The officials definitely didn’t help the Redskins in the 4th quarter of their 24-17 loss to the New York Giants… a defeat that eliminated the 2012 NFC East champs from playoff contention.  But neither did an offense that failed to convert its previous 6 third down attempts…or a defense that coughed up a 2-minute drive right before the end of the first half…or a special teams unit that remains far from special.  What’s obvious is the Skins got hosed on thinking 3rd and inches was 1st and ten…but also that they shouldn’t have been in that situation.  After last year’s progress, the Burgundy and Gold in theory shouldn’t be in this situation…eliminated after 12 games.  But two of the other teams no longer in contention also won their divisions last year–and one held home field advantage in the NFC (Atlanta).  The NFL truly does stand for “Not For Long” if everything isn’t running right, and over the next month the speculation about the current regime in Ashburn will be a topic visited early and often.

RG3ver– the tale of two halves disease now hits the face of the franchise…: 16-17 with a touchdown before intermission, 8-15 after the break.  And it wasn’t as though he was tossing deep darts– Griffin averaged 8.6 yards per completion.  That’s Mark Brunell territory.  RG3 did make things happen with his legs, running 12 times for 88 yards…but was sacked 5 times on the night.  That’s passive pass protection.

Alfred the Afterthought– The second half squelching of the ground game’s meal ticket continues:  9 carries in the first half, followed by 2 attempts in the second half–and no tries after the team’s first possession of the third quarter.  In the four game losing streak, Morris has carried the ball an average of 14 times in the first half and 4.5 times after intermission.  Evan Royster (?) even got more play on third down than Morris–and for the record, Royster’s Mickey from the “Miss Bliss” season. It’s almost as though Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s tempting me to search for more obscure Bell references.  Game on, buddy.  Morris is being written for like Zack during the “Miss Bliss” season when the wacky teacher breaks up with her boyfriend and moves in with Miss Bliss–driving Hayley Mills and the viewing audience equally crazy.

Garcon Gets Grabs…except for that one– Peerless Pierre once again leads the team in receiving with 9 catches…but for only 61 yards (less than 7 yards a catch is not going to move the chains).  And there was the catch that would have moved the chains–if he only had hung onto it instead of fumbling it away.

Davis is back…and that’s not a great thing– Minus Jordan Reed, Fred Davis saw time for the second straight week… notching 2 catches for 13 yards.  But it was a reception that wasn’t that haunts the team–a drop on 3rd and inches that they thought was 1st and 10.

Third and Aggravating– the Skins went 5 of 16 moving the chains… misfiring on their last seven attempts.  RG3 went 7-11 but only four conversions…was sacked twice and scrambled once.  Two of the 14 plays were planned runs:  RG3 left end for 5 on a 3rd & 1…and Evan Royster ran for no gain on 3rd & 1.  No middle ground Sunday night:  the team went 2-6 on short yardage (1-3 needed)…and 3-10 on long yardage (7+).  Over the four game losing streak, over half of the Skins’ third down attempts have been by 7 yards or more (they’re 33% while converting 50% of 3rd downs less than 7 yards during that span).

What do you grade the D?– this should be easy:  they held the Giants to just 80 yards rushing…intercepted Eli Manning once (Brandon Merriweather) while sacking him three times and held the NYG to just 4-13 on third down.  Brian Orakpo notched 2 sacks while Perry Riley (9 solo 2 assists) and London Fletcher (8 solo 4 assists) posted double digits in tackles…it’s always good in the 3-4 when your linebackers are making more stops than your defensive backs (see last week).  But when they needed to make a stop at the end of the first half– the D allowed the Giants to travel 81 yards over 2:59 to tie the game.  And when the Giants had anything close to a short field in the second half, they got points.  And while the defense moves up to 23rd in total yardage and 14th against the run…they’re still 28th against the pass and 31st in points allowed.

Flying Flags– 8 penalties for 55 yards…with 6 in the second half and three on three consecutive plays.  Two false starts and two unsportsmanlike penalties plus one delay of game that involved the QB–and another that involved a wideout kicking the football.  Did they hurt?  Fred Davis’ first quarter False Start turned a 1st and 10 into a 1st and 15 hole they’d never climb out of…while RG3’s second quarter Delay of Game came right before his TD pass to Logan Paulsen.  The trio of flags in the third quarter effectively torpedoed a possession:  Will Montgomery’s Hold wiped out a 6 yard run by Alfred Morris…taking away a first down and creating a 2nd and 16, Santana Moss’ Unsportsmanlike Conduct pushed the Skins back past midfield to their own 40 (but don’t worry, Moss also held on the play), while Nick Barnett’s False Start on fourth down was merely window dressing.  Pierre Garcon’s Delay of Game drop-kick only moved a field goal attempt from 28 to 33 yards.  Kyle Nelson’s hold on a punt moved the Giants from their own 44 to the Redskin 46…jumpstarting the go-ahead drive and DeAngelo Hall’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct was  a half the distance deal that the Giants scored immediately after.  What’s distressing is that three veteran leaders committed the “conduct” penalties…as frustration is bubbling from the inside of the Burgundy and Gold.

Cobra Kai– two for two on extra points and a wobbly 33-yard field goal attempt that made Mr. Forbath look as shaky as Billy Zabka in “Just One of the Guys”…the bully who wore a vest and fingerless gloves while really threatening nobody (Joyce Hyser disguised as a Fonzie-soundalike beat him up).

Dissecting the Division– wins by Dallas and Philadelphia keep the Cowboys and Eagles tied atop the NFC East…with the Cowboys win earlier this year providing the tiebreaker.  Dallas gets the 4th seed because of their loss to Detroit…and Philly owns 7th place thanks to their win over Arizona this past weekend.  The NY Giants remain annoyingly around in 11th place of the NFC (better conference record than St. Louis) with a two game cushion over the last place Redskins… who thanks to a worse conference record than Atlanta and Tampa Bay own the sour 16th spot in the conference.

West is Best…with a Bang– as if there was any remaining doubt, the NFC West rules the roost in 2013 with a 31-17 mark (AFC West second best at 28-20…but on a 4-8 slide).  The AFC South continues its hold on last place at 18-30…with the NFC East and North in a virtual tie (22-26 to 21-25-2).  Another huge development is the interconference showdown:  the NFC goes on an 11-1 run over the last month to go from down 23-19 to up 30-24.