Josh Johnson played mistake-free football last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars and for three quarters and a half, he did the same against the Tennessee Titans Saturday. That is until a crucial third down pass ended up in the hands of Titans Kevin Byard’s hands, crushing the Redskins’ playoffs hopes in the process.
Trailing 19-16 in the fourth quarter with just over a minute remaining, Johnson felt pressure on a 3rd-and-3 from just inside Tennessee territory. He had Josh Doctson running down the seam against a cover-2 look, but Johnson threw off his back leg and the pass sailed over Doctson’s head right into Byard’s possession.
It was his first turnover since becoming the Redskins’ starting quarterback which spanned two games. And it came at the worst time.
The Redskins scored on the game’s opening drive behind a 50-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins. While the lead changed hands with a Derrick Henry touchdown on Tennessee’s first drive, the Redskins gained control of the game with a 17-play, 93-yard touchdown that lasted 10:58 minutes to start the second quarter at 10-6. Johnson was 6-of-6 passing on the drive for 70 yards and overcame an 3rd-and-14 with a 22-yard pass to Josh Doctson on the drive.
Washington then got what seemed like an assist as Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered a stinger in his throwing arm on a Jonathan Allen sack just before halftime, as they nursed a 10-9 lead.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 119 yards on 26 carries, surpassing Eric Dickerson for eighth all-time in the NFL in rushing yards. Before Saturday, the Redskins were 7-0 when they scored first and Peterson had 17 or more carries. However, Titans backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert was 7-of-11 passing for 101 yards and the go-ahead touchdown with 4:30 remaining.
For everything Johnson had meant for the Redskins and their playoff hopes since replacing the benched Mark Sanchez two weeks ago against the New York Giants, it all became forgotten on a poorly thrown pass in the fourth quarter.
The interception prevented Johnson from his second game-winning drive in consecutive weeks. He would go on to throw a pick-six to Malcolm Butler on a desperation lob with six seconds remaining from the Redskins-15 yard line, but that was an afterthought to a game that was already decided.
Johnson finished the game 13-of-23 for 153 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Johnson and the Redskins will now have to regroup and hope for even more hope from other teams to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.