Redskins squander another late lead

Tomlinson's TD in OT sends team to 3rd straight loss

Chargers 23 Redskins 17

Nfl Gameday

Nfl Week 12


LANDOVER -- For the third week in a row, the Washington Redskins gave away a second-half lead and more ground on their fading playoff hopes.

A 41-yard touchdown run by San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson in overtime sent Washington to a 23-17 defeat before 84,930 at FedEx Field, the team's sixth loss in its past eight contests.

San Diego improved to 7-4 and gave coach Marty Schottenheimer a win in his first game back in Washington since he was fired by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder after the 2001 season.

The Chargers scored the game's final 16 points -- including 10 in the fourth quarter.

Washington dropped to 5-6 and is now ninth in the race for the NFC's six postseason berths.

"At some point, maybe we can win," said Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington, who has watched his team lose 19 games by seven points or fewer over the past three seasons.

"I don't know why we let games like this get away from us. ... This one's got me confused. We're just letting them get away, the same way, over and over again."

Added cornerback Shawn Springs: "We're finding a way to mess it up. Not to discredit the other teams in the NFL, but we've played well enough to beat all of them -- Tampa, San Diego, Oakland. We're messing it up. We can't do anything but blame ourselves."

Unlike setbacks to the Buccaneers and the Raiders, however, Washington had a chance to win at the end of regulation after Springs intercepted Chargers quarterback Drew Brees and returned it 2 yards to the Chargers' 31-yard line with 64 seconds left in the game.

But after a 6-yard run by running back Clinton Portis, a holding penalty on center Casey Rabach on the ensuing play moved the Redskins back to the 35. Two fruitless plays later, kicker John Hall's 52-yard field-goal attempt fell short and wide right, and the game went into overtime.

"I didn't make it, and the end result was that we lost," said Hall, who hasn't converted a 50-yard field goal since Oct. 12, 2003. "I'll take that one on my shoulders."

Said quarterback Mark Brunell: "That was a gift. ... That penalty hurt us."

San Diego, which won the coin toss in overtime and elected to receive, needed just two plays, capped by Tomlinson's burst through the left side of the line just 34 seconds into the extra period.

"There are times when he gets going, and there is a penetrating power about his inside running that a lot of people don't recognize," Schottenheimer said of Tomlinson, who rushed for 184 yards on 25 carries and scored all three Chargers touchdowns. "You see it, and you marvel at what he can do. ...

"I think with a certainty, in my opinion, he is the finest running back that I have ever seen."

Tomlinson was the only San Diego player to hurt Washington, which intercepted and sacked Brees three times each and limited All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates to just three catches for 39 yards.

The problem was the offense, which continued to struggle to post points and yards.

After running back Rock Cartwright's 13-yard touchdown run gave the Redskins a 17-7 advantage with 3:14 left in the third quarter, four of the offense's five possessions in the fourth quarter ended in punts and three were the dreaded three-and-outs.

"We are trying to do everything we can to try and move the ball," said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, whose offense has managed fewer than 300 yards and 20 points in the past two weeks.

"We wanted to take an approach today that we wanted to be able to stay after the run, and I think we did that."

Notes -- Redskins defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin returned from a hip injury to play in his first game in four weeks. But fellow tackle Joe Salave'a, who has been battling plantar fasciitis, left the game in the third quarter with a foot injury. His status for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams is unknown. ... Moss' 22-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter earned the receiver his second 1,000-yard season in three years. ... Tomlinson yesterday went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the fifth straight year. That achievement puts him in a group of only six backs, including Barry Sanders and Eric Dickerson, who have rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of their first five

Redskins@Rams Sunday, 4:05 p.m., Ch. 5, 1430 AM, 106.7 FM Line: Off the board

San Diego 0 7 0 10 6 -- 23

Washington 3 7 7 0 0 -- 17

First quarter Was--FG Hall 38, 5:22.

Second quarter SD--Tomlinson 1 run (Kaeding kick), 10:31. Was--Moss 22 pass from Brunell (Hall kick), 7:23.

Third quarter Was--Cartwright 13 run (Hall kick), 3:14.

Fourth quarter SD--FG Kaeding 48, 14:08. SD--Tomlinson 32 run (Kaeding kick), 3:29.

Overtime SD--Tomlinson 41 run, 14:26. A--84,930.

SD Was

First downs 24 15

Total Net Yards 397 282

Rushes-yards 28-202 33-91

Passing 195 191

Punt Returns 5-32 1-3

Kickoff Returns 5-128 4-59

Interceptions Ret. 0-0 3-16

Comp-Att-Int 22-45-3 17-27-0

Sacked-Yards Lost 3-20 2-3

Punts 6-38.3 9-37.9

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-0

Penalties-Yards 6-40 7-60

Time of Possession 30:47 29:47

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