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Washington Is Now Relying on Mark Sanchez to Lead a Playoff Push

Already without Alex Smith, the team lost Colt McCoy to a broken leg on Monday night and will likely turn to the longtime Jets starter

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Coming into Monday night’s game against Philadelphia, Washington’s playoff hopes sat perched on the precipice. The New York Times gave the 6-5 Redskins an exactly 50 percent chance to reach the postseason, and their game against the Eagles was essentially a must-win matchup for a team that led the NFC East just a few short weeks ago.

Not only did Washington lose the game (the Eagles pulled away in the fourth quarter to win 28-13), but the team’s season appears to be over. Quarterback Colt McCoy fractured his right fibula in the second quarter, a similar injury to the one Alex Smith suffered two weeks ago against the Texans. And like Smith’s, McCoy’s season is done.

The Redskins are built to rely on their ground game and defense and have minimized what they’ve asked Smith and McCoy to do all season. But after McCoy’s injury, the team is now relying on Mark Sanchez, whom the Redskins signed off the street two weeks ago. He didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard in relief of McCoy on Monday night. Sanchez completed 13 of 21 passes for 100 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception. In other words, he was the same old Sanchez he’s always been—he now has 87 career interceptions, surpassing his 86 career touchdown passes. Hell, the highlight of the game for him literally involved using his butt:

Sanchez got off to a good enough start, handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson, who ran for 90 yards and a score:

But the offense fell apart the moment the team didn’t have 90 yards of open grass in front of it. The team tallied just 14 rushing yards outside that one run and failed to move the ball in all phases. Here are the team’s drives after that Peterson run:

  • Three plays, punt
  • Nine plays, field goal
  • Three plays, punt
  • Five plays, punt
  • Three plays, interception
  • Three plays, punt
  • Six plays, punt

Washington is only one game back of the 7-5 Cowboys, but its performance against the Eagles represents a bleak reality for the team. The Redskins entered the night desperately needing a win and left with a loss and down yet another quarterback. Barring a miracle run, this is where Washington’s once-promising season comes to a halt.

Even coach Jay Gruden appeared to throw in the towel with the decision to punt on the team’s final drive. With 3:16 left to play, a 15-point deficit, and his team facing fourth-and-24, Gruden gave the ball back to the Eagles, and then never saw it again. Of course it’s highly unlikely the Sanchez-led offense would’ve converted a fourth-and-24, much less drive the length of the field for a quick score. And it’s unlikely Washington would find a way to get the ball back again (either via an onside kick or a quick stop) and then score again. But at least that way there would have been a chance—Gruden chose not to give his team a chance by punting.

The coach accepted that this game—a must-win one—was lost. It feels like the season is now, too.