Special effects draw negative reviews

Two returns for TDs leave unit's coach embarrassed

Redskins notebook

October 15, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Twenty-four hours didn't change the disappointment for Mike Stock.

A day after the Washington Redskins dropped a 43-27 decision to the New Orleans Saints at FedEx Field, the club's special teams coach was still smarting over his unit's inability to prevent Michael Lewis from becoming the first player in Saints history to return a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in one game.

"This is for me obviously an embarrassing situation because normally we've been pretty good," said Stock, a 13-year coach who is in his second season with Washington. "We've been strong and pretty confident in every capacity, but we had two breakdowns in two areas."

The Redskins hadn't allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown since the 2000 season opener, when Carolina's Michael Bates ran 92 yards for a score.

But Lewis ended the string with a perfectly timed 90-yard sprint down the left sideline with 10:26 left in the second quarter of Sunday's game - just minutes after running back Stephen Davis had scored on a 1-yard run to put Washington on the board at 20-7.

Lewis squelched another Redskins rally 1:56 into the third quarter when he ran along the right sideline on an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown to give the Saints a 36-21 lead.

On both occasions, he ran behind a wall that allowed him to go untouched into the end zone. Washington linebacker Eddie Mason, one of the leaders of the special teams unit, said the coverage teams didn't take up their assignments.

"Everybody has a place to fit," he said. "If you don't fill those gaps, seams are created. Lewis was able to find those seams, and he hit us for some big ones."

Last season, the Redskins finished second in the NFL in kickoff coverage, as opponents' average starts were at the 25.7-yard line. This year, they are 30th, with teams starting at the 32-yard line.

Stai might not play

Another assistant coach who could have commiserated with Stock was offensive line coach Kim Helton.

After watching the Redskins' front five surrender seven sacks to the Saints, Helton could only shake his head at the news that right guard Brenden Stai may not play Sunday against Green Bay because of a knee injury.

But, said Helton, "In this business and in this league, you have to learn to put the one you just lost or the one you just won behind you and go on."

If Stai - who characterized his injury as quadriceps tendinitis that has radiated through his left knee - cannot play, Helton said Kipp Vickers, who is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, could be ready to take Stai's place.

Ramsey cringes

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey gave a thumbs down to his four-interception, seven-sack outing after reviewing the game on tape yesterday.

"There was no way it was pretty," the rookie said. "That was one that you dreaded to watch the film. But you've got ... to learn from it."

Ramsey did have some fine moments as he completed 21 of 43 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown and ran for another.

But coach Steve Spurrier said he needs to learn when to run out of the pocket when the pressure is too intense.

"A couple times, I sort of wished Patrick may have just gone ahead and run up in there for 5 or 6 yards, get what you can, and dive forward," Spurrier said. "I think at some point he needs to learn how to do that."

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