The comeback kid? Unfortunately, it wasn't to be this week for Patrick Ramsey and the Skins. Their heads should not be bowed, though, as they struggled back from a massive dose of self-sabotage to bring the game to a winning ending. What would this game have been like without the drops and the penalties that cost the Skins drive after drive? What could the Skins accomplish without all of the self-imposed barriers to victory? The fans ask themselves the same questions after a heartbreaking and strangely uplifting defeat in the third week of play.
Once again, Patrick Ramsey showed himself to be the leader of the team, valiantly standing in the pocket and rifling ball after ball downfield. He had a rough start to the game with almost every attempted pass dropped by a receiver corps that went from glue hands to stone hands. The receivers, for the most part, were open, and Patrick got them the ball on time and in stride. His poise is growing every week, and his comfort with the system is reaching the point where the Redskins are going from pretender to contender. While the team lost, Ramsey proved himself to be a winner, completing a number of clutch throws to receivers who remembered where they left their catching hands. Ramsey was rushed, battered and intercepted once, but he never gave up. After the first half, Patrick led the team to scoring 18 unanswered points, including one tremendous play in which he bought time on the two point conversion to bring the game to within three. He completed the pass to McCants, one of several catches Darnerian made on the day. McCants was definitely the hero of the receivers. While the other receivers had magnificent days with Coles and Gardner having great catches down the stretch, Patrick Johnson with two clutch conversion catches, and Morton and Betts with terrific yardage off of screens, McCants had several catches in traffic that brought the crowd back into the game. While McCants did have a bonehead play in the beginning, his effort in the rest of the game made him standout. The Hogs.net would be honored to give our passing Hog Noses to Ramsey and McCants for their stellar effort on the day. Imagine the day if half the catches had been made early. The offensive line was amazing in their protection of Ramsey today, were it not for the penalties they committed. The line only permitted three sacks, two on full out blitzes brought with seven men overloaded on one side, and one of those was nullified by a penalty. The third was a coverage sack when Ramsey rolled into it, which is something any line would have a tough time preventing. While they were terrific on pass protection and run blocking, line penalties brought back several plays that should have gone either for long yardage or, once, a touchdown.
The running game looked good early, and really carried the team while the passing attack was attempting to learn how to fly again. Trung had several good carries to the outside, and one massive 3rd down conversion where he plowed into a linebacker and fell forward just enough to get the 1st. People who say Trung isn't tough enough should go back and listen to that hit. Betts was stellar through the middle, though he was misused on a couple of outside carries. While switching backs to run outside might give it away to other teams, the Giants knew Trung was coming and couldn't stop him on the pitches. A suggestion might be made to the coaching staff to try not to use Betts outside the tackles too much as he doesn't have the Canidate like speed to get around linebackers who have better angles on him. The score became too lopsided for the running attack to continue, unfortunately, as it was working. The backs, once again, are providing a one - two punch that the opponents are having a hard time stopping, and contrary to popular opinion, the fans love it. Our Hog Nose would have to go to Betts, for his phenomenal play both in the rushing and receiving, his toughness for coming back in with an obvious injury that he left the game with and the heart he showed.
Here is where it gets a little rough to be nice. Our secondary was burned early and often. With the defensive line getting some, but not enough pressure, Kerry Collins lit up our tandem of cornerbacks for three touchdowns, including two on Champ Bailey. The question has to be asked about the advisability of having Smoot in the game when he repeatedly got torched including a major pass interference penalty towards the end of the game. While Champ did get burned a few times, most of the passing to receivers came against Smoot, who played like he had a concussion. Giving very large cushions off the receivers, he got repeatedly hurt by short passes to his side, some of which ended up going further. It would appear this is Smoot playing it safe, maybe not trusting himself health wise and being careful. It may have been the coverages called by George Edwards. What did not look good was Kerry Collins' ability to hurt us where we haven't been really touched this year, in the secondary. The defensive line, once again, stopped a majority of the runs up the middle, but they and the linebackers surrendered a large amount of yards over the left side of the line. Adjustments were not made early, nor were they made until much later in the second half to stop Tiki Barber from running to his heart's content against Bruce. Unfortunately, what was exploited in Atlanta with the left run, is now open knowledge it would appear. While Bruce has a motor and a heart, he can be turned on a run play, and was turned many times against the Giants. Against the pass, the line did get some pressure with four men, but not enough by far against Kerry Collins' three-step drop routine. Most of the game the three step drop was employed by the Giants, and blitzes to disrupt that were not brought out of the playbook. Lavar and Trotter were all over the field, but unfortunately, they can't be everywhere, and they just weren't enough. With some penalties called against the defense that were highly questionable and some that were just bonehead by the defense, it was a recipe ripe for the plucking. The Giants came to call with a fruit basket in their hands. We give our Hog Nose to Lavar for his stellar play in his blitzes, run support and pass coverage. Even on a completed pass to Shockey, Lavar was right there where he should have been. If not for a stupendous over the shoulder, one handed catch by Shockey, it would have been a great play by Lavar. George, obviously the blitz package isn't one of your favorites, but with the Giants showing other teams how to beat the Skins with the three step drop and sweeps, it better become one.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Kicker John Hall did an outstanding job with two kicks, and had two long ones go bad, one from just hitting the goal post on the left, and one from a tip from the defensive line. In both instances, Spurrier and his offense handed Hall the keys to the kingdom, but the kingdom was way off thataway. Had Hall had a few more yards, or not had to put the kick so low to make the distance, the game may have moved in the other direction. This wasn't Hall's fault - he didn't drop the passes or commit any penalties. He kicked one beauty that just went to the left a shade too far. Four inches to the right it may have deflected in. The other, the line allowed a push that they shouldn't have, and the kicker still has to try even if it does get tipped. We award our Hog Nose to Hall for giving it the best he could and for getting the kick in the pressure situation when we needed him the most. When it came to tying the game in the tension filled air of Fed - Ex field, the protection was good, the hold was good and Hall was perfect. Unfortunately, the Skins didn't get him just a few yards closer on one of the other ones. Barker punted tremendously, and the coverage team did well. If not for penalties, the Giants had no large returns, as the penalties called were on blocks to spring the returns that did go long distance. Morton, however, did a good job early on with returns, both on punts and kicks. He started calling for the fair catch early on the punts again today, even when the one Giant near him was manhandled away before he made the fair catch. The special teams did well, better than the prior two games, giving the Skins a chance. They covered well enough to start the Giants deep in their end of the field on several occasions, including a great job by Terrell to keep one of Barker's punts inside the 5. Our coverage Hog Nose goes to Terrell for proving that last week wasn't a fluke and that he does really hustle like that full time.