The Redskins, victorious in two of their last three games, prepare to play their final road game of the regular season when they take on NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium. The match-up is set for December 26 at 4:15 p.m. ET (3:15 p.m. CT).
The Redskins are coming down the home-stretch of the season and looking to finish strong after soundly defeating the New York Giants three weeks ago, falling in dramatic fashion to NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles, and then topping the San Francisco 49ers on the road last weekend.
Sunday's game against Dallas will be the second rematch of the season between long-time coaching rivals Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells. The Redskins also have a chance to even their 2004 road record to 4-4 on the season and avenge the 21-18 loss to the Cowboys on Monday Night Football in Week 3 at FedExField.
Although the storied rivalry has been one-sided in recent history--the Cowboys are winners of the last 13-of-14 games--the Redskins are charged with positive momentum from solid performances the last few weeks.
"It's hard to have a rivalry when one team is winning all the games," Gibbs said. "The toughest thing for us is our division and what we have to do is win in our division, then work outwards."
The Redskins produced a strong performance last week in their victory over San Francisco at Monster Park. Unsung heroes got their turn to shine and the Redskins defense posted another dominating display.
Running back Clinton Portis rushied for more than 100 yards, Robert Royal logged his second career touchdown and middle linebacker Antonio Pierce continued his stellar season when he tied for the team-lead in tackles with nine and had a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"Our guys have continued to fight and it's been every single week," Gibbs said. "It was a short work week for us--we played late last Sunday night and we had to travel to the west coast. I have to give the 49ers credit, they fought hard and we knew that would be the case. But the thing I'm proudest of is just the way we fight."
Running back Clinton Portis has five 100-yard games in the Redskins five wins this season. He also needs 217 yards to make NFL history, becoming the first player to record 1,500 yard rushing seasons in his first three years in the NFL.
Quarterback Patrick Ramsey is also finding his niche since taking over the starting job in Week 12. In his five starts, he has posted an 83.3 passer rating.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Monday, December 13, 2004
Once again, Washington hung tough with NFC East division winner Philadelphia. This time, the Redskins had the ball and a chance to win in the game's final minutes. But the late comeback was thwarted when quarterback Patrick Ramsey threw an interception in the end zone, ending a potential game-winning drive.
The Redskins would go on to lose 17-14 at FedExField, dropping their record to 4-9 on the season.
"I was trying to throw a touchdown," Ramsey said of his interception. "I was trying to give [receiver] Chris Cooley a chance to catch the ball. I felt like Chris was going to be able to get behind the defender. He had made some great plays [earlier in the game]. It was probably not a great decision, but at the same time I was trying to get us the win.
Head coach Joe Gibbs said he was proud of his team for nearly pulling off a big upset of the 12-1 Eagles.
"I'm proud of our guys for the way they fight--they've done that all year," Gibbs said. "I feel like they played with a lot of heart. We were right there to make a play and couldn't get it done."
Ramsey finished the game completing 29-of-45 passes for 251 yards. He connected with Laveranues Coles on 12 of his completions for 100 yards--the best output of the season for the Redskins' wide receiver.
Ramsey is also developing a great rapport with Cooley, who logged five catches for 75 yards. Cooley's 31-yard, third-down catch put the Redskins in position for a game-tying or game-winning score.
It was a hard-fought, physical battle on both sides of the ball. In one of the game's scary moments, cornerback Shawn Springs left the game on a cart in the fourth quarter after a jarring hit. He was diagnosed with a concussion. Springs was chasing McNabb, who had scrambled right, when he was blindsided by Eagles' fullback Josh Parry.
Down 17-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins began to mount a comeback. Safety Sean Taylor tipped a Donovan McNabb pass into the arms of Springs, who turned up-field and gave the Redskins a first down at their own 49-yard line,
It took Ramsey just four plays to lead the offense in for a touchdown. Ramsey connected on passes to Portis for 15 yards and Chris Cooley for 24 yards to give the Redskins a 1st-and-goal at the 2-yard line. Portis followed blocks by Chris Samuels and Derrick Dockery for the touchdown.
Washington entered the game eyeing an upset of the Eagles, a team that had been outscoring NFC opponents by an average of 32-to-13.
The Redskins got off to a great start, thanks to Ladell Betts' 54-yard kickoff return. A 15-yard face mask infraction on the return gave the Redskins a 1st-and-goal at the Eagles' 7-yard line. One play later, Clinton Portis slid through a gaping hole to the left for an easy 5-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles responded with a touchdown drive of their own. It included a 47-yard pass interference penalty on Springs covering Owens. McNabb found tight end L.J. Smith on a 2-yard touchdown pass to culminate the 5-play, 66-yard drive.
With two touchdowns in the first four minutes, it looked as if there would be plenty of offensive fireworks. But the game quickly settled into a hard-hitting defensive battle.
In a play that seemed to epitomize the Redskins' effort, Coles took a jarring hit across the middle from Eagles' safety Michael Lewis. Coles held on to the ball, though, in a play that seemed to energize the FedExField crowd.
Early in the second quarter, the Eagles nearly scored early when McNabb completed an 80-yard pass to Todd Pinkston. Philadelphia had 1st-and-goal at the Redskins' 5-yard line. McNabb completed a pass in the flat to Terrell Owens. He was met head on by Antonio Pierce, who knocked the ball loose from Owens's hands and recovered the fumble.
In the third quarter, the Eagles built a 17-7 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Dorsey Levens and a 38-yard field goal by David Akers. It proved to be enough of a lead in the end.
"It was a tough loss," left tackle Chris Samuels said. "We laid it all on the line today. Give credit to Philly--they won the game. But they respect us. We went after those guys hard."
Added linebacker Marcus Washington: "I was proud to be out there. We've got some great character guys on this team. We fight from the first whistle to the last whistle. We're building on something here."
Monday, November 29, 2004
The Redskins dropped to 3-8 on the season with a 16-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon. The Steelers used three field goals by kicker Jeff Reed, nifty running by Antwaan Randle El on several punt returns and a 100-yard effort by bulldozing running back Jerome Bettis to win the game.
The Redskins' defense was able to keep the game close, pressuring quarterback Ben Roethlisberger repeatedly. The defense, ranked second overall in the NFL, limited the Steelers to just 207 total yards and 100 passing yards. Roethlisberger was sacked four times, twice by linebacker Marcus Washington and one each by Lemar Marshall and Chris Clemons.
But the Steelers' defense, ranked first overall in the NFL, was better. The Redskins managed 156 yards of total offense and just 51 rushing yards. Patrick Ramsey was 19-of-34 for 138 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Like Roethlisberger, Ramsey was under seemingly constant pressure, with the Steelers' defense registering five sacks.
"Our football team, I told them I was proud of them," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "I was proud to be with them. They fight each and every week, against two tough opponents two weeks in a row on the road. Our guys competed and fought their guts out. But we weren't able to get it today. Hopefully somewhere in there, there'll be a reward. That's what's in my thoughts."
Of Ramsey, who was making his second start of the season, Gibbs said: "My general feeling was, he competed and he's a tough guy--which is what he's showing. I think it was kind of all of us today."
The Redskins trailed Pittsburgh 13-0 at halftime. Late in the third quarter, the Redskins scored a touchdown on a 2-yard pass from Ramsey to H-back Chris Cooley. It was the Redskins' first touchdown since Week 9 against Cincinnati.
The 13-play, 79-yard drive included a 26-yard run by Ladell Betts and a 17-yard pass from Ramsey to Laveranues Coles that got the Redskins' offense to the Steelers' 4-yard line. One play later, a defensive pass interference penalty gave the Redskins a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
The Steelers' defense rose to the challenge, however, stuffing Betts twice at the goal line and breaking up a Ramsey pass to tight end Brian Kozlowski.
Down 13-0, Gibbs elected to go for the touchdown on fourth down instead of settling for a field goal. Ramsey dropped back to pass and connected with Cooley for the touchdown. Cooley had settled near the middle of the end zone and caught the ball despite two Pittsburgh defenders draped over him.
A few minutes later, the Steelers increased their lead to 16-7 when Reed kicked a 32-yard field goal.
In the first half, the Steelers used a pair of long punt returns by the fleet-footed, shifty Randle El to build a lead.
The game was scoreless until late in the first quarter, but both teams had good field position. On Pittsburgh's second drive of the game, Shawn Springs was called for a 32-yard pass interference penalty as he covered Randle El. The play gave the Steelers the ball at Washington's 24-yard line.
The Redskins' defense stiffened, thanks in part to a pair of young players seeing their first action of the season. First rookie defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti tackled Bettis for a two-yard loss. Then first-year linebacker Chris Clemons, signed by the team last week, sacked Roethlisberger for a 7-yard loss, putting the Steelers out of field goal range.
Late in the first quarter, Randle El had a 60-yard punt return to set up the game's first score. It was the Redskins' Washington, playing on punt coverage, who made the touchdown-saving tackle on Randle El as he sprinted down the left sideline. He was knocked out of bounds at the Redskins' 17-yard line.
The Redskins' defense stiffened again, stopping Bettis twice and forcing an incomplete pass. Pittsburgh had to settle for a field goal; Reed connected on a 33-yarder to give the Steelers an early 3-0 lead.
On the first play of the second quarter, Randle El again caught a punt and weaved his way through the Redskins' special teams, eluding tacklers at almost every turn. It was punter Tom Tupa who knocked him out of bounds, saving a touchdown. The Steelers began their drive at the Redskins' 39-yard line.
Roethlisberger completed a 20-yard pass to Bettis, giving the Steelers a 1st-and-goal at the Redskins' 4-yard line. Bettis did the rest, lumbering into the left corner of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown.
Midway through the second quarter, Reed added a 36-yard field goal to put the Steelers ahead 13-0 heading into halftime.
It was a lead the Redskins would not be able to overcome.
For the second week in a row, Washington was able to stay close with one of the NFL's elite teams on the road for three quarters. The Redskins lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 28-6 a week ago, but it was a close game until the Eagles pulled away in the fourth quarter.
"I think you can say we were very competitive and we fought hard [in both games]," Gibbs said. "The games were close into the fourth quarter. So you look at it and say our football team has continued to fight against tough odds. That's the way I look at it. That's what I would take from it. I'm proud of our guys and the way they fight. They fight hard."
Monday, November 08, 2004
It's no secret the Redskins have struggled to score touchdowns this season. On Sunday in Detroit, coaches used the unconventional to put points on the scoreboard--and it resulted in a 17-10 win over the Lions at Ford Field.
Both of the Redskins' touchdowns came in the third quarter. One was a halfback option pass from Clinton Portis to Laveranues Coles; the other came following a blocked punt.
The win closed out the first half of the regular season for the Redskins and put Washington's record at 3-5.
"I'm proud of our guys," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "We have a bunch of players who fight hard every week. Every game we've played has been a close game and this one was no different. It was an extremely hard-fought game."
The Redskins' defense posted another stellar performance, limiting the Detroit ground attack to just 64 yards. Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington threw for 269 yards, but most of them came in the fourth quarter as the Lions mounted a fourth-quarter comeback. Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin had two sacks and Fred Smoot recorded a fourth-quarter interception to help thwart the comeback.
The Lions scored a touchdown on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Harrington to fullback Cory Schlesinger to close to within 17-10 with 2:11 left in the game. Harrington had one final opportunity, but time ran out after a last-second Hail Mary pass was caught in bounds.
"I made up my mind when we had the lead that we needed to make sure we didn't beat ourselves," Gibbs said. "We tried to play it fairly cautious. I wanted to make sure our defense had every chance to stop them."
Mark Brunell and the Redskins' passing game struggled--the offense had just 73 yards passing and was 3-of-14 on third down conversions--but Clinton Portis more than picked up the slack. Portis rushed for 147 yards on 34 carries, a 4.3 yards per carry average.
On his first two carries of the second half, Portis logged 42 yards in putting the Redskins in excellent field position for a score.
Gibbs turned to Portis to close out the drive, employing a halfback option play. Portis took the handoff from Brunell and quickly lofted a high-arching pass to Laveranues Coles in the corner of the end zone. Coles, a step ahead of the nearest Lions defender, caught the pass near the right sideline for the 15-yard touchdown and a 10-3 lead.
"We worked on it all week and that was his best throw of the week," Brunell said. "Laveranues made a nice play, chased it down. It was a big play, obviously coming out in the second half like that."
Later in the third quarter, special teams coordinator Danny Smith sent his unit on a punt block. Taylor Jacobs broke through from the left and batted away the kick of punter Nick Harris. The ball tumbled away and Walt Harris quickly scooped it up. He raced untouched into the end zone for another score and a 17-3 advantage.
"We've had a punt block on every week, it's just a matter of when Danny chooses to use it," Gibbs said. "In that play, it kind of looked like they got off a bad snap and that gave us enough time to get back there to block it. We finally got one and it came at a good time for us."
The first half was filled with solid defensive play, as both teams went into halftime tied at 3-3. Each offense was hamstrung by poor field position and the defenses were able to contain playmakers for both teams.
The Lions started three first-half drives at their own 14-, 13- and 1-yard lines while the Redskins started drives on their 26-, 8- and 3-yard lines.
Neither offense was able to establish any momentum until midway through the second quarter. James Thrash returned a punt 43 yards to give the Redskins their first good field position of the half. Brunell completed passes to tight end Brian Kozlowski and running back Ladell Betts, while Portis spearheaded the ground attack. They led the Redskins to the Lions' 1-yard line.
For the second consecutive week, the Redskins had a touchdown taken off the board due to a penalty. On 4th-and-1 from the one, Gibbs elected to go for it. Brunell found tight end Robert Royal in the back of the end zone for an apparent score. But the play was called back due to a false start by right tackle Ray Brown. The Redskins had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Ola Kimrin.
Late in the first half, another Redskins penalty helped the Lions get into field position for a field goal. With less than 20 seconds left in the first half, Harrington completed a 14-yard pass to tight end Stephen Alexander to the Redskins' 35-yard line. Antonio Pierce and Todd Franz lightly pushed Alexander out of bounds, but they were called for an unnecessary roughness penalty.
After the game, Gibbs made a point to say penalties were a concern.
"We've told the guys, if you hit anybody out of bounds, you run the risk of a penalty," Gibbs said. "Our guys know that. We can't be having those penalties."
Even with the mistakes and the 3-5 record, players still have high hopes for a postseason push.
"We just have to take it one game at a time," Smoot said. "If we win the next game, it just brings us one game closer to where we want to be at."
Monday, October 18, 2004
Led by a dominating defense and strong running by Clinton Portis, the Redskins defeated the Chicago Bears 13-10 at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon. The win improved the Redskins' record to 2-4 on the season and ended a four-game losing skid that tested the team's mettle the last few weeks.
Portis was the offensive star, rushing for 171 yards on 36 carries. He found room running behind both sides of the offensive line. As a team, the Redskins rushed for 218 yards, with Ladell Betts adding 30 rushing yards on six carries.
Portis's yardage total was the most for the Redskins since Dec. 12, 1999, when Stephen Davis rushed for 189 yards.
Mark Brunell did not post impressive numbers, but he was efficient in leading the Redskins' offense on three scoring drives. For the game, Brunell was 8-of-22 for 95 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
The Redskins' defense shined from the get-go. Led by defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (eight tackles, two sacks), Fred Smoot (six tackles) and Sean Taylor (four tackles, one sack, one interception), the defense limited the Bears to just 160 total yards of offense. Bears' quarterback Jonathan Quinn, making his second start for injured starter Rex Grossman, was 10-of-22 for 65 yards and one interception.
Even with the dominating performances by Portis and the defense, the game went down to the wire as the Redskins' offense was unable to run out the clock with a slim three-point lead.
But Quinn was pressured repeatedly on the Bears' last opportunity to drive downfield for a game-tying field goal. Quinn was sacked twice on the last drive, and on 4th-and-15 with 25 seconds left, he was intercepted by Taylor to seal the win for the Redskins. It was Taylor's first NFL interception.
In the first half, the Redskins built a 10-0 lead midway early in the second quarter.
Kicker Ola Kimrin-signed on Saturday to replace the injured John Hall-nailed a 41-yard field goal to open the scoring in the first quarter.
On their next possession, Brunell led the Redskins on an efficient 8-play, 79-yard drive that included passes of 21 yards to Laveranues Coles and 11 yards to Portis. On the first play of the second quarter, the Redskins got in the end zone on an 18-yard pass from Brunell to a wide-open Rod Gardner.
The Bears got on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter by capitalizing on a Redskins' turnover. It was a turnover that seemed reminiscent of several others that had occurred in Redskins' games this season.
Brunell's pass to Gardner was tipped by a defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage and drifted aimlessly into the secondary. The football was hauled in by cornerback Jerry Azumah at the Bears' 30-yard line. A Pro Bowl kick return specialist, Azumah quickly found open space and raced down the right sideline for a quick seven points.
For the Redskins, it was their fourth time this season that a turnover had been returned for a touchdown by an opposing team.
The game settled into a defensive battle from that point on, with neither team scoring in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Portis led the Redskins downfield with runs of 22 yards and 17 yards. The drive stalled on the Bears' 7-yard line and Kimrin came in to kick a 26-yard field goal, putting the Redskins ahead 13-7.
Chicago responded with their only offensive drive of the game. The Bears gave the defense a heavy dose of tailback Thomas Jones (who finished the game with 97 yards on 24 carries) and he helped lead the offense to the Redskins' 28-yard line. Kicker
Paul Edinger nailed a 46-yard field goal to pull Chicago closer.
But the Redskins' defense clamped down the rest of the way.
Monday, September 13, 2004
The Redskins out played the Bucs in a 16 - 10 decision. Game ball should go to the Redskins offensive and defensive lines.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Redskins guard Randy Thomas' solid play in 2003 might have warranted Pro Bowl consideration had he not been playing for a 5-11 team. With the season-ending injury to Jon Jansen, Thomas will be called upon to elevate his game even more.
The loss of his line mate, who was lined up next to him for every practice and every game last year, will be hard to overcome. "He's such a team leader and motivator and we just have to find a way to replace him," said Thomas. He's still going to be with us (working with line coach Joe Bugel ), though, and I'm glad of that." Still, though, there will have to be adjustments made on the field. "(We were) like bread and butter and somebody stole my butter so I've got to buy me some more."
Kenyatta Jones , the team's first option to replace Jansen, has enjoyed some success himself. "He's going to be fine. We've just got to get some repetitions together. He's been in it, he's been on a Super Bowl team," Thomas said. "With Jon going down he can basically start his career over and do well. . . He's got a chance to be a hero (by stepping in for Jansen).
Friday, August 27, 2004
He wanted them to play smarter last week and they did. Now the Redskins have different things they need to show tonight, starting with how they handle a team built on speed. St. Louis has speed on defense, on offense and special teams. That's why they're so dangerous indoors.
But this is an all-around test, unlike what Washington faced a week ago. Chances are, the absence of LaVar Arrington , Phillip Daniels and Mike Barrow will be felt much more tonight.
On the hot seat: Patrick Ramsey . The third-year quarterback needs a strong showing to have a realistic chance of winning the starting job. Ramsey started to show improvement, but this will be an excellent test for him. He needs to show he can handle pressure, knowing where to throw the ball under duress.
Keep an eye on: Defensive end Ron Warner . He's looked better than Regan Upshaw . Is that enough to beat out the veteran? Warner has appeared in six games since first entering the league in 1998, but he's done a nice job this summer.
And another eye on: Right tackle Kenyatta Jones . The Redskins have said they're pleased with what they've seen. But coaches almost always say that. What I want to see is Jones handle a top rusher without consistent help. So far, I haven't seen that. Tight end Walter Rasby is a constant companion on passing downs (which helped create a nice pocket against Miami). But Jones will face Leonard Little at times tonight. It's an excellent chance to see what Jones can do.
Two more: rookie tackles Mark Wilson and Jim Molinaro . Washington needs these players to progress rapidly. Wilson's balance was an issue vs. Miami and must improve, especially when pulling. That's correctable; let's see if those corrections have taken place.
Best subplot: The battle for the backup running back position. If Ladell Betts is healthy, a big if, then the job is his. There's not enough room to keep Rock Cartwright , John Simon and Sultan McCullough . That is, without a surprise cut there isn't. Each of those three has shown flashes of how they can help. Each is limited -- McCullough is the most limited, but he's also the fastest. What matters most? If special teams really plays an issue here, then Simon and Cartwright have the edge. But it's debatable if they'll keep both.
What we'd like to see: Taylor Jacobs string together a few catches. The coaches say he's smart, runs good routes and is fast. So let's see what he can do with the ball.
Monday, August 23, 2004
The Washington Redskins ran for 181 yards, controlled the ball for 41 minutes to beat the Miami Dolphins 17-0 Saturday night.
Miami (1-1) made five first downs -- none in the second half -- and totaled just 98 yards. By the second quarter, the offense was drawing boos from the crowd of about 30,000.
That makes us 1-1 in the preseason. Brunell looked great, even if most of his passes were pretty short. Now we need to gear up for St. Louis, who lost their first game against the Bears last week, and face the Chiefs tonight....
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Date Opponent Time/Result
Aug. 9 vs. Denver (Hall of Fame Game, ABC) 8:00 p.m.
Aug. 14 Carolina 8:00 p.m.
Aug. 21 at Miami 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 27 at St. Louis 8:00 p.m.
Sept. 3 Atlanta 7:00 p.m.
Date Opponent Result
Sept. 12 Tampa Bay 1:00 p.m.
Sept. 19 at New York Giants 1:00 p.m.
Sept. 27 Dallas 9:00 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Cleveland 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 10 Baltimore 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 at Chicago 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 24 Open Date
Oct. 31 Green Bay 1:00 p.m.
Nov. 7 at Detroit 1:00 p.m.
Nov. 14 Cincinnati 4:05 p.m.
Nov. 21 at Philadelphia 4:15 p.m.
Nov. 28 at Pittsburgh 1:00 p.m.
Dec. 5 New York Giants 4:15 p.m.
Dec. 12 Philadelphia 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 18 at San Francisco 5:00 p.m.
Dec. 26 at Dallas 4:15 p.m.
Jan. 2 Minnesota 1:00 p.m.
All times are Eastern