Dustin Hopkins felt sick to his stomach after he missed a field goal early in the fourth quarter that would have changed the complexion of the game.
Kicker Dustin Hopkins stood by his locker and spoke as though he had lost the Redskins the entire game. After watching his counterpoint Dan Bailey boot the 54-yard game winner for Dallas, the stomach-churning 19-16 loss to the Cowboys had a glaring three-point deficit he knew didn't have to be there.
Never mind the frantic punt return from DeSean Jackson that turned into a fumble that turned into a quick Cowboys touchdown. Never mind all the penalties prior that halted drives. To Hopkins, the game rested on his missed field goal in the fourth quarter, a 43-yarder he pushed just to the right of the goal post.
"I felt smooth but I just hit a straight ball. Just right down the hash," Hopkins said. "So I guess I just didn't come through quite fast enough. But it was clean and I just slipped right."
The Redskins were leading 9-6 at the time and a field goal would have given them their largest lead of the game.
"That whole game would change had I made that field goal," Hopkins said. "We wouldn't have had to been desperate to try and get a great return. A lot of things would have been different. I think as a team we would have played a lot better.
"All the blame should fall on me. Our line has done a great job all year. Nick [Sundberg] and Tress [Way] have done a great job all year. I get paid to make kicks. I didn't do that tonight. It makes me sick to my stomach to let the team down, to let Washington down, to let the ownership down. But that's kind of the life of a kicker."
Before Bailey sealed the win and after Jackson had momentarily redeemed himself with a game-tying touchdown, Hopkins also missed an opportunity to plant the Cowboys at their own 20-yard line.
After booming a few kicks out of the end zone in the third quarter, he couldn't nullify a return when it was needed the most. Lucky Whitehead caught the ball two yards deep and ran the ball 46 yards to the Dallas 44-yard line to give them ideal field position.
"There's a lot of things I can do better that I didn't tonight," Hopkins said.
Hopkins lamented on the negatives and neglected the positives, namely that he had made his previous three field goal attempts, from 45, 36 and 46, respectively.
The miss was just his third of the season (one was blocked against the Giants last week) and he has largely fulfilled everything that has been asked of him since replacing Kai Forbath after the season opener.
"I realize that's football. I've been on the good side of that and the bad side of that," Hopkins said. "I just believe in taking ownership for what happened, and I didn't make my kicks that I should have made."
Nobody passed blame in the Redskins locker room following the defeat though.
"Everybody could have done something different," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "You just can't single guys out. It's tough on him right now, but we just can't single guys out. It's a team sport. No individual has ever lost a game."
Hopkins understands that. He also knows there's still room for improvement. He'd just prefer victories to soften the blows like the ones on Monday night.
"I don't think you forget about it. I think you learn from it. I learn from makes, but I definitely learn a lot more from misses. I think the same can be said for losses," Hopkins said. "We don't want to learn anymore because I want to learn from wins, and everyone else in this locker room does."