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Opportunity slips through Redskins' fingers

| Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, 8:08 p.m.
The Steelers' Will Allen separates the Redskins' Santana Moss from the ball in the fourth quarter Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, at Heinz Field. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Dropped passes are not an official statistic recognized by the NFL. That doesn't lessen the effect they can have on an offense.

Just ask the Washington Redskins.

The Redskins dropped 10 passes — many in critical situations — that crippled rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III to the point where the once-dynamic offense produced its fewest yards of the season in a 27-12 loss to the Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field.

“It's been a long time since I've had a game like this relative to that many opportunities that you didn't take advantage of when guys were open,” Washington coach Mike Shanahan said. “I was disappointed. You can't have that many drops that we had and keep drives going. We had some opportunities, had some potential for a number of big plays.”

Instead, Washington's offense sputtered more than it has all season.

The Redskins rushed for 86 yards, passed for 169, gained 255 yards and scored just 12 points.

A lot of that can be blamed on the drops.

“It is very frustrating,” fullback Darrel Young said. “I know my drop was a lack of focus trying to make a play before I had the ball.”

Drops hadn't been an issue for the Redskins, as they came into the game with 11 drops in 198 attempts. Against the Steelers, they almost equaled that number in 34 attempts. The only receiver who had more than one drop entering the game was Aldrick Robinson with two.

“It ain't something that you are going to sit and say this is why and that is why,” receiver Santana Moss said. “All you can do is to try to get better.”

One of the most egregious drops came late in the first quarter when Griffin hit Leonard Hankerson in stride heading into the end zone. Six plays later, Moss dropped one that hit him in his hands.

The Redskins scored their only touchdown of the game during the series, but it took a fourth-down conversion to do so.

“Whether we have to catch balls off the Jugs machine all week, we have to do something better,” Young said. “The conditions weren't good, but you still have to make those plays.”

Griffin, who had led the league in completion percentage at 70.4 percent, said he will look at the film to see if his ball placement was off, potentially leading to the drops.

“I don't care where the placement is,” Shanahan said. “As long as it hits your hand, you better catch it or else you won't be in the National Football League for very long.”

Griffin said the drops did not affect him.

“I think the main thing you tell them is that I'm going to come back to them no matter what happens, and I need them to make plays for me,” Griffin said. “If I made a bad pass, the coaches aren't going to stop calling passing plays. I know when I mess up and they know when they mess up. We just have to make sure we don't continually mess up.”

Moss said he believed drops aren't something that will hinder the team.

“We'll get over it,” he said. “That's life. It isn't always going to be peaches and cream.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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