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Best and Worst

Monday, October 11, 2004; Page D14

Worst Loss: After taking a 10-point lead at halftime, the Redskins wilted in the second half en route to dropping their fourth in a row. The offense remains a disaster, wasting another solid defensive effort. Let the panic begin.

Best Rivalry: The Battle of the Beltway may not have the history of Redskins-Cowboys, but especially on the part of the Ravens, Washington vs. Baltimore is a game to be circled when the schedule comes out. The I-95 neighbors do not play that often, but when they do, there's more ferocity in the hits and some extra emotion in the moments leading up to kickoff.

Game Day: Ravens 17, Redskins 10
 Redskins, Game 5
The Ravens score 14 points without their struggling offense taking the field Sunday night to rally past the punchless Redskins.
The Ravens deal Redskins their most severe blow of the season.
Michael Wilbon: The Redskins are creating ways to lose.
Thomas Boswell: Redskins close to forgetting about the playoffs.
Chris Cooley one of few pleasant surprises for the Redskins' offense.
Clinton Portis continues a troubling start to his tenure in Washington.
Ravens win despite early mistakes from quarterback Kyle Boller.
Ravens sign Pro Bowl corner Chris McAlister to a seven-year contract.
Notebook: LaVar Arrington misses anticipated matchup with Ray Lewis.
Best & Worst

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Best Weather: Football is meant to be played with a chill in the air, and last night spectators broke out their cold weather attire for the first time this season. At some tailgates outside the stadium, fans warmed themselves with piping hot chili, spiced cider and coffee drinks.

Best Vindication: Deion Sanders, who came out of retirement to play with the Ravens after last playing one season for the Redskins in 2000, quieted the many Redskins fans who roundly booed him early in the game by intercepting a pass late in the third quarter. The flamboyant cornerback then held the ball over his head during a 23-yard return.

Worst Injury I: Impact players at the same position on different teams always find motivation in outdoing one another. That's why it was especially disappointing that Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington, recovering from knee surgery, was not on the field last night trying to match hits with the best in the game in Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

Worst Injury II: Washington's defense began the night without several starters, and early in the first quarter the unit lost another when safety Matt Bowen left because of a right knee injury.

Worst Punt: Midway through the first quarter, punter Tom Tupa mis-hit a ball off the side of his right foot. The punt went 20 yards and the Ravens took possession at their 45-yard line.

Best Fortune: Late in the first quarter, quarterback Mark Brunell threw a pass on third down that appeared intended for Laveranues Coles. But the ball sailed over Coles and into the waiting arms of Rod Gardner, who beat Sanders for the catch and had enough for the first down.

Best Hit: Later in the first quarter, Coles absorbed his second jarring blow in three weeks when Ray Lewis made sure the wide receiver was not going to catch a pass intended for him over the middle. During a Sept. 27 loss to the Cowboys, Coles fell victim to a similar blow from safety Roy Williams.

Best Bounce: Cornerback Fred Smoot intercepted a pass in the second quarter when it bounced off the chest of Ravens tight end Daniel Wilcox. Smoot returned it 17 yards to the Ravens 28 and gave Washington an infusion of momentum.

Worst Throw: Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs was the beneficiary of an ugly pass by quarterback Kyle Boller late in the second quarter. All Springs had to do was stand and wait for the interception as the ball came right to him.

Best Opportunity: Springs's interception set up the Redskins at the Baltimore 8, and from there Washington ran for one yard before Brunell completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Chris Cooley 26 seconds before intermission for a 10-0 lead.

Best Use of Sideline: The Redskins got the ball at their 40-yard line in the fourth quarter because returner Chad Morton stepped out of bounds with his left foot, then came back in the field of play, then left again and fielded the ball while back out of bounds. Officials ruled that it was equivalent to the ball having gone out of bounds.

Worst Blind Side: Ravens safety Ed Reed blitzed Brunell from behind and stripped the ball as he was getting ready to throw. Reed then returned the fumble for a touchdown that cut the deficit to 10-7 in the third quarter and completely changed the game.

Worst Block: Running back Ladell Betts completely missed Reed on the critical blitz, even though the running back had nothing else to do on the play. Betts also failed to recover the fumble or tackle Reed.

Worst Clutch Play: In the fourth quarter, with the Redskins badly needing a first down, Brunell missed an open Clinton Portis in the flat on second down and then bounced a pass to Betts, forcing a punt.

Worst Penalty: The Ravens' Ed Hartwell took off his helmet to argue with the Redskins' Lemar Marshall after a punt, earning a 15-yard penalty and giving the Redskins the ball at their 49 with less than six minutes to play. Didn't matter, though -- Brunell threw two awful incompletions, Portis was stuffed on a run and the Redskins punted.

-- Gene Wang


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