Week 9: The Panthers
The Skins were in it until right before the end. They had a chance, as they had all game long. Almost from the beginning, as it has happened in many games, the Panthers tried to gift the Redskins with their 5th win. The Redskins, however, turned the gift down, allowing the Panthers to penetrate what had, up until then, proven to be a stingier defense for the game winning score. The offense sputtered, caught afire, then sputtered again at the end of the game. This was another roller coaster ride provided by the Burgundy and Gold theme park, down to the wire once again.
This was a game of two halves. Ramsey looking horrible and ending up on his backside again as the coaches went deep against a weak secondary, and completing 5 of 12 with only one completion to his receivers in the first half. The second half was a different tale, with Ramsey looking sharp, three step dropping, passing with laser precision and the offense looking for all intents and purposes like they wanted to win. Laverneus Coles was contained for the most part, but the other receivers picked up the slack. Patrick Johnson and Darnerian McCants showed that they are willing and able to catch the ball if the coaches are willing to put them in. Both scored touchdowns on well scripted and well executed plays that weren’t seen in the first half. The Hog Noses go to McCants and Johnson for their ability to make tightrope catches in the endzone under difficult circumstances.
Trung Canidate hit a wall called the Carolina defensive line all day. Even the pitches were stopped for no gain or little gain as the Panthers zeroed in on him every time he came out on to the field. Rock Cartwright fared somewhat better, although he has problems penetrating for more than 3 or 4 yards at his best. His fumble in the end zone seemed to deflate the team right off the bat, losing a golden opportunity to take the lead right off. Neither back was used very well out of the backfield, with the rushing game used only sporadically, mostly in play action. Rock did have a very good reception for 23 yards but other than that, neither back contributed much.
Starting right from the beginning, it seemed that the defense was going to stop the run. After Stephen Davis had a good run in the beginning followed by a fumble, the defense did not allow more than 3 or 4 yards on most runs by Davis. They did hold him from the end zone until the end of the game, and that due to a questionable call by the officials. Once again, however, the zone defense proved vulnerable to the crossing, slant and hitch routes, and limited pressure was put on Jake Delhomme who passed for well over 300 yards with no sacks against him. The Hog Noses go to Bowen for a forced fumble, an interception and a couple of very good hits, Ohalete for an interception, forced and recovered fumble and Fred Smoot for his heads up interception and a couple of very nice plays against the run. The defense constantly seemed poised to stop the offense several times only to allow a pass from a mediocre quarterback to advance the first down marker. As we have seen in the past, the bend but don’t break defense just wears the defense down and allows over 400 yards on the way to the opponents winning. One must question why the opponents are capable of coming back from a multi turnover deficit to win, and that question rests not only on the offense’s sputtering but the defense’s capabilities to cover a back like Davis on a short pass on 4th down that wasn’t just converted, but completed for 25 yards.
John Hall missed a 46 yard field goal after Ramsey was sacked for a loss of 11 in the first quarter, but was otherwise perfect, including a couple of booming kickoffs. Barker once again proved to be serviceable with a 43.3 yard average, and the punt cover teams did very well in their duties, downing one ball on the 13 yard line. Morton did well, but seemed to be more straight ahead today, calling into question if his cutting ability is a little off due to his injury. All in all, Mike Stock had them back in good form today.
This article was released on 2003-11-17.
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