LANDOVER - Going into Sunday's match up with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Redskins knew what this game meant. It represented a chance to cushion their lead on the rest of the division while simultaneously burying one of their talented but flawed rivals in the Eagles.
That opportunity alone may have made Sunday's 20-13 defeat all the more disappointing.
When asked if losing to the now resurgent Eagles was seen as a missed chance, defensive captain London Fletcher answered simply: "Definitely."
"We would have liked to get another game up in our division," he continued. "In the first half, we didn't play well enough."
Indeed, the Redskins had a tough start, yielding the game's first 20 points before going into halftime trailing 20-3. The explosive Philadelphia offense struck time and again, as Michael Vick and company flexed their muscle by scoring on touchdowns by tight end Brent Celek and speedy tailback LeSean McCoy.
It was the Redskins defense, believed to be the strength of the team, that had no answers in the first half for one of the more dynamic offenses in the league.
"We just weren't executing," safety Laron Landry said. "We were playing real lackadaisical and we needed to buckle down."
Brian Orakpo was more specific as to why the defense had a slow start to the game.
"The short and medium stuff kept adding up to McCoy every time," he explained. "It gets a little frustrating because they have such big time receivers, and when you watch film they usually throw it down field - all of a sudden you are getting hit with 5 yard [and] 7 yard passes, it just kept adding up."
Despite the team's defensive struggles, it will be what happened on offense that could have a lingering effect the rest of the season.
The first major development came when left guard Kory Lichtensteiger suffered an injury to his right knee, tearing his ACL and likely ending his season.
"When Kory went down, it really hurt," center Will Montgomery said. "He's a really good friend of mine, [we] trained all offseason and he means a lot to this offense."
Enter Erik Cook, the backup center who then had to come in, moving Montgomery to left guard. Asa result, the offensive line as a whole was unable to gain any rhythm in the run game, something the Redskins were hoping to establish against the NFL's third worst rush defense in Philadelphia.
"It seems like we couldn't get into that rhythm for one reason or another," Montgomery said afterward. "I don't know why. "
Later in the game, another injury was sustained by left tackle Trent Williams, who suffered a high ankle sprain that looks to sideline him for a few weeks.
Offensive line woes aside, the biggest development of Sunday's game happened in the second half, when quarterback Rex Grossman threw his third and fourth interceptions of the contest, leading to what many thought could be possible - his benching for backup John Beck.
Grossman was benched near the start of the fourth quarter, as head coach Mike Shanahan was desperately looking for a change in momentum.
"We needed a spark," Shanahan said. "John's been practicing very well the last couple of weeks, and with four turnovers there we thought it was time to make a change and give John an opportunity to show what he can do."
Beck showed what he can do when he completed 8 of 15 passes for 117 yards and a rushing score, inching his team closer, but not close enough.
"It was good to play to be honest," Beck said afterward. "But I have this sick feeling after a loss."
The question going forward is the obvious one - who will start next week's game against the Carolina Panthers?
"I would never anounced that right after a game," Shanahan said of the quarterback situation. "I will announce that later in the week after we make a decision after we watch the film."
After his abysmal day, Grossman didn't sound like a quarterback who's certain of his status going forward.
"I'm worried about getting better," he said. "I'm worried about my job, and if I'm not there i want to play extremely well."
The Redskins will now head into a week of plenty of uncertainty. They must figure out how to recalibrate their now banged up offensive line, regain confidence from a very disappointing loss, and last but not least, figure out who their starting quarterback is going forward.
"We're fine," Orakpo said of the state of the team. "We're not concerned with the record. We got a lot of football left. This is one [game] we dropped in our conference and we got plenty more left."