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Victory Is Out of Reach

Offense Goes Nowhere; Packers' Favre Injures Knee: Packers 30, Redskins 9

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 21, 2002; Page D01

GREEN BAY, Wis., Oct. 20 -- The Washington Redskins threatened to change the complexion of the NFC Super Bowl chase today at Lambeau Field, but failed to get their own season headed in the proper direction. Linebacker LaVar Arrington knocked quarterback Brett Favre out of the Green Bay Packers' lineup with a knee injury. But the Redskins again sputtered on offense with rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey in charge and lost, 30-9, before a stadium-record crowd of 63,363.

Coach Steve Spurrier didn't harshly criticize his club afterward this time, but said he will consider another starting quarterback change -- from Ramsey to Shane Matthews. The Redskins (2-4) had their chances to beat one of the NFC's best teams. But they mixed fumbles, penalties and sacks with some off-target throws by Ramsey, and managed only three field goals by kicker James Tuthill. They also played most of the second half without left tackle Chris Samuels, who reinjured his left ankle and suffered a pinched nerve in his shoulder and was replaced by Alex Sulfsted.

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"We've played two solid games this year and four lousy games," Spurrier said. "There hasn't been much in between. . . . It's frustrating, but I got all mad last week. I can't get all mad every week."

The Packers (6-1) couldn't feel too good about their win, however, after Favre limped off following a sack by Arrington early in the third quarter. It was only the fourth time during Favre's streak of 164 consecutive games that he failed to finish what he started. Doug Pederson polished off the victory, and Coach Mike Sherman said he didn't believe Favre's knee had suffered structural damage. Tailback Ahman Green rushed for 88 yards and three touchdowns, but the Packers know the value of the only three-time most valuable player in league history. Favre is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Monday.

The Redskins trailed 17-9 after Tuthill's third field goal followed Favre's exit. But that was as close as they got, as the frustrations mounted on a day in which they had 11 penalties to go with six fumbles -- five of them by Ramsey. Ramsey completed only 10 of 24 passes for 135 yards in his second NFL start, and was sacked six times.

"As soon as we got something going, things just fell apart," said wide receiver Kevin Lockett, who had the Redskins' other fumble.

Defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said: "We found a way to lose a ballgame again, and that's frustrating.''

Spurrier has used three starting quarterbacks in six games. Now he might go back to his original choice, Matthews, with Danny Wuerffel still nursing a shoulder injury.

"We'll look at it," said Spurrier, who said he overruled suggestions by his assistant coaches to pull Ramsey today. "If Patrick needs a little rest from the action to get his confidence back, then that's what we'll do. We'll put the quarterback out there that will help us win the game. . . . I'm not fiddling. You give me an all-pro quarterback, and we won't have to fiddle around."

The Packers were without five defensive starters, and the Redskins moved the ball smoothly on their opening drive but had to settle for Tuthill's 25-yard field goal and a 3-0 advantage.

Favre and Green responded immediately by leading the Packers on a 69-yard touchdown drive. On first down at the Redskins 24, strong safety Sam Shade blitzed but he couldn't corral Green, who darted past middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and ran through the tackle attempt of free safety David Terrell to get into the end zone.

The Redskins used Packers' penalties to get to within a point. Safety Marques Anderson was called for roughing Ramsey to give the Redskins a first down following a third-and-seven incompletion. Cornerback Tod McBride was called for illegal contact to wipe out an interception by Anderson, and a third-and-four offside penalty on end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila gave the Redskins a first down at the Green Bay 29.

But Gbaja-Biamila maneuvered around tight end Walter Rasby to sack Ramsey after the rookie quarterback couldn't find anyone open during a long stay in the pocket. Two incompletions later, the Redskins sent the punt team on the field. But with the wind behind them, they reconsidered and waved on Tuthill, who was true from 53 yards to get the Redskins to within a point.

The Redskins' defense returned the Packers' generosity, however, being called for three penalties on a third-and-two play from the Washington 43 in which Favre floated a deep pass to wide receiver Donald Driver. Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot tried to recover after Driver got behind him, and pulled down Driver by the face mask at the Redskins 8 as the ball arrived. He was called for pass interference and a face-mask personal foul, giving the Packers a first down at the 3. Green Bay declined a holding penalty on cornerback Darrell Green on the play.

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