Uttering "disappointed" or "disappointing" no fewer than nine times during his postgame news conference, Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan sounded very much like someone ready to write off the season.
In what Shanahan insisted beforehand was a "must-win" game, the Redskins committed 13 penalties, gave up an 82-yard pass, watched Robert Griffin III stuffed on a fourth-and-goal and lost 21-13 Sunday to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
It was the Redskins' third consecutive defeat and dropped them to 3-6.
"You lose a game like that, now you're playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come. I'll get a chance to evaluate players and see where we're at," Shanahan said.
"Obviously, we're not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we've got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season."
Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos, is in his third season with Washington and has lost nearly twice as many games as he's won with the Redskins, going 14-27.
Discussing the Redskins' problems on offense and defense against the Panthers, Shanahan summed up Sunday's showing by saying, "Obviously I could do a better job."
The poor-as-can-be pass defense, double-digit penalties and inability to win at home — the Redskins are 1-9 in their past 10 in Landover — are hallmarks of the club in 2012.
"People are going to criticize you and criticize the coaches. ... They're going to say that a drastic change needs to be made. But I don't feel that way," said Griffin, who got his sore ribs X-rayed after the game but said nothing was broken.
"I feel it's on us, on the players, to make sure we go out there and play, regardless of what Coach calls — offense, defense or special teams. We're the ones out there playing. We've got to make plays happen."
While the Panthers (2-6) ended a five-game losing streak, thanks in part to Newton's 201 yards passing and 37 yards rushing despite a bloodied thumb, the Redskins head into their bye week with plenty of questions.
Entering this week, Washington was the NFL's most-penalized team, and its 13 infractions against Carolina were the most for the Redskins since they tied the club record of 17 in a game against the New York Giants in September 2003.
"That's what nauseates you," Shanahan said. "We stopped ourselves a number of times."
The Redskins — and No. 2 overall draft pick Griffin — also suddenly are having problems moving the ball and scoring. Good as the guy known as RG3 has been, his club only scored 25 points the past two games combined.
"It felt like every time we got something going, there was a flag on the play. The refs beat us up a little bit," left tackle Trent Williams said.
He also declined to credit Carolina's defense with slowing Washington's offense.
"They didn't do anything special to stop us," Williams said.
Washington put together a 12-play drive that resulted in a field goal, a 10-play drive that resulted in a field goal and a 10-minute drive that resulted in zero points.
The latter closed with Heisman Trophy winner Griffin being tackled for no gain on a run to the right side on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with about 5½ minutes left in the first half.
"I don't know what happened," left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said, "but we should be able to punch that in."
Now the Redskins get their bye, a chance to regroup — and, according to Shanahan, begin the process of evaluating things with an eye to the future.
"Very disappointed right now, very emotional right now," Shanahan said, "just as everybody would be."
Notes: Redskins WR Santana Moss left in the fourth quarter with a concussion. ... After their week off, the Redskins return to a schedule that features three consecutive NFC East division games — against the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants — followed by a test against the Baltimore Ravens. ... RB Evan Royster's 2-yard run accounted for Washington's only TD with about 1½ minutes remaining. ... An official blew an inadvertent whistle during Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams' 30-yard TD run in the first quarter, but the crew met and decided it did not affect the outcome of the play. ... Umpire Undrey Wash got hit in the face with the football when Redskins TE Logan Paulsen tossed the ball in his direction after a catch. Wash stayed in the game. ... The Redskins have allowed eight pass plays of at least 40 yards this season. ... Griffin and Alfred Morris became the first rookie QB and RB teammates to each run for 500 yards in a season.
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