London Fletcher takes it personally when the Redskins' defense simply isn't playing at its best.
He said that was the case Sunday, as St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford at times had his way against the Redskins' defense, and Washington fell 31-28 in front of 53,979 fans at the Edward Jones Dome.
Bradford had a strong day throwing against the Redskins' zone defensive scheme, connecting on 26-of-35 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
"You know what, defensively, we didn't play well enough to win," Fletcher said. "I take responsibility for that as a captain of the defense, and I don't feel good about that.
"That's on me."
Fletcher took the blame, but the 15-year veteran made two key plays in the second half that could have turned the tide for the Redskins (1-1), picking off a Bradford pass in the end zone and then causing a fumble late in the game that set up a potential game-tying or go-ahead drive.
"That was exciting," outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "I thought for sure this one was supposed to be for us after that fumble."
But that drive ended for the Redskins when kicker Billy Cundiff's game-tying 62-yard field goal attempt fell short, allowing the Rams to run out the clock and earn their first victory of the season.
"It was a tough loss, especially when you work so hard to become 2-0," Kerrigan said. "And just to have it slip away like that, it really stinks."
Overall, the Rams (1-1) had 452 total yards of offense and gained 7.1 yards per offensive play, despite just 58 yards rushing from Steven Jackson.
The Redskins struggled to contain Rams receiver Danny Amendola, who caught 15 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown.
"They did a really good job picking up the blitz, and [Bradford] did a good job getting the ball out of his hands," Kerrigan said. "I think that's what he did really well all afternoon was getting the ball out of his hands quickly and not allowing us to get back there."
Fletcher said Sunday's game can be an early learning experience for a talented Redskins defense, which faces another stiff challenge in Cincinnati Bengals second-year quarterback Andy Dalton next Sunday at FedExField.
"We need to be hard on ourselves," Fletcher said. "We have to look at the film, see what mistakes we made and come back and be ready to play next week."