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Two More Points to Make

Redskins Get Onside Kick, Touchdown, Not Conversion

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 6, 2003; Page D01

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 5 -- The Washington Redskins got exactly what they wanted. The Philadelphia Eagles blitzed. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles ran a corner route, cutting toward the sideline in the end zone, and lost Philadelphia cornerback Roderick Hood. But quarterback Patrick Ramsey's throw for a two-point conversion sailed high over Coles's head, and a furious late comeback fell short as the Redskins lost to the Eagles, 27-25, today in front of 67,792 at Lincoln Financial Field.

"Laveranues was wide open, and I missed the throw," Ramsey said. "It was as simple as that."

Bryan Johnson comes off the field after recovering John Hall's onside kick with 1:13 left. The Redskins then drove 57 yards in five plays to score. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

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It was no consolation to the Redskins that they had put a fourth-quarter scare into the two-time defending NFC East champions, that they nearly had erased an 11-point deficit in the last three minutes. The Redskins (3-2) knew that they had undone themselves again with mistakes, committing 11 penalties and handing the Eagles (2-2) two touchdowns on interceptions. They knew that they had fallen from atop the NFC East standings. They knew that their record against division foes under Coach Steve Spurrier had plummeted to 1-7.

"We shot ourselves in the foot again," Coles said. "Coach Spurrier told us we have to look in the mirror and find a way to get it out of our system."

The Eagles got their first win at their new stadium, but needed some help. Ramsey's sprained left shoulder was aggravated when he was slammed to the ground on a first-quarter sack, and he set up a Philadelphia touchdown with a second-quarter interception. A third-quarter Ramsey screen pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Eagles defensive end N.D. Kalu.

But Ramsey just kept firing against a Philadelphia defense missing three starters in its secondary, and the Redskins didn't quit as they played their fifth consecutive game this season decided by three points or fewer. Tailback Brian Westbrook's 19-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes 10 seconds left gave the Eagles a 27-16 advantage. But place kicker John Hall's fourth field goal of the day, a 53-yarder, got the Redskins within eight points with 1:14 left. After they recovered Hall's onside kick, Ramsey threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darnerien McCants with 13 seconds to go.

But Ramsey -- who completed 25 of 50 passes for 271 yards -- misfired on the conversion attempt, and the Redskins had to settle for coming close against an Eagles team that had beaten them soundly twice last season.

"The bottom line is, we didn't play well enough to beat the Eagles," Spurrier said. "It's frustrating watching the way we play. . . . We basically gave them two touchdowns. The Eagles are good enough that you can't spot them a couple touchdowns. . . . I don't know what to say. I'm frustrated with a lot of these guys, and they're probably frustrated with me."

The Redskins came out throwing, but not effectively. Ramsey threw too high toward tight end Robert Royal for an incompletion on the game's first snap. He threw a second-down incompletion, then got only four yards on a third-and-10 screen pass to tailback Trung Canidate. The Redskins punted to end their first three possessions.

A 54-yard run by quarterback Donovan McNabb on the Eagles' opening drive was negated by a holding penalty on tight end Chad Lewis. The Eagles broke through on their second possession when place kicker David Akers drilled a 52-yard field goal for a 3-0 edge. The Eagles were aided when Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington was called for a 15-yard roughing-the-quarterback penalty for a light shove of McNabb, and tight end L.J. Smith absorbed a hard hit from safety Matt Bowen but held on to a pass from McNabb for a 25-yard gain.

McNabb tried for more late in the first quarter, but his deep pass for wide receiver James Thrash was intercepted by Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot. Ramsey returned the favor immediately, though. His short pass to Coles came in high and hard, and bounced off Coles's hands to Hood for an interception.

The Eagles took over at the Redskins 18-yard line, and needed five plays to get into the end zone. McNabb completed a three-yard pass to Smith on third and one from the Redskins 9, and slipped the ball to Jon Ritchie for the touchdown from the 4 as the fullback got a step on Arrington.

The Redskins drove into Philadelphia territory but had to punt. McNabb helped them out when he threw the ball into middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter's arms while aiming toward wide receiver Freddie Mitchell. The former Eagle made the interception and rumbled to the Philadelphia 1. The Redskins needed three plays but got into the end zone on a sneak by Ramsey, who held the ball across the goal line before being pushed backward.

Mitchell broke a tackle by Redskins third cornerback Rashad Bauman to turn a medium-range completion into a 39-yard gain. That put the Eagles on their way to another field goal. Westbrook followed Mitchell's catch with a 13-yard run, and wideout Todd Pinkston beat Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey on a slant pattern and hauled in McNabb's throw for a 17-yard gain on third and 11. That got the Eagles to the Redskins 5, but they moved backward and had to settle for Akers's 36-yard kick.

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