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Best and Worst

Monday, October 4, 2004; Page D14

Worst Loss: The Browns entered the game with a host of starters out with injuries and losers of two straight against NFC East teams (Cowboys, Giants). The Redskins entered the game off a heartbreaking loss to the Cowboys and should have been motivated to beat the Browns senseless. But when they needed it most yesterday, both execution and emotion seemed sorely lacking, and Washington fell farther into last place in the division at 1-3.

Worst Assumption: The Redskins figured to have success running the ball between the tackles. Cleveland was without starting linemen Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren. The Browns' defense ranked 25th in the league and yielded 110 rushing yards per game. It never happened. Clinton Portis managed 58 yards on 20 carries. The Redskins had 73 yards rushing as a team.

Game Day: Browns 17, Redskins 13
 Brunell
Fumbles by Clinton Portis and Laveranues Coles prove costly and the Redskins fall to 1-3 for the season.
Michael Wilbon: It's going to take Joe Gibbs a while.
News Graphic: Anemic offensive numbers tell the story so far.
Gibbs is alarmed by the propensity for turnovers and penalties.
Ground game fails to click, with Clinton Portis held to 58 yards.
News Graphic: Offensive numbers only slightly better than last season.
Lee Suggs's return takes the pressure off Cleveland's Jeff Garcia.
Notebook: Kick returner Chad Morton held out of Sunday.
Play of the Game: Coles fumbles late, sealing Redskins' fate.
Best & Worst

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Worst Defense: Cleveland entered the game ranked 28th in total offense (246 yards per game) and third-to-last in passing (131 yards per game). But the Browns were able to move the ball against Washington when they had to and finished with 280 total yards, including 184 passing.

Worst Use of Timeouts: After confusion reigned last week against the Cowboys and forced Washington to use timeouts early in the second half, it was more of the same yesterday. First, the Redskins lost a challenge on the first play of the third quarter and were charged with a timeout. Two possessions later, quarterback Mark Brunell called a timeout at the line of scrimmage on third down and 12. That left Washington with one timeout with close to a quarter and a half to play.

Worst Way to End a Drive: The Redskins had used a time- consuming possession to march from their 22 to the Browns 18 in the first quarter. But from there, they managed five yards and had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from John Hall with 2 minutes 53 seconds to play.

Worst Hit: On first down and 10 from the Redskins 29, Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia threw an incompletion. Redskins safety Matt Bowen, however, launched himself at Garcia, connected on a helmet- to-helmet hit and was penalized for roughing the passer. That flagrant violation moved Cleveland to the 14. The Browns ended the possession with a field goal.

Worst Discipline: The Redskins committed four penalties in the first quarter, including two personal fouls. The first flagrant violation was against James Thrash, who as a member of the coverage team grabbed the face mask of kickoff returner Dee Brown. The second was Bowen's hit.

Best Drive: Behind an efficient mix of passing and running, the Redskins went 78 yards in 12 plays to take a 10-3 lead on Portis's one-yard run with 4:52 to play before intermission. The Redskins converted a fourth down and six late in the drive when Brunell completed a 30-yard pass to Laveranues Coles.

Worst Turnover I: After two seasons with Denver in which ball security was never an issue, Portis has become a fumbler through four games with the Redskins. Yesterday, he lost the ball while being tackled on the Redskins' first play of the third quarter. The Browns recovered at the Washington 31 and four plays later tied the game at 10.

Worst Turnover II: The normally reliable Coles is not off to the start he envisioned after making his first Pro Bowl last season. Yesterday Coles, who had some crucial drops last week, made a catch late in the game but lost the ball after he was spun around trying to break a tackle. The Browns recovered the fumble, returned it to the Washington 26 and then ran out the clock.

Worst Throw: The Redskins forced Garcia into one of his ugliest pass attempts of the season by bringing heavy pressure in the third quarter. Facing third down and 15 from his 33, Garcia flicked the ball forward meekly, drawing an intentional grounding penalty and Coach Butch Davis's ire.

Worst Hands: Redskins tight end Walter Rasby came wide open on the left side and had plenty of room to run on a pass play in the third quarter. But as the ball arrived, Rasby failed to secure it before turning to run and wasted an opportunity for a long gain.

Best Throw: Late in the third quarter, Brunell completed a 45-yard pass over the middle to Coles. The play was set up by a play-action fake to Portis, which allowed Coles to roam free in the secondary. Safety Robert Griffith made the touchdown-saving tackle.

-- Gene Wang


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