ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Third-and-long is more like third-and-forever for the Washington Redskins.
When Colt McCoy completed a 22-yard pass to Andre Roberts on third-and-10 late in the first half Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, it ended a streak of 38 failures in one of football's most adverse situations.
The Redskins are just 2 for 48 this season when it's third down with 10 or more yards to go. A roster that includes playmakers such as Robert Griffin III, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris has to point to the McCoy-Roberts connection and a Kirk Cousins-to-Ryan Grant pass in Week 2 as its only examples of success.
''It's a miserable position to be in,'' coach Jay Gruden told reporters this week, ''and I would welcome any one of you guys to call plays on third-and-14.''
It's indeed miserable, but it's not supposed to be next-to-impossible.
The NFL average on third-and-10-plus this season is 21.5 percent. The Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers top the league at 35.7 percent - converting more than one-third of the time. Even the Oakland Raiders, next-to-last in the category, are at 10.3 percent.
The Redskins' 2-for-48 effort works out to a meager 4.2. On the 46 times they didn't make it, they've had 16 complete passes, 16 incompletions, seven runs and seven sacks, according to STATS.
''Third-and-long is a hard down to convert on, no matter what offense you're playing in,'' McCoy said Wednesday. ''I think the thing you can help yourself with is not staying in third-and-longs all the time. I felt like in the first half (on Sunday), we just stayed in third-and-long, third-and-long, third-and-long.''
True, but it's not as if the Redskins (3-9) are incapable of producing a big gain. Jackson leads the NFL with 10 catches of 40-plus yards, and the team as a whole tops the league with 15 such plays.
It's just that none of those highlight-makers have come with lots of yards to go on third down. Another sobering stat: the Packers' and Chargers' third-and-10-plus success rate is better than the Redskins' 32.7 percent on third-and-anything.
Gruden and his players don't connect a specific theme to the third-and-long troubles. Simply put: All say they need to do better. Erratic quarterback play hasn't helped, with Gruden using three starters whose third-down passer ratings are 67.7 (Griffin), 46.4 (Cousins) and 88.7 (McCoy).
''Sometimes the play calls, I give us no chance. ... At other times, we've just got to make some plays,'' Gruden said. ''Quarterback has got to step up, move around and find some open receivers, and the receivers have got to do a good job of finding holes in zones. It's a grind of a down, but there's no reason we should be as bad as we are.''
One solution would be to get the ball to Garcon. He led the NFL with 113 catches last season and was second in the league with 32 third-down catches. This year, he has 49 receptions - and just two on third down.
Garcon hasn't done much to hide his frustration. After a 17-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago, he lamented the ''conservative'' game plan and was hardly enthused about a gadget play in which he threw a pass: ''I'm like, `This is where we've come?'''
McCoy, whose first pass this season went to Garcon for a touchdown, is fully aware that No. 88 needs to be more involved.
''We just have to be more aware of where Pierre is,'' McCoy said, ''how we can be creative in getting him the football.''
Meanwhile, Roberts, the recipient of the pass that ended the 0-for-38 streak, said the run of futility was more of a fluke than anything, adding: ''You don't expect to ever have 38 (of anything) where you don't get it.''
The catch helped set up a touchdown in the 49-27 defeat, but Roberts didn't feel like making a big deal of it.
''It would have helped if we won,'' he said.
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