ASHBURN, Va. — Jay Gruden looked down at his podium Monday and haltingly began to discuss the blown, 15-point, late fourth-quarter lead and eventual overtime loss that dropped his Washington Redskins to 4-6 and almost definitively means the team is now playing for draft positioning rather than a playoff spot.

“Um, yeah, it’s, uh, not fun to go back and watch that last six minutes on either side of the ball,” Gruden said.

“There are a lot of issues defensively. Offensively, third-and-1, couldn’t convert. Bad calls. Bad coaching calls. Whatever it might be. As a group, the Redskins didn’t get it done.”

That’s a familiar — if oddly third-person — refrain for a group that is now assured of failing to win 11 or more games for the 26th consecutive season. Every other NFL club has done it at least once in that span.

Gruden and Co. don’t have a lot of time to get ready for the beginning of the rest of this season: The Redskins host a Thanksgiving game for the first time, facing the New York Giants (2-8) on Thursday night.

Until then, it might be tough to completely stop thinking about Washington’s latest setback, even if quarterback Kirk Cousins insisted after the 34-31 defeat against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday: “Whether we are 4-6, 6-4, 10-0, I would go into the next game with the exact same approach and mental makeup.”

With less than three minutes to go in regulation, the Redskins led the Saints 31-16, before Drew Brees (11 for 11 and two TDs in the fourth quarter) and Mark Ingram (51 yards on two carries in OT) led New Orleans to the improbable victory.

There were plenty of things to rue about the collapse. The defense that now has allowed more than 30 points in consecutive weeks, for example.

Or an offense that could not run out the clock in the fourth quarter, in part because running back Samaje Perine was dropped for a loss on third-and-1, then went three-and-out thanks to a pair of dropped passes by Perine and Vernon Davis in the extra period after winning the coin toss.

In between those failures came a possession at 31-all in the fourth quarter in which Washington initially reached the Saints 34 with 31 seconds remaining, in range for an attempt at a go-ahead field goal. But on first down, Cousins took the snap and immediately threw the ball out of bounds. He was called for intentional grounding — a 10-yard penalty, plus a 10-second runoff — and was sacked on the next play, sending the teams to overtime.

That call stuck in his craw and in his coach’s.

Gruden said he thought the officials were wrong.

“It doesn’t sit very well with me, at all. I can handle non-calls from time to time. But I can’t handle calls that aren’t calls. That’s a fact. We have two receivers in the area and he threw it over their heads.

“It is perfectly legal for a quarterback to overthrow a receiver, a receiver not to be looking, and a ball to fly over his head. It happens all the time. He wasn’t under duress,” Gruden said. “Maybe I don’t understand the rule. We’ll get clarity on it. And if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Costly mistake. And if I’m right, it’s too bad.”

On a conference call with reporters Monday, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart would not say whether the call was proper, saying that the rule declares it is up to the referee to decide whether the QB is facing “an imminent loss of yardage under pressure from the defense.”

Said Lockhart: “That is a judgment call, and the judgment of the referee here was that he was, and he threw the flag.”

NOTES: WR Terrelle Pryor is headed to IR after ankle surgery, ending his season after only 20 catches and one TD. … Also having surgery: RB Chris Thompson, who broke his leg against New Orleans.


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich


For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL