By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 25, 2006
ST. LOUIS, Dec. 24 -- In a game that did not have meaning in the standings for the Washington Redskins but was important for their continuing evaluation of personnel, rookie linebacker Rocky McIntosh made his first NFL start Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
McIntosh, 24, had worked out during the week at the strong side in practices when it appeared Marcus Washington would be out, but assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams did not commit during the week that McIntosh would start. Before the game, the team announced that Jeff Posey would replace Washington in the starting lineup, but when the game began, Williams shifted weak side linebacker Warrick Holdman to the strong side and started McIntosh.
In the first half, McIntosh made two nice plays. The first came when he tackled running back Steven Jackson behind the line on a screen pass. The second came when he closed space on an end-around to Kevin Curtis, turning what appeared to be a potential big gain into a seven-yard play.
McIntosh finished the game credited with eight solo tackles, tied for second with Andre Carter to strong safety Vernon Fox's nine.Highs, Lows for Duckett
T.J. Duckett scored his first touchdown as a Redskin in the first quarter, a five-yard run off left tackle. The score was important for two reasons. The first was that it provided a measure of enjoyment for Duckett, who has persevered through a difficult season.
The second came when the Redskins moved the ball downfield and capped a drive with a touchdown instead of a field goal. The Redskins, over the course of the season but especially in recent weeks, have suffered from an inability to finish drives with touchdowns.
But with Washington needing a first down in overtime, Duckett was unable to convert a third and one from the Redskins 15. Washington punted and the Rams won the game on their next possession.Very Special Teams
The Redskins special teams acquitted themselves well, blocking a punt for the second time this season. On fourth and 16 from their own 31, with the Redskins trailing 14-7, former Redskins punter Matt Turk had his punt blocked by Fox. Ladell Betts scored two plays later on a six-yard touchdown run.
It was a continuation of the special teams' strong play this year. Against Atlanta on Dec. 3, Rock Cartwright blocked a punt. In the Redskins' most thrilling game of the season, Troy Vincent blocked what would have been a game-winning field goal for the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 5.
In addition on Sunday, Shaun Suisham kicked a game-tying 52-yard field goal. . . .
Left defensive end Phillip Daniels left the game midway through the fourth quarter suffering from what the Redskins' medical staff referred to as throat spasms.
"It was scary," Daniels said. "My throat was clogged and I couldn't breathe. I was gasping for air. I don't know what it was. They say it happens from time to time. But it's never happened to me." . . .
On his return to St. Louis, safety Adam Archuleta did not play in any of the Redskins' defensive packages. Archuleta spent five years with the Rams, starting in 2001. . . .
Torry Holt's first-quarter reception marked the 120th consecutive game in which Holt has caught a pass. It is a Rams franchise record. . . .
Rams reserve safety Ronald Bartell, of Howard University, had four tackles and broke up one pass.