The 5th Quarter: Giants
By: Mark Solway
Category: Washington Redskins News
A possible NFC East battle turned into more of an ugly bowl and Redskin fans were granted their first glimpse of 'growing pains' in a deserved 20-14 loss to the New York Giants. While the Giants didn't play overly well, they made fewer mistakes, and despite giving Washington every chance to snatch away the victory, they held on for the win.
Well the Clinton Portis / Champ Bailey experts will be out with full enthusiasm this week after a very tough outing for Clinton this week. Normally sure-handed, Portis uncharacteristically put the ball on the carpet twice. Before Sunday, Clinton had gone 280 touches without a fumble. He ended up with just 69 yards on 20 carries as the Redskins spent most of the game playing 'catch-up' and being forced to rush sparingly and in predictable situations. Quite simply, Clinton Portis had a bad game.
Ladell Betts had a very average 11 yards on 3 carries in limited action.
But there were positives... CP threw two of the finest blocks you will see from a runningback and he did finish with 98 all-purpose yards. He had two catches for 29 yards including a 16-yard touchdown reception.
Redskin fans were treated to a spectacular 51-yard, acrobatic, diving reception by Rod Gardner. Unfortunately, Gardner continues to make mental errors both with penalties, and with dropping very catchable balls. He finished with just 66 yards on 3 receptions despite the 51-yarder and perhaps left the door open to give James Thrash, Darnerian McCants or Taylor Jacobs longer looks at practice this week. Laveranues Coles had a slightly better day with 9 catches for 100 yards and several great runs after a catch. Unfortunately, he also had a bad drop at a very inopportune time.
Mark Brunell was injured in the third quarter when he pulled up limping on a pass. To that point, he had gone 10 of 18 for 92 yards with both a touchdown and an interception in a very average performance. But average was better than Patrick Ramsey could manage. Despite looking like he was moving the chains in relief of Brunell, Ramsey drives all began ending in the same disturbing fashion... a Giant interception. Three bad interceptions, three bad throws, three bad decisions. Patrick simply has to learn to be patient and to not try and force something on every play.
One bright spot for the Redskins' receiving corps was rookie Chris Cooley. Though he managed only 3 catches, he also had some great blocks and continues to develop into a good h-back.
Though not as strong as in the Tampa game, the Redskins defense played well again on Sunday. Overall, the defense shut down another offense fairly well with the Giants managing just one touchdown on offense despite being handed good field position several times. But the front four struggled to pressure Warner and the Giants won a lot of early battles in the trenches. There were fewer blitzes, as the Redskins defense was unable to force as many 3rd and long situations.
Nevertheless, the Redskins offense were faced with an opportunity to win the game going away, an opportunity they squandered, but an opportunity made possible only by another strong performance by the defense.
Well if there was one area of improvement this week, it was on special teams. It started auspiciously, with the Redskins giving up a 34-yard kickoff return to W. Ponder after the Redskins' opening drive touchdown. But they settled down on protection, and Chad Morton had a good day. Morton had 112 yards on 5 kickoff returns including a 49-yarder, and also had a 43-yard return negated by a holding call to rookie Jim Molinaro.
Tom Tupa kicked the ball well again, including a beautiful 54-yard bomb that got the Redskins out of a potentially bad field position situation.
The biggest issue for Redskins' special teams this week will be what to do about kicker John Hall. Hall re-aggravated a hamstring injury trying to make a tackle, and missed a very makeable 41-yard field goal to close the first half that would have put the Redskins back in the game going into the break. With Ola Kimrin on the practice squad, the Redskins do have options.
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