By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 20, 2005
The boos came pouring down from the stands by Washington's third drive after the latest errant pass from Patrick Ramsey. But on the Redskins' next possession, just when the 60,291 spectators at FedEx Field had seemingly tired of waiting for Ramsey to solidify his position as the starting quarterback, he turned the catcalls into cheers with his first touchdown of the season. However, Ramsey couldn't keep the cheers -- or the scoring -- coming during a roller-coaster performance in Washington's 24-17 preseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last night.
For every strong, deep throw, Ramsey had equally horrific passes that made Cincinnati's defenders seem like receivers. He threw two critical interceptions and completed 9 for 18 passes for 190 yards with one touchdown.
"We'll probably look at the film tomorrow and see some real good things, but right now we're our own worst enemy," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "If you don't protect the football up here, you're going to lose football games.
"Patrick is going to see that he made some real good things. He hit some deep balls and made some key plays for us, and that's partly what I'm referring to. And then he turned the ball over. We can't do that and Patrick knows that."
Ramsey played the entire first half and ended his performance by spearheading a late drive that led to a 20-yard field goal, cutting Cincinnati's lead to 14-10 at halftime. But the strong finish occurred against a prevent defense replete with reserves. Ramsey's favorite receiver was David Patten, who had three catches for 109 yards including a best of 46 yards. (Throwing to everyone else, Ramsey was 6 for 15 for 81 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.)
"If we can do what we did tonight without the turnovers, then we'd score a lot of points," Ramsey said. "And I think it's a successful night for all of us. But those turnovers killed us. It negates really what we did."
To complicate matters at quarterbacks, Mark Brunell had his second solid if unspectacular showing. Brunell was 10 of 16 despite several drops by Washington's reserve wideouts. Brunell (122 yards) played the entire second half, even though Gibbs originally had intended to split the time among his three quarterbacks, including rookie Jason Campbell. But Gibbs said he chose to let the offense get into a rhythm with Brunell.
"Mark both weeks has been real competitive, [he] jumps in there," Gibbs said. "I'm glad for him because I think our fans and everybody is getting a chance to see him healthy. And I think he's got his legs under him. I think he's quick. He's pumped some balls when it's had to.
"It's good for him. It's good for us, because I think it gives us somebody solidly behind Patrick there."
Brunell was helped by rookie tailback Nehemiah Broughton, whose 68 all-purpose yards made him the main thing fans could cheer about in the second half.
Washington's running game, which was mediocre last week, improved behind Ladell Betts (six carries for 30 yards) in the first half. Betts started instead of Clinton Portis, who sat out as a precaution because of an inflamed elbow.
Bolstered by the return of defensive end Phillip Daniels and cornerback Shawn Springs -- and safety Sean Taylor, who made his first start of the preseason -- the first unit of Washington's defense was stingy. "We wanted to come out and start fast," said linebacker Lemar Marshall. "I believe we did that."
But Washington's reserve defenders -- who entered in the second quarter -- let Cincinnati's offense, led by first-string quarterback Carson Palmer, get untracked. Rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers made his NFL debut with mixed results, snagging an interception that led to Ramsey's only touchdown, but allowing a 45-yard touchdown to wideout Kelley Washington.
But those areas were almost an afterthought to Washington's offensive production, particularly at quarterback. During last week's 28-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Ramsey couldn't generate any points in five drives. And the spectators who filled FedEx Field last night seemed to analyze Ramsey's every pass.
Ramsey received a smattering of boos on Washington's unsuccessful first drive. On his third drive, on second and seven from Cincinnati's 48-yard line, Ramsey overthrew Patten and heard about it from the crowd. "Quarterbacks . . . have [to have] a tough outer shell," Gibbs said.
Rogers ended Cincinnati's ensuing drive, intercepting Palmer on second and 11 at the Bengals 44 and returning the ball to the Bengals 25.
Ramsey quickly got back on the fans' good side, throwing a tight spiral to reserve wide receiver James Thrash, who crouched at the back of the end zone before snagging the ball. The pass -- which occurred after Ramsey threw five incompletions on his first six passes -- gave Washington a 7-0 lead with less than two minutes left in the first quarter.
Ramsey seemed to build on the scoring drive on Washington's next possession early in the second quarter. On first and 10 from the Washington 41-yard line, Ramsey threw a perfect pass just over safety Kim Herring to Patten near the right sideline. The 46-yard reception put Washington in prime position -- at the Cincinnati 13-yard line -- to increase the score and Ramsey's confidence.
But on second and eight from the Cincinnati 11-yard line, Ramsey's underthrown ball to Thrash was snagged by cornerback Tory James.
Ramsey's nadir came later, on first and 10 from the Cincinnati 38-yard line midway through the second quarter, when he floated a ball directly to James with Santana Moss several yards away.
Bad Ramsey turned into good Ramsey after Gibbs left him in late in the second quarter. But even the eight-play, 68-yard drive that ended in a field goal couldn't answer Washington's questions at quarterback.