So much for the cushion the Burgundy and Gold possessed just a few weeks ago at 6-3-1. The combination of the Thanksgiving turkey at Dallas and Sunday’s 31-23 loss at Arizona means the Skins once again enter the final quarter of the season on the outside of the playoff pack…and wouldn’t we have it any other way?  What is December without this team making a playoff push while needing multiple dominoes to fall?  Unless it’s one of those Decembers when disaster is in full bloom and a regime change is in the offing.

Destiny- over the last few weeks there’s been quite some talk about trying to “control one’s destiny”.  Let the record show that I understand that one does not “control” one’s destiny, our destiny controls us.  That is why I pledge until the end of time to say “control one’s path to the playoffs/postseason”.  You’re welcome and thank you.

Captain Kirk- the face of the franchise completed 21 of 37 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown…while losing a fumble and tossing an interception.  All without much of a running game to speak of…and against the leagues #1 defense overall and second best pass defense.  He played well…just not well enough.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent- Return of the Archons:  nice episode that somehow doesn’t stay with you as much as the others but still more than watchable.

Running in Circles- well, at least they gained more than 56 yards this week…even though the ground game failed to reach the century mark for the second straight game.  Robert Kelley’s 14 carries for 63 yards led the stable of backs-actually Chris Thompson’s 2 tries for 24 yards feels more like an accounting error than anything else.  With a defense that’s not exactly defending…it’s nice to be able to run more than 18 times over the course of a game.

Receiving Praise- I will admit I didn’t know how much Vernon Davis had left in the tank when he was signed in the offseason.  He felt like one of those guys (Larry Johnson) who the team picked up at the end of his career…only to see the player not last through final cuts.  He has more than enough left in the tank:  filling in for the injured Jordan Reed Davis tallied 5 catches for 47 yards.  Garcon will have more receptions and Jackson will have more yards, but Davis’ presence can be one that could power this team to the postseason.

Third and Just Not Good Enough- the Redskins converted 5 of 11 third downs, with almost half of those attempts needing seven yards or more.  The team went 2 for 3 on third and short (less than four yards needed) and 2 for 3 or third and medium (4-6 yards needed) but 1 for 5 on third and long.  Cousins completed 4 of 9 third down passes for 4 conversions while getting sacked once and running the ball himself for the other yardage marker-mover.  The top target?  Jermaine Crowder (4 targets with 1 catch & conversion) while Pierrer Garcon moved the sticks twice with both of his targets/receptions.

Defense Going from Decent to Dismal- three of the top four tacklers were defensive backs…already a bad sign.  A bad first drive where the Cardinals moved the ball 75 yards on 15 plays for a touchdown.  A last-minute drive in the first half that saw Arizona move 65 yards after the two-minute warning to kick a field goal.  Two more 75-yard drives in the second half to seal defeat.  The inability to stop Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson when it mattered cost the team Sunday, but at least they’re facing free-falling Philadelphia in week 13.

Kicking with Confidence-  Dustin Hopkins drilled field goals attempts of 20, 47 and 53 yards through the uprights (amazing what not having major glare in your face will do) while Tress Way averaged 44.5 yards per punt.  No kickoff returns and no major disasters from a return or coverage standpoint on punts.  Move along…

Flying Flags- seven penalties for 35 yards.  Definitely not ideal, but at least they got off with the bare minimum of yardage per infraction.  Four of the five offensive penalties were false starts (illegal shift the outlier);  the team’s 23 this season are the most in the NFL.  Two of those false starts were against Shaun Lauvao…giving him four for the year.  The defensive penalties were offsides (Kerrigan) and holding (Norman- his 15 flags this fall lead the team).  Most costly infraction?  A tie between false starts from Vernon Davis and Lauvao on the opening drive that turned a 2nd & 1 into a 2nd & 11.  Even in the desert, when it rains…

Dissecting the Division-  Dallas (11-1) after their 17-15 win over Minnesota clinched a playoff berth when the Redskins lost and now is on the precipice of wrapping up the NFC East.  A win plus a Seattle loss locks up home field advantage for the playoffs.  The New York Giants’ six game winning streak ended with a 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh;  at 8-4 they still own the #1 wildcard spot.  The Redskins (6-5-1) slip one half game behind Tampa BAy for the final playoff berth in the conference.  Philadelphia?  The 32-14 loss at Cincinnati drops the Eagles to 5-7…and after starting September hot this team has cooled down to the tune of seven losses in nine games.  They’re currently in 12th place of the NFC.

West now Best- with three losses Sunday, the NFC East (30-17-1) fell behind the AFC West (32-16) in the race for best composite divisional record.  They hang a banner for that, right?  The AFC North (18-29-1) suffers from having Cleveland in their quartet-but Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are 3-7-1 against the NFC this fall.