During four-game slide, 'Skins stuck in replay mode

Offense, special teams, turnovers foil Gibbs' team

Ravens Gameday

Ravens 17, Redskins 10

October 11, 2004|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- After his Washington Redskins tumbled -- or perhaps it should be "fumbled" -- to their fourth straight defeat last night, coach Joe Gibbs told his players that he had been there before.

He was referring to 1981, when his Washington Redskins began the season 0-5.

But that team ultimately found a way to win, scoring at least 30 points six times and finishing 8-8. This edition of the Redskins finds ways to lose -- usually in the same way each week.

In its 17-10 loss to the Ravens, Washington repeated a pattern of accomplishing little offensively, surrendering big chunks of yardage on special teams and turning the ball over at critical times.

Last night was the third game this season in which an opponent returned a Redskins fumble for a touchdown.

"I don't think I've seen a stretch like that where on offense when we make a mistake it seems to bounce in somebody else's hands," Gibbs said. "It's not just a fumble, it's a touchdown."

The latest defensive score for a Washington opponent came when Ed Reed sacked Mark Brunell on a blitz and scooped up the quarterback's fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown with the Ravens trailing 10-0 in the third quarter.

The Redskins believed they had a shot for a long completion to Laveranues Coles on the play. "I think we had an opportunity with Laveranues on the sideline," Brunell said.

Said Gibbs: "That was going to be a big play. We took a shot on a full blitz and we were going deep with it and we didn't get the ball off. That's typical of what has happened to us."

The Redskins are averaging 14 points a game. Last night, they netted 107 yards, which was less than half their previous worst that came last week in a loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Gibbs conceded the team is having difficulty throwing the ball downfield.

"That is something we probably need to study. What we basically do in our passing offense is take what is there. They played a lot of two-deep [zone] today."

A key part of Washington's game plan was to pressure Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller. The Redskins have primarily played against more experienced quarterbacks this season -- Vinny Testaverde, Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson -- and they thought they could rattle Boller, who is in his second year.

"The plan was to keep that ball in Kyle Boller's hand and make him beat us," said cornerback Fred Smoot. "We did a pretty good job of that, but for some reason we still couldn't get it done."

One reason was special teams. Last week, Cleveland's Dennis Northcutt hurt the Redskins with 74 yards in punt returns, including a 44-yarder.

Last night, the Redskins were burned by a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown by B.J. Sams in the third quarter.

NOTES: Redskins safety Matt Bowen left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury suffered on punt coverage and did not return. The Redskins were already thin at safety because Andre Lott was out with a hamstring injury. Backups Ryan Clark and Todd Franz alternately replaced Bowen in the lineup. The Redskins were already missing linebackers LaVar Arrington and Mike Barrow and defensive end Phillip Daniels because of injuries.

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