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Best and Worst

Monday, December 6, 2004; Page D14

Best hope: During a season in which the offense has been inept and without direction, the Redskins gave their supporters some reason to believe they are heading in the right direction. Washington showed a commitment to the running game, did not take unnecessary risks and played defense with the same aggression that has made it the second-ranked unit in the league.

Best start: The Redskins' first drive hearkened back to the glory days of Joe Gibbs's teams. Tailback Clinton Portis began with five straight carries, and the Redskins controlled the ball for 7 minutes 15 seconds. Portis finished the possession with 49 yards on seven carries, including a one-yard burst for a touchdown to cap a 93-yard march lasting 13 plays.

Tight end Robert Royal's nine-yard touchdown catch at the end of the first half gave the Redskins a 21-0 lead and was the first time Washington had scored more than 20 points this season. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)

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Best ball control: The Redskins held the ball for 40:29, had 30 more running plays than the Giants and held a 27-7 advantage in first downs.

Worst protection: Lennie Friedman barely got a block on Giants defensive tackle William Joseph late in the first quarter, and quarterback Patrick Ramsey suffered the consequences. Joseph bounced off the Redskins' center, then dropped Ramsey for a six-yard sack that forced a punt.

Best run: Portis seemed to be stopped for no gain early in the second quarter, but he squirted through the line of scrimmage for 19 yards. Portis kept his legs churning at the line of scrimmage, then came out the other side and was in the open field before the Giants made the tackle.

Best execution: On second down and goal from the 4, Ramsey dropped back to pass and flipped the ball to Portis over the middle. The Giants' coverage was fooled on the play as Ramsey looked left, then came back to the center of the field for the easy touchdown.

Best anticipation: Shawn Springs was in single coverage against Jamaar Taylor on a deep post pattern midway through the second quarter, and Giants quarterback Eli Manning recognized it. Manning delivered a throw that appeared destined for a long gain, but Springs batted the ball with his right hand at the last moment.

Best rush: Walt Harris came fast up the middle to block Jeff Feagles' punt late in the second quarter. Jim Maxwell scooped up the ball for the Giants, but he did not get far, and the Redskins took over at the New York 31-yard line.

Best elusiveness: Portis's running aside, the best offensive threat for the Redskins was wide receiver Laveranues Coles. His best move came in the closing minute of the first half, when he caught a hitch, then leaped out of a tackle attempt by safety Curry Burns for a first down. Coles finished with six catches for 60 yards.

Best concentration: Two plays later, Ramsey scrambled out of trouble before spotting tight end Robert Royal in the end zone. Ramsey moved to his right and threw a strike for a nine-yard touchdown that gave the Redskins a 21-0 lead. It was the first time this season the Redskins had scored that many points in a game.

Best half: Ramsey finished the first half 11 for 12 with 104 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 142.4 rating. Portis had 90 yards on 16 carries, and Coles had four catches for 33 yards. The defense limited Tiki Barber to 19 yards on nine rushes and held the Giants to 57 yards of offense.

Worst coverage: The Redskins had the Giants down and seemingly out of the game completely until Derrick Ward took a kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. Ward got through the first wave of coverage, then avoided a tackle attempt by kicker John Hall before outrunning everyone else to the end zone to cut the deficit to 24-7.

Worst penalty: The Redskins had a touchdown called back late in the third quarter because of holding against center Cory Raymer. Ramsey had rolled out of trouble to his right and threw across his body to Chris Cooley, who had gotten open running toward the left sideline. Cooley turned upfield and dove into the end zone, but as he was celebrating, tackle Chris Samuels was pointing to the flag on the ground.

-- Gene Wang

© 2004 The Washington Post Company