With 1 1/2 weeks to prepare for the Super Bowl champions, the Washington Redskins managed to avoid yet another embarrassment in prime time.
What the Redskins could not do was avoid another loss.
Kirk Cousins managed to protect the football, his teammates managed to stay away from a lot of penalties while taking advantage of more than a dozen by Seattle, and the Redskins managed to make things quite close before being beaten 27-17 by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks on Monday night.
"You can't build on a loss. It's still an 'L,'" safety Ryan Clark said after Washington fell to 1-4, last in an NFC East led pair of teams — Dallas and Philadelphia — that are 4-1. "But what we've got to do is find the things we did well, continue to do those — and the things that made us lose this game, do those better."
That's an ample list, of course.
The offense's first four drives all ended in punts. The running game produced a measly 1.9 yards per carry, 32 yards in all, yet the Redskins stuck with it against what often was a nine-man front. The special teams tried an onside kick that didn't work and allowed Seattle to get a first down off a fake field goal, when the holder, punter Jon Ryan, ran for 5 yards. The defense failed to provide a turnover.
First-year coach Jay Gruden acknowledged each of those problems after opening his postgame news conference by stepping up to the microphone, sighing loudly and saying, "Oh, boy."
"Overall, as a group offensively, our running game's not quite good enough. Obviously our deep passing game's not quite good enough," Gruden said. "We're not quite good enough anywhere. It starts with the playcalling."
About 10 minutes later, Gruden lamented the lack of a big takeaway.
The Redskins have a minus-5 turnover differential this season, which ranked better than only two other teams in the NFL entering Week 5.
"We've got to get a turnover somewhere. We're not getting any turnovers and we're not really changing the momentum with our special teams. So there's a couple areas that we've got to really figure out what to do," Gruden said.
"And when you're playing these close games, eventually somebody's got to get a turnover, somebody's got to block a kick, somebody's got to do something," he continued. "I see ESPN highlights all the time, and I see blocked kicks for touchdowns and interceptions for touchdowns. We've got to figure out a way to get some of those."
That would help, certainly.
So, too, would stopping an opposing quarterback.
A game after losing 45-14 to Eli Manning and the New York Giants on Sept. 25 — when Cousins had five turnovers, including four second-half interceptions — the Redskins simply could not figure out a way to contain Wilson.
Seattle's QB ran 11 times for a career-high 122 yards and a touchdown. He also completed 18 of 24 passes for 201 yards and a pair of TD passes for the Seahawks (3-1).
"Once it's all said and done," Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said, "he'll go down as one of the best."
On one terrific fourth-quarter play, Wilson scrambled forward — so close to the line of scrimmage, Washington challenged the ruling that he didn't cross it, but it was confirmed on replay review — then reversed course, scurried around some more, and completed a 19-yard pass to tight end Luke Willson.
On another, at third-and-4 right before the 2-minute warning, Wilson twisted to get away from linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, then — while tumbling backward with another defender in his face — lofted a 30-yard completion to Marshawn Lynch.
Still, the Redskins used Cousins' 60-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson and a 57-yard connection between those two to get within 17-10 early in the third quarter.
And Cousins' 6-yard TD toss to Andre Roberts made it 24-17 with 3 1/2 minutes left.
But Wilson finished the job by leading a field-goal drive for the final margin.
"We came up short," Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said.
Notes: Cousins was 21 of 36 for 283 yards. He dropped to 1-6 in his career as a Redskins starter. ... Robert Griffin III missed a third consecutive game with a dislocated left ankle. ... Washington has lost seven prime-time games in a row and is 4-15 on Monday nights since 2000. ... Jackson finished with five catches for 157 yards.
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