FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The drops occurred too often, but the bad hands didn’t stop there. A fumble by Matt Jones … a failed onside kick recovery by Ryan Grant … it added up to a game full of frustration.
The New England Patriots were not at their best; they had some offensive-line issues and lost running back Dion Lewis during the game. But the Washington Redskins’ drops made life easier for the Patriots. The Redskins now have 15 drops this season after seven on Sunday. It hasn’t been an issue, but it was Sunday as Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Jones, Jordan Reed and Derek Carrier all dropped passes.
Garcon had the first pass of the game skip off his hands and get intercepted. It was his second drop of the season, two more than he had in 2014.
“It didn’t help when you’re playing the best team on the road,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of the drops. “We had to make some plays, but we didn’t make enough plays to win games, to challenge the champs. It’s unfortunate.
"We had guys that dropped balls that don't drop balls very often. I'll throw it to them again and again and again and I won't expect them to drop ever again. It was just one of those days."
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 22 of 40 passes for 217 yards and one touchdown, with one interception. But his game was hard to accurately gauge because of all the drops. He made accurate throws but wasn’t helped by his teammates. Other games, they’ve helped him (see: Garcon, against Philadelphia).
But more than letting Cousins down, the drops killed the offense and therefore the team. If that were the lone issue, it would be OK because drops are fixable. An inability to run or stop the run, apparently, is not.
Still, that’s why the drops mattered. Garcon’s drop occurred right after Washington’s Will Blackmon caused and recovered a fumble (after bailing out Grant’s inability to recover the onside kick). It led to a Patriots touchdown and 14-0 lead. Jones’ fumble led to a field goal.
“I didn’t get the ball secure yet and [Alan Branch] hit the ball as soon as I tried to secure it,” Jones said. “We dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of.”
Other drives simply stopped the offense cold.
“We stopped ourselves from the first play to the last drive,” Garcon said. “There’s no need to explain [the drops]. They’re drops. You can’t drop the ball in this league. You’ve got to fix it. It happens. We have to eliminate that.
“You don’t expect it to happen. You expect guys to catch the ball. I expect myself to catch the ball. You move forward and forget about it.”
That’s all the Redskins can do.
“All our guys have good natural hands and have made some really tough catches this year,” Cousins said. “So I don’t see this as a trend or a pattern, but more of just an anomaly. It happens and we will move on from it and, if anything, it will help give us an edge this next week.”
If the Redskins want to accomplish anything – just in terms of building the proper culture – then that’s the only way to respond.