Redskins innovate, surprise Seahawks, 27-20, to end slide

Trick play, Jackson's calls lift Washington's morale

November 10, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - Some unfamiliar wrinkles produced an unfamiliar result for the Washington Redskins: a victory.

The Redskins used a trick play to produce a 10-yard, game-winning touchdown and benefited from coach Steve Spurrier's decision to hand the play-calling reins to offensive coordinator Hue Jackson yesterday, as Washington defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 27-20, before 80,728 at FedEx Field.

The victory over a Seattle team that had entered the game with the NFC West Division lead ended a four-game losing streak for the Redskins, who have been mired in a debate about their owner, their coach and their performance.

While beating the Seahawks (6-3) merely kept Washington (4-5) from sinking further into last place in the NFC East, the win at least gave a semblance of hope to an embattled franchise.

"Maybe this will give us a little momentum, confidence, whatever, to get a spark going," said Spurrier, who endured numerous questions about his job security last week. "We've got to hope it will."

The offense began to show signs of life, putting up 379 yards and converting two Seattle turnovers into 10 points.

One of those turnovers came when Redskins wide receiver Laveranues Coles stripped safety Damien Robinson of an interception at Washington's 2-yard line and guard Randy Thomas recovered the ball in the end zone to return possession to Washington.

The offensive line did not give up a single sack, and quarterback Patrick Ramsey completed 17 of 32 passes for 232 yards and two first-half touchdowns - one each to Coles (five receptions for 125 yards) and Rod Gardner (eight for 81).

But on the game-winning touchdown - a play the Redskins employed last year in a defeat of Tennessee - Ramsey's involvement was minimal.

On third-and-five at Seattle's 10-yard line with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter, Ramsey threw a quick screen pass to his left to Gardner - a play the Redskins had already used four times in the game.

Gardner took a few steps to his right before tossing the ball across the field to running back Trung Canidate, who was all alone in the end zone.

"It [couldn't have] come at a better time," said Gardner, a former high school quarterback in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. "They played the screen pass for so long."

That touchdown capped an 11-play, 84-yard drive that included a critical fourth-and-one conversion at Washington's 25-yard line. Fullback Rock Cartwright - who posted career highs in carries (13) and yards (81) - barreled through the Seahawks' defense for 2 yards.

"When you've lost four in a row, you don't have to play too conservative or too careful," Spurrier said.

Seattle coach Mike Holmgren seemed to agree, saying, "That's pretty much a play where if they don't make it, then we're in pretty good shape. So [Spurrier] kind of rolled the dice there and made it. A gutsy call, and I give credit to him."

Actually, the credit could have gone to Spurrier and Jackson. Spurrier, who had been calling the plays this season, turned over the duties to Jackson after the head coach talked last week to Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who shared his experiences about handing over the play-calling responsibilities to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

"I was willing to try something different," said Spurrier, whose Fun 'N' Gun offense had fallen from the league's No. 1 ranking to No. 22 before yesterday. "Our offense has been struggling. ... So I benched myself a little bit."

The difference was significant. Yesterday, the offense recorded 32 rushes and 33 passes. During the team's swoon, the unit had employed just 82 running plays against 148 passing plays.

Jackson, who stood on the sideline rather than sit in the coaches' box above the field, deflected any praise.

"My goal and my job is to do whatever it takes to help this organization win," Jackson said. "I've said that since I've been here. Whatever it is that Coach asks of me, that's what I'm going to do."

Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander rushed for 94 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown, and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck went 19-for-29 for 241 yards and a touchdown.

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