LANDOVER – It only took a week for the honeymoon phase to end after Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson torched the Arizona Cardinals for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-6 win on Sept. 9.
Washington could not replicate the same level of success, or find the end zone for that matter, against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 16 which prompted Redskins fans to shower FedExField with boos after falling to the Indianapolis Colts 21-9.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck wasted little time in getting his offense moving in the right direction when the former Stanford University standout led an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a beautiful fade in the back corner of the end zone to tight end Eric Ebron for a 7-yard touchdown.
Peterson had an abysmal outing, rushing for only 20 yards on 11 carries. Smith was only six yards shy of Smith’s total on the ground for the afternoon and former Duke University wide receiver Jamison Crowder led the team in rushing with 29 yards on two attempts.
With the lack of a strong running game, Smith struggled to make enough big plays in a game where dink-and-dunk gains were not effective enough to exploit Indianapolis’s secondary.
Smith positioned kicker Dustin Hopkins for a 49-yard attempt early in the second quarter after failing to hit wideout Josh Doctson on a short pass up the middle on third and four; Hopkins banged it through, but on the Colts ensuing drive, running back Nyheim Hines broke free on an eight-yard dash to go up 14-3.
Despite veteran safety D.J. Swearinger picking off Luck twice in total, Washington could not capitalize on those opportunities and was only able to muster two more field goals by Hopkins before Colts wideout Ty Hilton (seven receptions for 83 yards) sealed the deal with a 3-yard touchdown reception for Indianapolis in the fourth quarter with more than five minutes remaining to go up 12 points with the clock on the Colts side.
“In the first half, I think a lot of things, certainly chemistry, rhythm; I didn’t think we had any of that,””Smith said of the lack of chemistry on offense. “I didn’t think we were great on first or second downs. We gave ourselves some tough third downs in the first half, and then we didn’t convert so it was tough.
“Towards the end of the second half, I thought we finally did get in a rhythm but situationally even though we did put some drives together, but we stalled out, we stalled in the red zone. I think those are the two big things looking at it. Third down, red zone, it’s one of those days when you’re looking at a ton of opportunities but we needed to be better down there.”
Smith went 33-of-46 for 292 yards but failed to stretch the field other than finding Paul Richardson on a 34-yard bomb down the left sideline in the first half.
“Yeah, basically what I think is they were just disguising their help,” Richardson said about the Colts defensive looks. “They had help in different areas, and they were just switching it up.
“So, one time they will have help over the top, next they will have help over the middle with deep help. They always kept somebody deep, you just didn’t know if the help was coming from the outside or the inside, or was it no help then a rush. It’s just a combination of things.”
Redskins running back Chris Thompson was the beneficiary of most of the yardage by hauling in 13 receptions for 92 yards, but he only gained one yard on four carries.
“They just played better than us; that’s it,” Thompson said. “There isn’t really much to say about it, we just have to execute better.”
The Colts rebounded from a tough 34-23 week 1 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 9 but Luck and company persevered the following week on the road to capture its first win of the young season.
Washington, on the other hand, fell short after a domineering performance against the Cardinals and will have to regroup as they host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
“We were excited and upbeat as a result of last week, we are probably a little down this week, and that is pro football, and you have to handle the good with the bad, and see what type of team you’re made of, how we handle adversity – and this is an adverse situation,” Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden said.
“Never like to lose at home ever, but we did and now we have to bounce back in a big way. And get ready for Aaron Rodgers’ led Packer team.”