Forward Progress

Davis Paves the Way, Redskins Win 3rd Straight

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 5, 2001; Page D01

The Washington Redskins took one more step toward reassembling their season yesterday at FedEx Field. They relied on their reinvigorated pass rush and the bullish running of tailback Stephen Davis. Quarterback Tony Banks added a pair of touchdown passes, and the Redskins controlled the game virtually from the start in beating the Seattle Seahawks, 27-14, in front of 82,352.

The Redskins (3-5) played the second half without LaVar Arrington after the linebacker suffered a high ankle sprain. He was on crutches after the game and said he was uncertain about playing at Denver on Nov. 18 after the bye week. But the rest of the news was good for the Redskins as they won their third straight game following five consecutive losses.

Tony Banks hands off to Stephen Davis in the first half. Davis had 142 yards on 32 carries and a score, Washington's first rushing touchdown of the season. (Craig Cola - washingtonpost.com)

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"It's good we turned it around before we got too deep in the pit," defensive tackle Kenard Lang said. "We were pretty deep, but we're climbing out. You never know what might happen."

Said Redskins Coach Marty Schottenheimer: "We're making progress. That's all you can do in this business. I've always said it's not how you start. It's how you finish."

Davis touched the ball on 34 of 70 offensive plays. He had his second straight 100-yard rushing game, with 142 yards on 32 carries. Davis provided the Redskins' first rushing touchdown of the season, a one-yard dive in the second quarter, and had two catches for 22 yards. Backup running back Ki-Jana Carter added 57 rushing yards on 10 carries as the Redskins piled up 230 rushing yards against a Seattle defense that began the day allowing only 85.2 rushing yards per game, fifth best in the NFL.

"All week, people were saying, 'You can't run the ball on these guys,' " Davis said. "We proved them wrong."

Schottenheimer said: "We've got a few plays we run that we think we can run against anybody. . . . If you can run the ball in this league, you have a good chance of winning."

Banks threw touchdown passes of seven yards to tight end Walter Rasby in the first quarter and 13 yards to wide receiver Michael Westbrook in the third.

The Redskins produced three sustained touchdown drives. They held the ball for more than 39 minutes and converted 11 of 17 third-down chances, and they have totaled 62 points in their past two games after managing only 32 points in their first five.

"That's what our offense is right now," said Banks, who threw a late interception but completed 15 of 23 passes for 152 yards. "We have to be efficient and not turn the ball over. We want to sustain drives and put the ball in the guy's hands who can do something with it."

The Seahawks (3-4) got a 41-yard touchdown run by tailback Shaun Alexander in the first quarter. But quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted by cornerback Champ Bailey and safety David Terrell, leading to a pair of Brett Conway field goals for the Redskins, and fumbled deep in Washington territory before being benched at halftime by Coach Mike Holmgren with Seattle trailing 20-7.

Trent Dilfer threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darrell Jackson late in the third quarter but could not complete the comeback. Redskins safety Sam Shade sealed the outcome with just over two minutes to play when he intercepted a Dilfer pass.

The Redskins had four sacks -- one by defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson, two by Bruce Smith and one by fellow defensive end Marco Coleman, who forced Hasselbeck's fumble. Smith has three sacks in two games since returning from a shoulder injury. He aggravated that injury yesterday, and Lang briefly was forced to the sideline by a knee sprain. But the Redskins were hopeful neither injury is serious.

"When you have points on the board, it puts the other team in a one-dimensional offense," Smith said. "When we have that, we're able to do what we do best and rush the quarterback."

The Redskins were sharp from their first drive, when they went 71 yards for a touchdown. Davis ran for 12 yards on the first play, and had an 11-yard romp to Seattle's 39-yard line. After a two-yard run by Davis on first down, Banks faked a handoff and an end around and found open fullback Bryan Johnson along the left sideline for a 29-yard completion to the 8.

Rasby -- filling in for starting tight end Stephen Alexander, who remains sidelined by a high ankle sprain but could return for the Denver game -- had a second-down pass bounce off his hands. But on third down, Banks pump faked to the right and dumped the ball to Rasby, who was wide open at the 5. Rasby eased into the end zone, and the Redskins had the early lead.

The Seahawks responded quickly. Hasselbeck avoided a rush and sidearmed a throw to wide receiver Bobby Engram for 26 yards. Tight end Christian Fauria made a diving catch for an 11-yard gain. On a second-and-nine play from the Redskins 41, Shaun Alexander took a handoff and ran wide right. Bailey dove at the running back's feet but couldn't tackle him, and Alexander cut to the inside, around Shade, and sprinted to the end zone, running through a tackle attempt by Terrell.

After an interception by Bailey led to a 43-yard field goal by Conway, the Seahawks again were accommodating. On their second play, Hasselbeck threw a quick screen to Jackson, who bobbled the ball. Terrell dove and caught the carom at the Seahawks 29. Banks connected with wide receiver Rod Gardner for 18 yards. The Redskins stalled, but Conway's 23-yard field goal made it 13-7 nine seconds into the second quarter.

On the Redskins' next possession, they turned to Davis nine times on a punishing 13-play touchdown drive. On third down from the Seahawks 1, Davis got stopped in the middle of the line but managed to push the pile across the goal line for the Redskins' first rushing touchdown since Bailey had one on a gimmick play in last season's finale.

A 49-yard catch and run by wide receiver James Williams got Seattle to the Redskins 5 with just over a minute remaining before halftime. But on the next play, Hasselbeck dropped the ball on a sack by Coleman, and Arrington recovered.

Arrington got hurt on the opening play of the second half, but the Redskins forced a punt and crafted another lengthy touchdown drive. Banks had scrambles of 17 and 15 yards. Carter provided a 12-yard run, and Banks zipped an on-target throw to an open Westbrook in the middle of the field on a third-and-seven play from the Seattle 13 for the touchdown.

Dilfer got the Seahawks to 27-14 late in the third quarter after being sacked by tackle Dan Wilkinson for an eight-yard loss to the Redskins 46. Jackson found a seam in the Redskins' zone defense and caught Dilfer's pass in front of veteran cornerback Darrell Green, and eluded Green and Terrell en route to the end zone.

The Seahawks forced a punt and moved to the Redskins 33, but Dilfer threw an incompletion on fourth and seven. Seattle had two more fourth-quarter possessions, the first of which produced a punt and the second of which ended with Shade's interception.

"We have a lot of work left to do," Wilkinson said. "But we've put ourselves in position to be able to do some things."

© 2001 The Washington Post Company