Rock Cartwright is one of the Redskins' unsung standouts. He's among the top kickoff returners in the NFL and makes clutch tackles on punt and kick returns.
With a nose for the football, he pulls off critical plays like an onsides kick recovery that set up a drive ending with a field goal in a 23-20 win over the Jets on Nov. 5.
But Cartwright would hear none of that after the Redskins' maddening 33-25 loss to the Eagles on Sunday.
Like many of his teammates in a somber post-game locker room at FedExField, he was grasping for answers in front of a crowd of reporters as to why the offense had to twice settle for field goals after moving the ball a few yards from the Eagles' goal line in the second half.
Or, as he and other Redskins put it, why they couldn't "finish."
"We were in the red zone on the 2-yard line, and we can't get the ball in, that's telling you something," said Cartwright, his face exuding frustration and his voice rising steadily. "Two times, so what is that saying? Why can't we finish, what are we not doing? It's unexplainable, it doesn't make any sense.
"We've just got to score points, that's what it boils down to. We need seven points instead of three. If you look at it, we score 14 points instead of six, the game is over in the fourth quarter.
"We've got to find a way to put the ball in the end zone. That's the bottom line. No gray area, just black and white--score seven points."
Cartwright continued to sound peeved when asked about the Redskins' shaky clock management--they used their last timeout with 8:09 left in the game--and the penalties at inopportune times near the opponent's goal line.
In one case, tight end Chris Cooley was whistled for a false start, pushing the ball back five yards before a Shaun Suisham chip shot field goal provided a 25-20 lead with 4:20 left in the game.
"You've got to execute under pressure," Cartwright said. "If you don't execute under pressure, you won't win football games. And that's what we didn't do today. We let them score. We didn't score. So what are we doing wrong? Where do we need to go? What do we need to do?
"Do I need to do more? If I can do more, let me do more. Tell me what else I need to do, and I'll do it. Anything to win football games. It doesn't matter how you win, you've got to win football games, and you've got to score points."
Cartwright, now in his sixth year in the NFL, already does a lot. The reserve running back is in his second season as the Redskins' main kickoff returner.
Before the Eagles game, he led the NFC and stood fifth in the league in kickoff return average at 28.7 yards, so often giving the offense solid field position. He averaged only 23.5 yards on six kickoff returns against the Eagles and was self-critical of his performance afterward.
Last August, Cartwright was named the Redskins' 2006 special teams player of the year at the annual Welcome Home Luncheon after a season when he set a team record with 1,541 kickoff returns yards.
Despite losing to the Eagles, the 5-4 Redskins are still in the playoff hunt, and Cartwright knows everyone at Redskins Park must quickly shelve the disappointment and focus on upsetting the 8-1 Cowboys next Sunday.
The last time Cartwright was at Texas Stadium, he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, but the Cowboys dominated the game 27-10.
"We've got a huge game in Dallas, they're playing great football right now," he said. "We know it's going to be hard to get a win, but we've got to go down there and play Redskin football."