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Redskins Drop Another

Three Fumbles As Eagles Clinch NFC East Title

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 16, 2002; Page D01

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 15 -- The Washington Redskins were accommodating guests in their farewell to Veterans Stadium, losing three fumbles as the Philadelphia Eagles celebrated the final regular season game in their rickety old ballpark by clinching the NFC East title.

The Redskins ensured themselves a losing season by falling to the Eagles, 34-21, today before 65,615. The afternoon also may have produced the Redskins' unofficial goodbye to tailback Stephen Davis, whose season might have been ended by a dislocated right shoulder suffered when he fumbled on the second play of the game.

Antonio Pierce brings down Philadelphia's Cecil Martin, right, after a 53-yard pass reception in the second quarter that led to the Eagles' second touchdown. (George Widman - AP)

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Coach Steve Spurrier was left questioning the effort of some of his players after the Redskins (5-9) lost for the fifth time in six games.

"We're maybe not quite as good as that team over there, that green team, especially the way we play," Spurrier said. "We play with turnovers and we don't give ourselves a good chance. . . . I try not to criticize players. I don't think we were very sharp mentally. And effort-wise, I thought a lot of guys did, but maybe some did not, bust their tails."

The Redskins lost to the Eagles (11-3) for the second time this season and fell to 0-5 against NFC East opponents in Spurrier's first year. The tone was set early when Davis got free for sizable gains on the first two plays, but had the ball poked loose by safety Brian Dawkins on the second one. Davis landed on his shoulder. His day was finished. And, with only two games remaining, his seven-year Redskins tenure could be over, since he is likely to be released for salary cap reasons in the offseason.

Davis is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Monday, and Spurrier said the two-time Pro Bowl runner most likely is done. "They say it's a two-week injury," Spurrier said. "Sometimes they have surgery with those, and sometimes they don't. It's very unfortunate."

Davis said he hopes to play again, perhaps even next Sunday against the Houston Texans at FedEx Field. "I don't think it's my last carry" with the Redskins, he said.

Davis's fumble didn't cost the Redskins any points. But the Eagles converted a fumbled punt by Champ Bailey into a field goal, and got a key third-quarter touchdown when linebacker Carlos Emmons fell on the ball after a botched handoff from Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey to tailback Ladell Betts -- then, when no one touched him, got up and ran 44 yards to the end zone. Philadelphia later stretched its lead to 31-7 before Ramsey threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes.

Tailback Duce Staley had a touchdown catch and a touchdown run for the Eagles. Quarterback A.J. Feeley threw an interception but had 220 passing yards and two touchdown passes as the Eagles won their fourth straight game since losing star quarterback Donovan McNabb to a broken ankle. They are 3-0 with third-stringer Feeley at the helm after losing backup Koy Detmer to a dislocated elbow. Now they have their second straight division crown to savor.

"It is great," Coach Andy Reid said. "We also understand that you do not stop here."

The Redskins had to find their consolation in the play of Ramsey, who completed 23 of 35 passes for 213 yards in his third NFL start. He was sacked twice and hit hard numerous times, but didn't throw an interception. He threw three touchdown passes and kept his team from surrendering.

"I don't think he was fazed at any point in the game," guard Tre Johnson said. "He definitely has some outstanding leadership abilities. . . . We gave as good as we got as far as playing ball. But we beat ourselves with the turnovers."

On Davis's fumble, safety Michael Lewis made the recovery along the sideline. Davis was taken off the field on a cart after walking slowly to the sideline.

"I was trying to get extra yards and had the ball away from my body," Davis said. "He made a good play. I was trying to grab for it and when I fell, I had my arms out and my shoulder popped out."

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