False starts help finish 'Skins, 27-25

Offensive line flagged for 7 of team's 11 penalties as Washington slips to 3-2

Pro football

October 06, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - The NFC East continues to be unkind to the Washington Redskins.

Armed with a golden opportunity to create a sizable cushion between themselves and their divisional rivals, the Redskins offense slumbered its way through the first three quarters against the Philadelphia Eagles, and a last-gasp effort wasn't enough as Philadelphia won, 27-25, before 67,792 at Lincoln Financial Field yesterday.

Although the Dallas Cowboys had defeated the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Giants slipped to .500 after losing to the Miami Dolphins, and the Eagles were reeling from injuries.

But a lackluster showing from the league's fourth-ranked offense and 11 penalties - seven of which were false starts - doomed Washington, which fell to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in its division.

"We find a way to lose or they find a way to win," said coach Steve Spurrier, whose Redskins are 1-7 against NFC East opponents in the past two seasons. "We just find a way not to win against the Eagles and Giants. We think we can play with them, but just playing with them and winning are two different things."

Added middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, whose second-quarter interception led to Washington's first touchdown: "We had the opportunity to come in here [and do] something very good, and we blew it on penalties. Simple as that."

The Redskins added to their league-high 44 penalties with 11 yesterday. Linebacker LaVar Arrington's roughing-the-passer call that led to David Akers' 52-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead in the first quarter was questionable, but the offensive line committed seven false starts.

Rookie left guard Derrick Dockery - starting in place of Dave Fiore (knee) - committed three false starts, left tackle Chris Samuels two and right tackle Jon Jansen and tight end Robert Royal one each.

It was enough to provoke Spurrier into sarcastically stating that maybe quarterback Patrick Ramsey should refrain from calling any more audibles at the line of scrimmage.

"You've got a play called, and they're rushing eight guys. You just go back and get sacked and say, `Well, at least we didn't jump offsides,'" Spurrier said. "For some reason, when Patrick starts talking, somebody starts flinching."

If he had any answers for the offensive line's miscues, Jansen wasn't saying.

"I really do not know what to say, and it is probably better that I say nothing at this time," he said. "We need to communicate with one another better and fix the problems now. I know that I am being vague right now, but we have to communicate better."

The Eagles secondary - which was missing three Pro Bowl starters in cornerbacks Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent and free safety Brian Dawkins - stiffened to surrender just 112 passing yards in the first three quarters.

The defense even registered a touchdown when defensive end N.D. Kalu intercepted a deflected pass from Ramsey and returned it 15 yards for a 20-13 Eagles lead in the third quarter.

Washington's John Hall kicked a 37-yard field goal with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 20-16, but Philadelphia - aided by an unnecessary roughness penalty on defensive end Regan Upshaw - marched 70 yards on 11 plays and capped a 5-minute, 46-second drive with a 19-yard touchdown scamper by running back Brian Westbrook.

But after all that, the Redskins still found themselves with a chance. After Hall kicked his fourth field goal of the game with 1:19 left, Washington fullback Bryan Johnson recovered an onside kick at the Redskins' 43.

Five plays later, Ramsey (25-for-50 for 271 yards, two interceptions, two sacks and a 56.3 passer rating) connected with wide receiver Darnerien McCants (four receptions for a team-high 79 yards) on a 32-yard touchdown strike to make it a 27-25 game with 13 seconds left.

But with the Eagles blitzing on a two-point attempt, Ramsey overthrew an open Laveranues Coles (five catches for 60 yards) on a corner route to the right back corner of the end zone.

"Laveranues was wide open, and I missed the throw," Ramsey said glumly. "It wasn't a lack of touch, not adrenaline. I just missed the throw."

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