Redskins coach Richie Petitbon pulled Cary Conklin after the first drive of the third quarter for Rich Gannon, but the move didn't stop the Redskins from a 17-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Joe Robbie Stadium before 68,568 fans.
Conklin was yanked with the Redskins trailing 14-3, and Gannon directed one touchdown drive that cut the deficit to 14-10, but the Redskins got no closer.
Marino, who gave the Dolphins a 14-0 lead with touchdowns on their first two possessions, directed a drive that ended with a 37-yard Pete Stoyanovich field goal with 3:58 left. The Dolphins led, 17-10.
Gannon had two more chances to direct a touchdown drive that would have tied the score, but the Redskins got only two first downs.
The Redskins started the first drive on their 7 after a penalty on Pat Eilers nullified a Brian Mitchell return to midfield. The drive fizzled when Tim McGee's third-down catch for a first down was nullified because his foot went out of bounds before he caught it.
The Redskins then punted, and Monte Coleman stopped Terry Kirby on third down to force the Dolphins to punt. The Redskins got the ball on their 29 with 1:50 left.
But after getting one first down, Gannon threw a pass into the arms of Miami's Troy Vincent with 59 seconds left to wrap up the victory. Gannon said he was throwing to McGee, but threw behind him.
The loss dropped the Redskins to 1-3 for the first time since 1985 and continued the pattern of slow starts that was familiar during the 12 years of the Joe Gibbs regime.
Under Gibbs, the Redskins started 0-5 in 1981, 1-3 in 1985, 0-2 in 1984 and 1989 and 2-3 in 1988 and 2-2 last year.
The Redskins made the playoffs in only two of those six years (1984 and last year), and now they're going to have to try to come back in Petitbon's first year.
Petitbon said he doesn't know if he'll go with Conklin or Gannon if Rypien isn't ready. He said he thinks the odds are 60-40 against Rypien being able to play.
Conklin completed 13 of 22 for 109 yards, and Gannon completed five of 12 for 49 yards and had one interception.
It didn't help that the Redskins couldn't run the ball. Reggie Brooks and Brian Mitchell each had 28 yards. Brooks ran 11 times, and Mitchell had seven carries.
Petitbon said: "The bottom line is we didn't play very well tonight. Right now, we're just going through some rough times."
Explaining the switch to Gannon, he said: "We figured we needed a little spark. Hopefully, he was going to give it to us. He got one touchdown. I thought he played pretty well. He got us back in the game, but time ran out."
Petitbon didn't show much confidence in Conklin even before he pulled him. Near the end of the first half, the Redskins faced a third-and-four at the Washington 38 with slightly more than a minute left.
The Redskins had all three of their timeouts, but didn't call any. The result was that when Conklin threw a 5-yard pass to Mitchell for a first down at the Washington 43, they had 26 seconds left.
They called timeout, but when Art Monk gained 20 yards on a pass reception three plays later, the Redskins had just one second left.
With the ball at the Washington 42, Chip Lohmiller tried a 59-yard field goal, and he was short.
Petitbon said it took the team a while to settle down after Marino threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Tony Martin on the third play of the game when he beat the blitz.
"We wanted to go after Marino," Petitbon said, explaining his decision to blitz. "We wanted to put pressure on him to get to him early. We took a shot. This is a game of risks, and you have to take risks."
Instead, rookie Tom Carter, making his first start, was burned on the play by Martin. Darrell Green, coming from the other side, took the blame for not catching Martin after he broke free, but Carter collided with him and knocked him off stride.
Carter said: "I should have made the tackle at the point of attack, and he made a great run."
Carter, though, came back to make an interception in the end zone.
Petitbon said: "I think we settled down. It's really unfortunate that they hit the first one because I think that had a big part to do with the second one [touchdown]. We then settled down and started playing better defense."
The offense did not get untracked, so Petitbon made the move to Gannon.
"I was surprised," Conklin said. "That's a decision the coach makes. That's it." He said he hopes he gets a chance to start again next Sunday. "I'd love to play. I guess we have to wait and see."
Gannon said: "I always prepare myself to play. I felt comfortable. It just didn't seem that we had good field position all night, but we got some things going at the end of the third quarter and the fourth."
Dolphins coach Don Shula, who gained his 321st win, said: "Our defense came up with the big play, stopping the drive at the end. We let them get back into the game after getting two quick touchdowns."