Redskins start with win over Bears, end with QB controversy

Ramsey sprains his neck in second quarter

Brunell relieves, completes 8 of 14

Nfl Gameday

Redskins 9, Bears 7

September 12, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - The Washington Redskins opened the season and a quarterback debate yesterday.

The Redskins beat the Chicago Bears, 9-7, in a sluggish game before 90,138 at FedEx Field, but the big question afterward was which quarterback will start at Dallas against the Cowboys next Monday night - Patrick Ramsey or Mark Brunell.

Ramsey left the scoreless game four minutes into the second quarter when Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs sacked him around his neck. When he left, Ramsey - who was diagnosed with a neck sprain - was 6-for-11 for 105 yards, one interception, two sacks and one lost fumble.

Brunell stepped in, completed eight of 14 passes for 70 yards, did not throw an interception and was sacked just once. Coach Joe Gibbs praised him for looking "pretty smooth."

"I'll just have to see how it all shakes out," Gibbs said, declining to name a starter after the game. "We'll see after two days off, and we'll see how everybody heals up and then I'll sit and look at it and decide what we're going to do."

Washington drove inside the Bears' 40-yard line five times, but produced just three John Hall field goals, a punt and a lost fumble. It was the first time the team had not scored a touchdown in a season opener since losing to the San Diego Chargers, 30-3, in 2001.

The game's only touchdown came from Bears running back Thomas Jones, who plowed 1 yard early in the third quarter.

The Redskins' saving grace was the play of its defense. Chicago gained just 166 yards of total offense, and Washington cemented the final score when defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin stripped rookie quarterback Kyle Orton of the football and recovered the fumble at the Bears' 15 with 1:32 left in the game.

"When you've got a great defense like we do, you don't have to be flashy," Brunell said. "You don't always have to score touchdowns in the red zone. You would like to. You just have to play smart. You have to be smart with the football and don't turn it over, and if you do that, you've got a great advantage."

The Redskins also will have to decide what to do about Hall, who re-injured the right quad muscle that contributed to his missing eight games last season. Hall - who, according to Gibbs, suffered the injury kicking off after giving Washington the 9-7 lead with 2:54 left in the third quarter - will not play next Monday night.

Offensive tackle Jon Jansen, who broke his left thumb in practice, broke his right thumb yesterday but is not expected to miss the Dallas game.

Yesterday's contest pitted the two worst touchdown-producing teams from last year. The Redskins, who recorded 26 touchdowns last season, gained 323 yards of total offense, including 121 yards on 21 carries from running back Clinton Portis.

But Brunell and Ramsey combined for just 175 passing yards. Under Ramsey, the offense gained 119 yards on three possessions and marched to Chicago's 16 before Briggs clotheslined Ramsey on a blitz and caused the fumble.

"I feel OK and as good as you can feel after being dazed a bit," Ramsey said. "I wanted to play, but it's Coach's call."

The Bears, who posted 24 touchdowns last season, fared even worse under Orton. The fourth-round draft pick completed 15 of 28 passes for 141 yards, but ended one promising drive to Washington's 22 with a pass intercepted by linebacker Lemar Marshall and grounded another with the sack and fumble by Griffin.

"I thought he gave us a chance to pull it out," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. "He'll get better next week and go from there."

NOTES: Portis, who was spelled frequently by Ladell Betts, said he and Betts decide when to alternate carries. Betts carried 12 times for 41 yards against the Bears. "Basically, the coaches don't know when you're tired or not," Portis said. "Coach says to stay 100 percent and if you're not, put [Betts] in to get fresh and recover." ... Kick returner Antonio Brown was replaced by Betts in the second half after Brown opened the third quarter by fumbling a kickoff, which led to Chicago's touchdown. Said Gibbs of the possibility of Betts remaining as the main kickoff returner: "That will be up to Danny [Smith, special teams coach]. I think he'll kind of analyze everything, and we'll support him on that." ... Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss caught four passes for 96 yards, including a 52-yarder from Ramsey in the second quarter.

Chicago 0 0 7 0 - 7

Washington 0 6 3 0 - 9

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