After a Slew of Penalties, Redskins May Need a Timeout

Antwaan Randle El high-steps his way past the Colts' Mike Doss after getting blocking from Vernon Fox, left, and Ade Jimoh on the way to an 87-yard kickoff return that gave the Redskins a 14-10 lead.
Antwaan Randle El high-steps his way past the Colts' Mike Doss after getting blocking from Vernon Fox, left, and Ade Jimoh on the way to an 87-yard kickoff return that gave the Redskins a 14-10 lead. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)

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By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 23, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 22 -- The Washington Redskins took self-destructive penalties to a new level of absurdity in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts at the RCA Dome. They followed their high point of the day -- taking the lead on an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown by Antwaan Randle El late in the first half -- by having to kick off from their 5-yard line because of three penalties in rapid-fire succession.

"I've never seen that before," Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said.

It wasn't only that the Redskins continued to hurt themselves with mistakes by being penalized 10 times, compared with three times for the Colts. It was the timing and nature of the penalties. A second-quarter scoring opportunity was lost when wide receiver Santana Moss head-butted Colts cornerback Jason David in retaliation for what he thought was a late hit by David that went uncalled. Then Randle El got an excessive-celebration penalty following his punt-return touchdown, and punter Derrick Frost followed soon thereafter with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for ripping off his helmet to yell at an official.

"We're putting ourselves in stupid positions," tailback Clinton Portis said. "We know we can't have penalties. We know we can't have five-yard penalties, much less 15-yard penalties."

Said cornerback Shawn Springs: "We're not good enough to have penalties. We have to eliminate those things. We can't have penalties and turnovers. I don't think we had any turnovers today, but we can't have the penalties."

Gibbs took the blame.

"That's my responsibility," he said. "All those things are."

But several players said the Redskins' reputation for committing penalties may be preceding them.

"I think officials sometimes come into the game, if a team is known for penalties and there's kind of one in a gray area, they may throw the flag," linebacker Marcus Washington said. But "you have to be smart. You have to eliminate the penalties."

Said guard Randy Thomas: "You like to be aggressive. You like to be tough and hard-nosed. But you've got to know when enough is enough. You can hurt your team. But it's got to be equal, you know what I mean?"

On a third-and-eight play from the Colts 9-yard line in the second quarter, Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell dropped the ball in the pocket with no one around him. He fell on the fumble for a seven-yard loss.

But it got worse for the Redskins because David plowed into Moss as the play ended. Moss reacted angrily and head-butted David in retaliation. The officials called a 15-yard unnecessary roughness personal foul on Moss.


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