-- The Washington Redskins' defense has shown promise during the preseason under Gregg Williams, the assistant head coach-defense, after floundering last year (ranking 25th in the 32-team league). Employing blitzes with abandon, the first team hadn't allowed a touchdown in the first three preseason games. Conversely, the St. Louis Rams' offense had sputtered, with the starting unit not scoring a touchdown.
Washington viewed Friday night's game as a test because of the Rams' highly skilled, ultra-quick players such as wideouts Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce and tailback Marshall Faulk. But Washington's defense struggled against the "Greatest Show on Turf" -- as the Rams vaunted offense is known -- during a 28-3 loss at Edward Jones Dome.
Washington, which had confounded quarterbacks with well-disguised blitzes during its first three games, was often exploited when it tried to pressure the St. Louis quarterbacks. Despite constant blitzes against a patched offensive line, the Redskins rarely pressured St. Louis's quarterbacks. Holt caught seven passes for 143 yards, including two touchdowns, in less than two quarters.
The Rams' offense had generated just 13 point in its previous two preseason games.
"They are a very speedy group of guys," said Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs. "Coming in, we felt like this was going to be a test for us because they are fast."
In the third quarter, on first and 10 from the Redskins 35-yard line, Rams backup quarterback Chris Chandler completed a 35-yard pass to wideout Shaun McDonald, who beat cornerback Ade Jimoh and brushed aside cornerback Ralph Brown's tackle to scamper into the end zone.
Washington's starters didn't fare much better. Holt torched Washington's secondary in the second quarter, with a performance that included a 58-yard reception against cornerback Fred Smoot to set up a touchdown. Holt used his speed to find a seam between Smoot and safety Sean Taylor before hauling in Chandler's perfect pass and taking the ball to Washington's 1-yard line. On the next play, Chandler scored on a quarterback sneak to give St. Louis a 14-3 lead.
Betts Makes Debut
After being plagued with a hamstring injury for much of training camp, running back Ladell Betts made his preseason debut in a bid to make the team. Betts showed flashes of the talent that made him a 2002 second-round pick, yet didn't return after a first-quarter appearance, apparently because of his injury.
Betts rushed four times for 15 yards. He helped the Redskins take a 3-0 lead, filling in for Clinton Portis on Washington's first drive. Betts's best run came on first and 10 from the Washington 42-yard line. He sprinted off right tackle for 10 yards to the St. Louis 48-yard line.
Samuels Apparently Okay
With right tackle Jon Jansen out for the season after rupturing his right Achilles' tendon, the Redskins breathed a sigh of relief when X-rays for left tackle Chris Samuels's sprained ankle were negative. With about nine minutes left in the second quarter, Samuels, who was on crutches after the game with his ankle in a walking cast, suffered the injury after tailback Rock Cartwright fell on him near the line of scrimmage. Samuels left the game and didn't return.
"It looked worse than it was, but I'll tell you it was very painful," said Samuels, who ruled out missing the season opener on Sept. 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "Right when I did it I thought it was very bad and had [an] X-ray, and after I put ice on it, it feels a lot better."
Air Coryell Flies In
Don Coryell, the legendary offensive mastermind, returned to St. Louis for Friday night's game. Coryell created the famed "Air Coryell" passing attack, which heavily influenced many NFL coaches, particularly Gibbs and St. Louis Coach Mike Martz.
Gibbs got his start as an assistant under Coryell at San Diego State, then worked for Coryell in St. Louis and San Diego before turning into a Hall of Fame head coach by winning three Super Bowls in Washington. Martz, who invited Coryell, 79, to the game, installed the framework of Coryell's offense after joining St. Louis in 1999.
Coryell's top assistant in San Diego was Ernie Zampese, who Gibbs has hired for his second NFL stint as an offensive consultant.
"He meant a lot to me," Gibbs said of Coryell. "No ego, nicest person, but yet he was so intense that he portrayed that in everybody. He got ready to coach the game as if he was going to play. And he could portray that to the players. So the players knew he was for real. " . . .
LaVar Arrington (left knee sprain) headlined a slew of Redskins who didn't make the trip because of injuries. Linebacker Mike Barrow (knee), tight end Fred Baxter (knee), linebacker Chris Clemons (hamstring), defensive end Phillip Daniels (abdominal strain), cornerback Walt Harris (calf) and offensive lineman Dwayne Morgan (knee) also did not play.