LANDOVER - After a sloppy 33-26 loss to the two-win Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins fullback Darrel Young wasn't even sure if he was willing to speak to the media. In a game that more closely contested than perhaps it should have been, it was his holding penalty on what looked to be the game-tying 59-yard touchdown run by Brandon Banks that he believes is the reason Washington is now 5-10 on the season.
"It's a bad play," he said of the call, "and I cost the team the game. I just got to overcome it."
It was another mistake prone, turnover-laced affair for the home team, one that dropped the Redskins record at FedEx Field to 2-6 for the season.
There were, however, a few bright spots.
For one, rookie sixth round draft pick Evan Royster rushed for 132 yards on 19 carries, nearly a seven-yard average. His game marked the first time two Redskins rookie running backs have rushed for 100 or more yards in a single season.
"I was pretty happy with how I played," he said afterward.
Royster was given the nod over fellow rookie Roy Helu because of injury. "I was excited to finally get my first start and actually get to carry a little bit of a load."
The Redskins offense continued the momentum they've built over the last few weeks, posting a 20-plus point day for the fourth time in the last five weeks. The other offensive star was receiver Jabar Gaffney, who finished the game with 77 receiving yards on six catches, including a one handed grab for a touchdown in the third quarter.
"It was a hell of a catch," Rex Grossman said.
Gaffney has become the team's leading receiver and tied a career high with five touchdown catches for the season. "I tried to put it in a spot where only he could get it, and he was able to do it."
Despite the point total, they were unable to outscore the Vikings, who had to put in their backup running back in Toby Gerhart and quarterback Joe Webb due to injuries sustained to the starters. Instead of thriving in that situation, the Redskins floundered, allowing touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second half.
"You can't look at it like that [taking advantage of backups]," Barry Cofield said. "We've had backups playing all year and we expect those guys to produce."
"Realistically, the dynamic of the game changes when you bring in Webb, [with] the things he can do with running the option and all those things. Obviously that changes things. In reality, it's still nuts and bolts tackling, and fitting in gaps."
Other members of the defense agreed.
"I want to applaud our offense," said Brian Orakpo. "They did a good job keeping us in the game. But defensively it's unacceptable [to allow them] to run the ball on us like that."
The Redskis defense, which was stingy in last week's 23-10 victory over the New York Giants, yielded 241 rushing yards, 109 of them to Gerhart, Adrian Peterson's backup.
"The big runs hurt," Cofield said. "They ruin your season statistically. They ruin the game. They're just a big let down. We felt like we were prepared."
Inconsistency is something the Redskins have had a tough time mastering in 2011. One week they look like they are on the uptick, and the next they go back to being a floundering team. It's a sure sign of a group still learning how to win.
"Guys are fighting hard," Orakpo said. "We don't have any issues. Guys play for each other. We got a great coaching staff. We got an owner that's doing everything possible to win. We just gotta be optimistic."
"Obviously, 5-10 is a terrible season to have. But I'm a very optimistic guy and I just want to keep building and get this organization on top eventually."
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