Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Redskins (5-9) vs. Cowboys (5-9)

from the official site of the Washington Redskins
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.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Eagles 17, Redskins 14

from the official site of the Washington Redskins
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."