minute remaining. One run and three passes later, the Redskins could only manage 4 more yards. It prevented a game-tying touchdown in a 34-27 loss. Griffin’s fourth-down throw could be second-guessed; he threw to Moss in the left corner, but he could have opted for either Garcon or tight end Jordan Reed. However, in this case, a quarterback must make his read and go.

  • Week 11 at Philadelphia. The Redskins trailed 14-0 when they reached the Eagles’ 5-yard line. Griffin was hit and fumbled as he started to throw. Running back Roy Helu could have done a better job slowing the outside linebacker, but Griffin held the ball way too long. He had Reed matched one-on-one and was looking at him, but failed to deliver the ball, even though he had an advantage. Even three points here could have altered the game.

  • Week 11 at Philadelphia. The Redskins trailed 24-16 in the final minute when Griffin, backpedaling away from pressure, tried to throw the ball out of the end zone. It didn’t get there; Brandon Boykin intercepted it to end the Redskins’ hopes.