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Redskins' Defense Unable To Make The Big Play

Here's an exclusive look from the Washington Redskins' sideline during their Week 6 game with the Arizona Cardinals.

Entering Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden stressed the importance of his team needing to make more "splash plays" in order to gain momentum towards the end of close games.

Against the Cardinals on Sunday, the Redskins found themselves in another battle -- and within striking distance in the final minutes.

Check out the top photos from the Washington Redskins' Week 6 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

But, once again, the game-changing plays eluded Washington's defense, who saw Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer escape danger play after play, as the Cardinals came away with a 30-20 victory over the Redskins.

"We didn't get any turnovers," Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said when asked about the difference in the game. "We had a couple sacks, but they were late in the game, and I think that's plain and simple the difference. They were able to be more effective than us."

In the days leading up to the game, the Redskins (1-5) weren't sure which one of three quarterbacks would be under center for the Cardinals.

Palmer, the veteran starter, had missed the team's previous three games with an injury to his throwing shoulder, while backup Drew Stanton was knocked out of last week's game against the Denver Broncos with a concussion, leaving quarterback duties to rookie Logan Thomas.

The Redskins stressed all week that they were preparing for the overall Arizona offensive scheme – and not on any particular quarterback. But news broke prior to the game that Palmer, a Pro Bowler, was likely going to be returning on Sunday; and when that came to fruition against Washington, the Cardinals played like a team that didn't skip a beat.

Overall, Palmer completed 28-of-44 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

"He played it exactly like they wanted him to," Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy said of Palmer. "He sat in the pocket for the most part and took some late shorts, but he was able to deliver the ball before he took the shot. We just got to work a little harder, be able to be a step faster and get there."

Which brings back the Redskins' inability to make big plays when it counted. On third down Sunday, the Cardinals converted on 7-of-17 tries (41 percent), while the Redskins' offense converted just 2-of-10 third-down plays into first downs.

Kerrigan, who finished the game with 1.5 sacks to extend his team lead on the season to 7.5, said the Cardinals were able to find their playmakers during critical junctures of the game.

"We didn't get enough pressure on (Palmer) and he was able to make a lot of throws," Kerrigan said. "And then you've got receivers that can get open the way that Fitzgerald and Floyd (and) Brown can."

After the game, a dejected Brian Orakpo took total blame for Sunday's loss, saying his dropped interception in the fourth quarter – which could've led to a game-changing pick-six – was too big to overcome.

"I should have made that play," Orakpo said, more than once. "I feel like I lost this game for us. Those guys played hard. Everybody played hard. Everybody played good. We came short at the end and Arizona made more plays and created turnovers."

The Redskins will go back to the drawing board, starting Monday, as they begin preparing for the Tennessee Titans, who come to FedExFIeld next Sunday for Washington's annual Homecoming game.

"We got to go out there and play, turn this thing around and it's going to take everybody," Kerrigan said. "I know it's not just a thing or it's one guy doing something drastically different, it's everybody needing to make plays and ultimately make plays."

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