The 5th Quarter: Bengals
By: Mark Solway
Category: Washington Redskins News
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for Mark Brunell and the Redskins passing attack - it did. Brunell was a laughable 1 of 8 for 6 yards in the first half, and was so bad, that even Joe Gibbs couldn't watch it anymore. Much to the delight of the Fed Ex crowd, Brunell was pulled in favor of Patrick Ramsey after yet another pathetic performance. Ramsey didn't fare much better, at least not at first. He made the same errors Brunell did throwing balls anywhere but to the receivers hands, but he did start to settle in towards the end of the game. Ramsey did manage to drive the Redskins offense far enough to actually score late in the fourth quarter and to draw within one score of the Bengals. But Washington fell short, and the most anemic offense in the NFL failed to put up 20 points yet again. Ramsey finished 18/37 for 210 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions but it bears noting that 12 of those completions came in the fourth quarter. It may not have been a Pro Bowl performance from Patrick, but sadly, it was probably the best half of football from a Redskin QB this year... and it should be enough to earn him the start next week against the Eagles.
Clinton Portis had a quiet game as Washington was behind right from the beginning and the running game seemed to be the victim. Portis carried the ball just 17 times - far too light a load for the best offensive weapon the Redskins have. He finished with 81 yards rushing and added another 4 receptions for 32 yards. If the Redskins want to win games, CP will have to carry the ball at least 25 times.
A strange thing happened on Sunday - the Redskins defense played a very average half of football. The Bengals were able to move the ball easily in the first half and before solutions were determined, Cincinnati made the Redskins defense look like anything but, the number one defense in the NFL. It seemed that injuries were finally catching up with the Redskins on Sunday. This unit is without two starting linebackers, two starting safeties, and may have lost it's best defensive linemen as well when Cornelius Griffin left the game in the first half. He will have an MRI on Monday to determine the damage, but this defense cannot afford to lose any more bodies.
They somehow managed to pull together and completely shut down the Bengals in the second half and give Washington yet another chance to steal a victory. Inspirational play undoubtedly - but this unit needs to get healthy if they are going to continue to be the only bright spot for this squad.
The spectacular special teams play evident last week against the Lions, just wasn't there this week against the Bengals. James Thrash and Ladell Betts had ordinary days returning the ball with the longest return being just 18 yards. Tom Tupa is still punting the ball well, and he's still getting a lot of practice doing it - 6 punts for a 42.5-yard average. Ola Kimrin missed another field goal though, and the Redskins opted to go for a fourth and long in the first half, rather than let Kimrin have a crack at a 50+-yard field goal. Confidence is dwindling on this team in a few areas...
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