Losing Has Stopped, but the Penalties Have Not

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 25, 2006

HOUSTON, Sept. 24 -- By the time the third quarter ended, the Washington Redskins led by 21 points and the game did not seem to be in doubt. But as the Redskins prepare to play tougher opponents -- Jacksonville at FedEx Field on Sunday and at Giants Stadium the following week against New York -- over the next two weeks, the offense, defense and special teams all continue to struggle with penalties.

Despite the emphasis coaches have placed on limiting mental mistakes, the Redskins were flagged 12 times for 126 yards.

The Redskins entered the game the second-most penalized team in the league behind Dallas, and since the Cowboys did not play this weekend, the Redskins likely will begin the week atop a category they'd prefer not to be leading.

"I'm disappointed in the penalties. I'm still mystified by it," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "We have to focus on this in practice because those things can come out and hurt us."

In the first half, the Redskins were penalized eight times for 64 yards, a problem that started as quickly as the game began when Demetric Evans was called for holding on the kickoff.

On the kickoff after the Texans' first touchdown, linebackers Rocky McIntosh and Jeff Posey each were flagged for penalties.

Defensively, Mike Rumph, Carlos Rogers and Warrick Holdman all were called for penalties, while in the second quarter, tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen were called for holding on the same play.

Even when the Redskins were playing positively, penalties were not far from them. On a drive that ended with his one-yard touchdown, Clinton Portis was hit with a 15-yard personal foul for taunting. The play came with 11 minutes 31 seconds left in the third quarter, when Portis rushed outside for seven yards. As he was brought down near the sideline by linebacker DeMeco Ryans, Portis spun the football near Ryans's face.

In addition to a holding penalty, which was declined, Samuels was called for two false-start penalties.

"I don't know, man," Samuels said. "It's just something I have to work on. It's a concentration thing, about not being as focused as you need to be. That's something you don't want to have on you, because you end up hurting yourself."

Still Not at Full Strength

Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a was inactive because of an injured left calf. Salave'a, who was injured against Dallas, did not practice during the week. The injury continued a disturbing trend for the Redskins, who have yet to play a game with their projected starting lineup. Salave'a is the third Redskins defensive regular to miss time this season, joining defensive end Renaldo Wynn, who missed the season opener, and cornerback Shawn Springs, who has not played this season.

Duckett Is the Odd Man Out

T.J. Duckett's first month as a Redskin has not been promising. After not appearing in the season opener against Minnesota and carrying five times for 24 yards against Dallas, Duckett was inactive Sunday.

Without Duckett, the Redskins rushed 41 times for 234 yards and three touchdowns. Clinton Portis rushed for 86 yards with a long of 30, while Ladell Betts, who started the first two games when Portis was injured, rushed for a career-high 124 yards on 16 carries.

Gibbs said the decision to leave Duckett inactive was because he was concerned about the health of the Redskins' tight ends -- Christian Fauria and Todd Yoder have fought injuries -- and wanted to maintain offensive flexibility in their tight end sets.

"T.J. was great about it," Gibbs said. "I hated to do it."

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