Monday's roundup: Washington's playoff hopes take hit with loss

The Detroit News

Landover, Md. — Kirk Cousins and Washington had their easiest path to the playoffs in front of them and they gave it away with another Monday night flop.

Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert (35) rolls over Washington outside linebacker Martrell Spaight (50) for a touchdown during the second half Monday. Carolina won 26-15.

Cousins (Michigan State) threw an interception and lost a fumble near his goal line, and Washington lost control of its playoff future with a 26-15 loss to the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers.

Washington (7-6-1) could have clinched a playoff berth by winning its final three games but now needs help. Carolina (6-8) kept its astronomical wild-card hopes alive and dealt a serious blow to Washington’s chances with two weeks left in the season.

“We didn’t get it done,” said wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who had seven catches for 111 yards. “Obviously it’s frustrating because we knew what we had at stake, we knew what we had on our hands and we can’t really talk about playoffs until we handle who we need to handle and play better.”

After being picked off by Kurt Coleman in the first half to set up a Carolina field goal, Cousins was sacked by Wes Horton and fumbled on the first snap after halftime as the Panthers took over at the 1-yard line. They scored two plays later to take a 20-9 lead.

Cousins finished 32 of 47 for 316 yards with far too many missed throws in a game with such high stakes. Cousins and coach Jay Gruden were at a loss to explain how the usually high-powered offense sputtered at such a key moment.

“We just never got any kind of rhythm whatsoever throughout the whole game,” said Gruden, referencing his team going 2 for 12 on third down. “Part of it was the running game was atrocious, part of it was we had no deep passing game and then the other part: Carolina was very good today.”

Reigning league MVP Cam Newton showed no ill effects from a shoulder injury suffered last week, throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns.

“He took a little bit of a shot early on, but when he came to the sideline and had a chance to take a breath he was ready to roll,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said.

The Panthers took advantage of blunders by Washington, which lost its sixth consecutive Monday night home game. It was Washington’s most lopsided loss since being routed 38-16 by Pittsburgh in the season opener, also on a Monday night.

“We didn’t play well enough to win,” Cousins said. “Just didn’t make enough plays.”

Coughlin in mix for Jags' job

The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to their past to potentially find their future head coach.

General manager Dave Caldwell said that former Giants coach Tom Coughlin “would be somebody we’d be interested in talking to” about the team’s coaching vacancy.

The Jaguars (2-12) fired Gus Bradley after the franchise’s ninth consecutive loss Sunday. Bradley went 14-48 in four seasons in Jacksonville, the worst winning percentage (.225) of any NFL coach with at least 60 games.

The 70-year-old Coughlin was Jacksonville’s first head coach, leading the Jaguars to a 68-60 record in eight seasons (1995-2002). Coughlin resigned last January after 12 seasons with the Giants, but has made it clear he wants to return to the NFL. He is currently serving as a senior adviser to the league’s football operations department.

Caldwell could give him a shot at getting back on the sidelines.

“Tom’s a great man and a great person, and we’ll see where it goes,” Caldwell said. “There will be a lot of guys we’re interested in talking to.”

Coughlin won two Super Bowls with the Giants and led them to the playoffs in four consecutive seasons (2005-08).

Extra points

Browns coach Hue Jackson is sticking with Robert Griffin III as his starting quarterback despite Cleveland’s 0-14 start.

Jackson had considered changes following Sunday’s 33-13 loss in Buffalo, the Browns’ sixth straight by double digits. However, Jackson said Monday that Griffin showed more improvement in his second start since Sept. 11.

Jackson said he won’t hesitate to make a switch in Saturday’s home game against San Diego and that he wants to get another look at rookie Cody Kessler, who made eight starts while Griffin recovered from a broken shoulder bone.


... Tom Savage will start at quarterback for the Texans on Saturday against the Bengals.

After Brock Osweiler was benched in the second quarter Sunday, Savage threw for 260 yards to help Houston rally from a 13-point deficit for a 21-20 win over Jacksonville in his first regular-season action since 2014.

... A torn finger ligament could keep Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor out of Cleveland’s final two games.

Pryor was hurt in Sunday’s 33-13 loss to the Bills.

Coach Jackson said Monday that Pryor’s ability to play through pain will determine whether he’ll be on the field for Saturday’s home game against San Diego. Pryor needs surgery after the season, a person familiar with the injury said.

... Titans defensive lineman Karl Klug has a torn left Achilles tendon and will have season-ending surgery.

Klug strained his Achilles in Tennessee’s 13-10 win over Denver on Dec. 11 but was able to practice late last week.

Coach Mike Mularkey says tight end Phillip Supernaw and safety Da’Norris Searcy both are in the concussion protocol.

... Veteran receiver Eddie Royal will miss the Bears’ final two games because of a toe injury.

He will become the 18th Bears player on injured reserve.

... The Colts put defensive tackle Art Jones (groin) on injured reserve, ending his season.

Defensive end Kristjan Sokoli was promoted from the practice squad, and outside linebacker Lavar Edwards was signed to the practice squad.

... The Jets signed linebacker Randell Johnson from the Rams’ practice squad after waiving linebacker Arthur Brown.