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Best and Worst

Monday, November 29, 2004; Page D14

Worst offense: Another game, another painful performance by the Redskins' offense. Tailback Clinton Portis ran for 17 yards on six carries, quarterback Patrick Ramsey finished with a 63.1 rating and the team managed 51 rushing yards, including nine in the first half.

Best pursuit: Linebacker Marcus Washington saved a touchdown by running down punt returner Antwaan Randle El in the first quarter. Randle El had run past the coverage down the left sideline and appeared to have a clear path toward the end zone until Washington, who had the angle, closed from the right for the tackle.

Pittsburgh's Antwaan Randle El is pulled down by Marcus Washington after a 60-yard punt return in the second quarter. (Gene J. Puskar - AP)

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Best stand: After Randle El's punt return, the Steelers began at the Redskins 17-yard line. The NFL's second-ranked defense held firm from there, forcing three plays and a field goal by Jeff Reed.

Best lunge: Early in the second quarter, Randle El broke into the open field on his third punt return and was in the clear down the right sideline. Punter Tom Tupa was the last player with a chance to stop him, and he did so with a diving push that forced Randle El out of bounds.

Worst use of extra player: The Redskins were geared to stop the Steelers on fourth down and one in the second quarter, so much so that they had 12 men on the field for the play. But even with the extra-player advantage, the Redskins could not keep Jerome Bettis from picking up the first down with room to spare. Next strategy: 13 men on the field.

Worst start: The Redskins' offense gained seven yards over their first four possessions. Their only first down came via a defensive penalty against the Steelers.

Worst block: H-back Chris Cooley had his head turned to the right looking at quarterback Patrick Ramsey and lost track of linebacker Joey Porter, who moved to the line of scrimmage in blitz formation. At the snap, Cooley whiffed trying to block Porter, who had a clear path toward Ramsey and tossed the quarterback to the turf for a sack that resulted in a nine-yard loss.

Worst hands: Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner and James Thrash all dropped passes, some of which would have been for long gains and first downs. Those miscues went a long way toward limiting the Redskins' struggling offense that totaled three first downs in the first half.

Best concentration: Early in the third quarter, Cooley went over the middle to catch a 12-yard pass from Ramsey. Immediately after the catch as Cooley turned up the field, linebacker James Farrior delivered a jarring blow that sent the rookie backward. But Cooley held on to extend the Redskins' best drive of the game to that point.

Best decision: It didn't look promising at the time after three straight misses from the Steelers 1-yard line, but Coach Joe Gibbs's choice to go for it on fourth down paid off when Ramsey completed a two-yard pass over the middle to Cooley to cut the lead to 13-7 and put the Redskins back in the game. The touchdown finished off a 79-yard drive that used 6 minutes 12 seconds.

Best poise: Late in the fourth quarter with the Redskins facing fourth and two from the Steelers 42, Ramsey came under heavy pressure thanks to a Steelers' blitz. In the face of three defenders, Ramsey delivered a short throw to Cooley for a first down before being hit hard.

Worst throw: One play later and again under heavy pressure, Ramsey threw a pass directly to Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend. There was no receiver within five yards of Townsend.

Best punter: The Redskins are getting their money's worth from Tupa, who is second in the league in punts with 77. Yesterday he had seven punts, averaging 46 yards. Tupa entered the game third in the NFL in average at 44.7.

-- Gene Wang

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