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Off on the Right Foot

Ex-Jet Hall Seals Opener With FGs of 50, 22, 33 Yds.

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2003; Page D01

The Washington Redskins added insult to insult. Less than five months after owner Daniel Snyder completed his offseason raid on the New York Jets' roster, the Redskins gutted out a tough win last night against their new rival in the NFL's season opener. Place kicker John Hall beat his former team with a 33-yard field goal with five seconds remaining, giving the Redskins a 16-13 triumph at FedEx Field.

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey set up the winning kick with a rare scramble, and the Redskins could savor an evening that started with big passing plays and ended with defensive grit and just enough resourcefulness by Coach Steve Spurrier's suddenly sputtering offense.

Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey is sacked by defensive end John Abraham and Mo Lewis in the first quarter but goes on to ring up 144 first-half passing yards. (Gary Hershorn - Reuters)

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"Thank goodness for John Hall," Spurrier said. "Thank goodness Mr. Snyder went out and got us a heck of a kicker. With our kicking situation last year, I don't see us winning that game. . . . Somehow we found a way to win a 16-13 game. I told somebody, 'I'm learning to coach in the NFL.' Winning 16-13 is better than losing, that's for dang sure."

The Redskins scored on each of their first three possessions, getting two field goals and a touchdown, and former Jets played key roles. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles had a 25-yard reception to set up an opening 50-yard field goal by Hall. The Jets took the lead on a fourth-down touchdown plunge by tailback LaMont Jordan from a yard out, but Ramsey found wideout Darnerien McCants for a four-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

A 48-yard connection between Ramsey and Coles led to another Hall field goal and a 13-7 lead for the Redskins at the half. Ramsey completed 12 of his 13 first-half passes, and Coles had 106 receiving yards by the break. But the offense slowed after the intermission, and a third-quarter interception thrown by Ramsey gave the Jets a field goal that made it a 13-10 game. Ramsey's fourth-quarter fumble handed the Jets another field goal that tied the score with just more than eight minutes remaining.

But the Redskins' defense kept the Jets bottled up, and gave the offense a final possession to win the game. The Redskins took over at their 39 with 2 minutes 16 seconds left. After backup tailback Ladell Betts ran for six yards, the usually immobile Ramsey scrambled for 24 yards and a first down at the Jets 31.

"I've never seen him run like that, but I'm excited to see he can," Coles said.

Ramsey called it the longest run of his football-playing life, and said: "I was looking hard for someone to throw it to. It just opened up. . . . I think it was pretty lucky I had a 24-yard run. I don't have many of those."

Three rushing attempts by Betts moved the ball to the 14, and Hall trotted on the field with eight seconds to go. His third field goal of the night sailed between the uprights with five seconds on the clock, setting off a wild celebration among the crowd of 85,420.

"It doesn't take a genius to figure out that was special," Hall said. "I was in a good rhythm. I just wanted the clock to hurry up and tick down so I could get out there and kick it."

Said Coles: "It's automatic when John comes on the field. It just goes to show that sometimes the grass is greener on the other side."

The fans weren't the only joyous people in the stadium. The four ex-Jets in the Redskins' locker room -- Coles, Hall, guard Randy Thomas and kick returner Chad Morton -- also were giddy.

"I wanted this win so bad," Morton said, "to be able to go out and taunt that team and have the upper hand over them."

Coles and Thomas led the Redskins out of the tunnel to begin the evening, and the Redskins took the opening kickoff and moved the ball smoothly. They relied on the run initially, giving the ball to tailback Trung Canidate twice and then using Rock Cartwright out of their two-fullback formation to bull for four yards on a third-and-two play. Ramsey connected with tight end Zeron Flemister for six yards on third and four to move the Redskins into Jets territory.

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