'Skins try to change tune, but still end on sour note

Giants score 14 straight in 4th quarter to put away winless Washington, 23-9

NFL Week 4

October 08, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer says that in order for his team to be successful, it needs to play in concert.

The problem, though, as displayed in yesterday's 23-9 loss to the New York Giants, is that at the moments when one or two parts are performing a Wagnerian opera, one or two or more parts play like a Spike Jones novelty tune.

The Redskins' defense, which surrendered more than 500 yards to the Kansas City Chiefs in last week's 45-13 trouncing, kept the Giants in check for most of the day, even with one of its leaders, defensive end Bruce Smith, going out of the game on the first New York play from scrimmage with a badly dislocated shoulder.

And the special teams, which have had key breakdowns throughout the year, responded with their best overall game, with significant returns and a 55-yard field goal.

But most of yesterday's failures came on offense, where the Redskins, for the third game this season, failed to produce a touchdown, even as the New York defense gave them chances to score.

"We had some opportunities that we missed," Schottenheimer said. "We dropped some balls. We didn't throw it accurately enough. And yet, by comparison, the guy sitting in the winning locker room [Giants quarterback Kerry Collins], he was efficient, his kicking game was efficient and that's what we have to do. It has to be our football team. We have to develop an ability to play in concert."

Redskins quarterback Tony Banks, in his second Washington start, was far from crisp, going 13-for-31 for 151 yards and two costly fourth-quarter interceptions, both by Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn.

"We're not a good enough team to not be hitting on all cylinders. We're going to need that effort, like we had [yesterday] every week," said Banks. "You have to be able to make plays and get the ball down the field. When you're not able to get the ball down the field, it affects everybody."

While both of Sehorn's interceptions ended Washington drives, the second was by far the more costly, coming with 3:07 to go and the Redskins trailing 16-9 at their own 28. On first down, Banks looked in the left flat for receiver Kevin Lockett, only to see Sehorn step in front and run the interception back 34 yards for the insurance score.

"I was maybe six inches behind Kevin," Banks said. "With a good corner like that, he basically knew the route. It was a matter of me being able to put it in a place where he couldn't get it. He was able to get a hand on it."

Said Sehorn: "I was able to get my hand on the ball, but it came with a lot greater speed. I saw that ball coming and I figured I could get my hand on it to slow it down, but I bobbled it, caught it and took off."

In his defense, Banks was hurried nearly all afternoon and was sacked four times, as the Giants defense penetrated the Washington offensive line. Stephen Davis, who averaged nearly five yards a carry last week, ran for only 39 yards on 12 rushes. And the Redskins receivers had trouble hanging onto the ball on a windy day, as both Stephen Alexander and Rod Gardner had key drops.

"I think it's just mistakes here and there. We might have 10 guys on one play doing their assignments and doing everything correctly, but there's one guy messing up. On offense, you can't do that. We have to be a unit and everybody has to stay on the same page,`" said offensive tackle Chris Samuels.

Still, with all the offensive futility, the Redskins (0-4) hung in with the defending NFC champs. They tied the score at 9 with 3:29 left in the third, thanks to the special teams, which gave the team good field position all day, and the defense, which held the Giants (3-1) to 309 total yards.

Collins, though efficient, was hardly spectacular, as he was 15-for-29 for 177 yards and a touchdown. The Giants played without halfback Tiki Barber, who missed the game with a hamstring ailment. And former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne ran for only 39 yards on 16 carries before missing most of the second half with a sprained neck.

But rookie Damon Washington picked up the slack, running for 90 yards on 25 carries, 50 of them coming on the Giants' first scoring drive.

"When you lose your fourth game and you can bring something positive out it, I think that's a good sign. I can't wait to play with these guys next week and get out there and play ball," said safety Keith Lyle. `There's a lot of heart and a lot of fire on this team. We didn't quit. We played hard to the end.

"Things didn't go our way, but we didn't lose 37-0 or 45-13. We lost, but we made it a game. We're not going to be out here all the time just trying to make it a game. We're going to try to win."

All the effort, however, led to the same outcome the Redskins have known all season.

"There are some positives, but what are you going to look at? We lost the game. We're 0-4. We have offensive players who are not playing up to their capabilities," Davis said. "There are a lot of things that we have to work on. We keep saying that every week, and we have to work on it every week and do what it takes to get the job done."

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