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Struggles On Third Down Continue To Limit Redskins’ Offensive Momentum

By ZAC BOYER | @ZacBoyer

LANDOVER, Md. – The Washington Redskins went 1-for-9 on third-down conversions in their 24-17 loss to Atlanta on Sunday, immediately drawing the ire of Mike Shanahan.


The Redskins’ head coach began his press conference by speaking about the lack of success, which builds off a dismal 2-for-11 conversion rate last week at Tampa Bay. On the season, Washington has converted on 23.3 percent of its third-down opportunities and entered the week tied with the Buccaneers for the worst success rate in the NFL.

“We need to convert on those third downs,” Shanahan said. “We were close, had a couple of hands that were very close to making those third downs, but you’ve got to make them, especially against a football team like Atlanta that does a good job of controlling the clock and making third downs themselves. They kind of controlled the tempo of the football game. Even though we had a few good runs in there, we kind of just couldn’t get in that momentum.”

The Redskins ran six times on third down, including on a play with six minutes remaining in the third quarter in which quarterback Robert Griffin III was hit hard and sustained a concussion. On two other third-and-short occasions, Washington ran the ball but failed to extend the drive.

But the Redskins’ biggest play came on third down when Kirk Cousins found Santana Moss for a 77-yard touchdown reception with 12:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. Washington was facing third-and-9 on that play.

“That was an absolute learning experience for us – not just the players but for coaches as well,” Atlanta head coach Mike Smith said.

Washington went 3-for-12 against Cincinnati, 4-for-13 at St. Louis and 4-for-15 at New Orleans.

“If you’re not going to make any plays on third down, you’re not going to put up any points,” tight end Fred Davis said. “That’s what we failed at today.”