Redskins, Ramsey get offense going, drive by Steelers

Running game strong in support of quarterback as Washington wins, 17-10

August 27, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - Stuck in neutral for much of the preseason, the Washington Redskins' offense may finally be moving forward.

Facing last season's top-ranked defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Redskins racked up 367 yards of total offense and earned a 17-10 victory before 73,987 at FedEx Field last night.

While Washington (1-2) avoided its first 0-3 start in the preseason since 1994, coach Joe Gibbs beamed with pride at his starting offense's total of 234 yards and 13 first downs en route to scoring 10 points against the Steelers' first-team defense in the opening half.

"I felt like it was a solid effort against a team I have a lot of respect for," Gibbs said. "I felt good about our guys, and hopefully, it's something we can build on."

The 10 first-half points were an improvement on Washington's seven in a nine-point loss to the Steelers last season.

Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey got off to a rough start, throwing an interception in the first quarter that was returned for a touchdown. But Washington went to a power running game anchored by tailback Ladell Betts, and Ramsey finished the first half with 12-for-19 passing for 141 yards, an 81.2 passer rating and a 4-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooley with 31 seconds left.

"It was big for us to punch the ball in," Ramsey said of the touchdown that pulled the Redskins into a 10-10 tie at halftime. "It would've been terribly disappointing not to score."

Ramsey's fourth interception of the preseason and the team's eighth turnover occurred as he was backpedaling away from linebacker Clark Haggans.

To avoid the sack, Ramsey lofted the ball toward wide receiver James Thrash in the right flat, but the pass sailed over his head and into the hands of strong safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu ran 34 yards untouched into the end zone to give Pittsburgh (2-1) a 7-0 lead with 3:48 left in the first quarter.

After the teams traded field goals and unsuccessful possessions, the Redskins took advantage of a Chris Gardocki punt that went only 44 yards to Washington's 45.

Ramsey found wide receiver David Patten (four catches for 37 yards) on a crossing pattern for 17 yards and tossed a screen pass to Betts that went 9 yards. Mixing Betts (nine carries for 41 yards) with the pass, the Redskins faced fourth-and-1 on Pittsburgh's 6.

Ramsey leaped over the offensive and defensive lines for a 2-yard gain and a first down. On the ensuing play, Ramsey rolled out to his right and connected with Cooley for the score.

Backup quarterback Mark Brunell was efficient during his appearance, playing the entire third quarter and completing six of seven for 60 yards and a 102.4 passer rating. Running back Rock Cartwright's 10-yard touchdown run on the opening series of the quarter proved to be the game-winner for Washington.

The Redskins' first-team defense, which ranked third in yards allowed last season, was stout once again. Aside from running back Willie Parker's 51-yard gain, the Steelers' first-team offense gained just 79 yards on 23 plays (3.4-yard average) in the first half and did not score a touchdown.

Still, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin said there was room for improvement.

Linebacker LaVar Arrington and defensive tackle Brandon Noble reported no significant setbacks in their first action since last season due to knee problems.

The only concern was the status of strong safety Matt Bowen and cornerback Ade Jimoh. Bowen left the game in the first quarter with bruised ribs and was taken to a local hospital for examination, but Gibbs said the injury was not believed to be serious. Jimoh sat out with a stinger.

Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis (four carries for 8 yards) suffered a right calf injury in the first quarter and also did not return. Bettis will have a magnetic resonance imaging exam today.

Pittsburgh 7 3 0 0 - 10

Washington 3 7 7 0 - 17

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