By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - If a team is truly led by its captains, it's not hard to see why the Washington Redskins have already clinched another losing season.
Left tackle Trent Williams missed Sunday's 34-27 loss to the New England Patriots because he was serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. The other offensive captain, receiver Santana Moss, was whistled for a crucial penalty late in the game and pulled out the tired loser's lament: "I guess we've got to play against a team and the ref."
Linebacker London Fletcher, a defensive co-captain, let the refs have it when he was called for a personal foul, although his tirade was somewhat excusable because it appeared to be a legal hit. Special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander was his usual steady self, the only one of the five captains not involved in some sort of controversy.
That leaves cornerback DeAngelo Hall, the other defensive captain, who had an especially trying day. Hall gave up on a play, standing and watching from a few yards away while Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was breaking tackles along the sideline for a 49-yard gain that set up a touchdown in the first quarter.
Then, in the third quarter, after he was called for defensive holding, Hall picked up the official's flag and gave it a disrespectful toss _ drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct call that gave New England 20 yards in penalties on one play.
"Especially when guys are in a leadership role, I think we understand that you have to keep your cool, regardless if you like a call or don't like a call," coach Mike Shanahan said Monday. "That's your job _ to handle yourself in a professional manner. And more importantly not put your team in a hole with a 15-yard penalty. So those are things I talk about with our football team, and if you make too many of those mistakes, eventually you're not with us."
The Gronkowski play was also far from exemplary. Hall said after the game he thought the tight end had stepped out of bounds, but that wasn't the case: There was still plenty of green between the tight end and the sideline when he dragged two other Redskins pursuers past a standing-still Hall.
"That was disappointing, because one of the things DeAngelo usually does is finish," Shanahan said. "A lot of corners don't like to tackle. He's one of the more physical guys in the league. I know he was embarrassed by it, as well as our whole football team."
Monday was a quiet day at Redskins Park. The Redskins (4-9) have clinched another losing season and will have to dig deep to keep themselves motivated over the final three weeks. Neither Hall nor Moss nor Fletcher made an appearance in the locker room during the period it was open to reporters.
"I'm excited about what the defense can do," said safety Reed Doughty, giving a blanket assessment of the state of things. "But at the end of the day, we're judged by wins."
Shanahan touched on the notable moments from Sunday's game, including the offensive pass interference call that got Moss so incensed. Moss caught what appeared to be a 5-yard touchdown pass that might have sent the game to overtime with 1:09 to play, but he was called for pushing off on receiver-turned-cornerback Julian Edelman.
"I agree with the call," Shanahan said. "You can't extend your arms. I'm not sure how many times you're going to call offensive pass interference, but anytime there is an extension of the arms, it's a proper call."
The penalty on Fletcher gets the opposite review. Shanahan on Sunday said he thought the call was "horrible," and the coach stood by that comment Monday. Fletcher was whistled for a blow to the head to Tom Brady after the New England quarterback waited too long to start a slide after a scramble. Replays show Fletcher made a clean hit, his arm hitting Brady in the midsection _ nowhere near the helmet.
Shanahan said he doesn't expect Fletcher to the additional punishment from the league office that usually accompanies an illegal helmet hit.
"Anytime you draw a personal foul, there's always a fine involved," Shanahan said. "What they'll probably do is look at that and say, `Hey, that's just a mis-call.' That's what I would guess."
Notes: The Redskins played again with a patchwork offensive line after RT Jammal Brown hurt his right groin during pregame warmups. Shanahan said he's not sure when Brown will return, and that Tyler Polumbus will get another start if Brown can't play Sunday against the New York Giants. ... The coach said Willie Smith and Sean Locklear will continue to share first-team snaps at left tackle during practice, filling in for Williams. ... Shanahan is still seeking clarification from the league as to whether Williams and TE Fred Davis can be at Redskins Park during their suspensions. As of now, they're being asked to stay away. "It's not perfectly clear right now," the coach said. ... The Redskins' turnover margin has dropped to minus-14, last in the NFL.
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