The football was jarred loose from Chris Cooley's grasp, and it bounced to the ground.
The St. Louis Rams recovered the fumble.
Cooley walked to the sidelines in frustration, clapping his hands in disgust.
It was the first offensive turnover by the Redskins this season.
Turns out that the fumble floodgates had opened.
The Redskins' offense committed three first-half fumbles, sabotaging their momentum time and again. And the previously winless Rams pulled out a stunning 17-16 win.
"We stuck it to ourselves," Clinton Portis said. "They stayed alive and won the ball game."
Added Jason Campbell: "The turnovers really hurt us. It's a setback."
The Redskins' offense had set an NFL record by not committing a turnover in the first five games of the regular season.
Cooley's fumble came after he caught a pass across the middle. He fought for extra yardage, but safety Oshiomogho Atogwe poked the ball loose and linebacker Chris Draft pounced on the fumble for the recovery.
Midway through the second quarter, the offense committed its second gaffe when Campbell could not handle a Casey Rabach snap. The ball bounced off Campbell's hands and defensive end Chris Long was there to snatch up the fumble.
"It was a low snap," Campbell said. "I was trying to pick it up real quick and save us a field goal attempt. But you're chasing it and it's bouncing all over the place. They got it."
Both times, the Redskins' defense stepped up and forced the Rams to punt.
They would not be so fortunate on their final turnover.
With the first half winding down, Campbell was once again leading the Redskins downfield.
Facing a 1st-and-10 at the Rams' 16-yard line with 26 seconds left, Campbell dropped back to pass. The pocket started to collapse, and he got off a quick throw.
The ball was batted in the air, and Pete Kendall ran over to snatch the ball.
He decided to try to run with the ball.
Linebacker Pina Tinoisamoa sped over and poked the ball loose from Kendall's arms.
Atogwe was there again.
He scooped up the fumble and raced 75 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. The Rams had the lead 10-7 going into halftime.
Reflecting on the costly turnover, Kendall said: "A thousand things went through my mind. I felt like the ball was up forever. I should have gone with my first thought, which was to knock it down.
"But I felt if I grabbed it and threw it down they might call a fumble. So I held on to the ball and tried to get back to the line of scrimmage.
"I've just got to knock the ball down, and we're talking about a different [outcome to the game]."
Kendall was inconsolable in the Redskins' locker room after the game.
"It is hard for me to know that I let down the other 52 guys in the locker room, the coaches, the owner and the fans," Kendall said. "I tried to be a player who thinks my way around the field pretty well, so for somebody who thinks about football a lot to make a boneheaded play like that is inexcusable."
Campbell defended Kendall in his post-game comments.
"Pete can't blame the game on himself," Campbell said. "We all had something to do with this game. When the ball got tipped in the air, Pete just reacted quickly and grabbed the ball. I don't think he realized he was going to get himself a fumble. He was just trying to capitalize on the moment."