'Skins run up score in pounding Falcons

Betts rushes for 2 TDs in preseason finale, 27-0

Pro Football

September 04, 2004|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - And just like that, the Washington Redskins are ready for the regular season.

Or so it seemed last night as the Redskins, who had struggled mightily last week in a loss to the St. Louis Rams, came out blazing against the Atlanta Falcons in the final preseason game for both teams.

The Redskins scored on their first possession as Ladell Betts ran for a 5-yard touchdown to cap a nine-play, 78-yard drive. Then, on the next play from scrimmage, Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick threw an interception that led to a 23-yard field goal by John Hall.

It was 10-0, and the quarter was not yet half over. If only it could be so simple in the regular season.

Washington's 27-0 victory was the easy part of the weekend. The hard part comes when coaches huddle to determine which players will survive to be included on the 53-man roster. Final cuts must be made tomorrow, and coach Joe Gibbs said, "Those will be some tough decisions."

Gibbs said of the game, "I wish it counted, but it doesn't. Now we start for real."

Among those making a case to stay was Betts, whose hamstring injury had kept him sidelined for much of the preseason. He scored two touchdowns last night. Betts has been competing with Sultan McCullough - who also played well last night - and Rock Cartwright and John Simon for a backup running back spot.

Cartwright and Simon both missed the game with injuries. McCullough rushed 23 times for 75 yards.

While saying no final roster decisions were made, Gibbs singled out Betts for praise. "I was really happy to get Ladell back," he said. "Having him healthy, I think, certainly helps us back there."

With the score 10-0, the Redskins (3-2) continued to roll.

With starting quarterback Mark Brunell already finished for the night, Washington scored on its third possession as Patrick Ramsey led a six-play drive that ended with Betts' second scoring run, this time from 3 yards away.

On Atlanta's next possession, Vick - who finished without a completion in three attempts - was sacked by LaVar Arrington, who was returning after missing the previous two games with a sprained knee. The resulting fumble was recovered by Antonio Pierce, who returned it 23 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-0 with 3:22 left in the first quarter.

The Redskins, who gave up 28 points and 289 passing yards to the Rams, fared much better defensively last night. They allowed just 133 passing yards in posting their second shutout of the preseason. The Falcons fell to 2-2.

"We wanted to come out and establish a place, and we want to stay in this place for the rest of the season," cornerback Fred Smoot said. "Tonight's win is a good feeling, but we're going to keep it in the back of our heads that this is still a preseason game."

Arrington suffered a stinger in the game, but X-rays were negative. Rookie safety Sean Taylor suffered a thigh bruise that was not considered serious, and cornerback Rashad Bauman left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.

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