USAToday: Inside Slant
[quote:eaebf1d4f5]In a very disappointing year for Washington's defense, it was a very unhappy weekend for veteran Redskins defenders.
The downbeat time began Friday when strong-side linebacker Marcus Washington, a Pro Bowl pick in 2004, was declared out of Sunday's game in St. Louis with a sprained left knee.
The next day, the Redskins put their second-leading tackler on season-ending injured reserve, meaning he would miss as many games this month as he had in his previous six seasons combined (Indianapolis' regular-season finale and playoff finale in 2002).
"It's really disappointing," Washington said Friday. "I don't like to miss practice, and this is a game. They want me to be smart about this, but it's hard. If we still had a chance to make the playoffs, they'd have to fight to keep me out of there. I won't have to have surgery, but the knee still needs to calm down."
Then in the first quarter in St. Louis, top cornerback Shawn Springs' season ended with a fractured right shoulder.
"I thought I had made a good play (covering Rams Pro Bowl receiver Torry Holt), but I landed on my shoulder," Springs said. "I thought it was just a stinger at first, but after a little while, I couldn't even lift my arm, so I had to come out."
Springs, who led the Redskins in interceptions and sacks in his Washington debut in 2004, had missed two months following Aug. 15 pelvic surgery. And after playing a terrific game against Carolina on Nov. 26, Springs was sidelined against Atlanta on Dec. 3 with a hamstring injury.
"It's been a nightmare of a season," said Springs, 31. "The only good thing is that I've had a shoulder (injury) before. I'll be fine in five or six weeks."
And then in the second half, defensive end Phillip Daniels, who led the Redskins with eight sacks last year, was carted to the locker room after being hit in the throat.
"I couldn't get air in," Daniels said. "I ran to the sideline and had to take a knee, hoping it would get better. It was kind of scary."
Unlike Washington and Springs, Daniels should be in the lineup for Saturday's season finale for the Redskins (5-10) against the still-alive Giants (7-8).
—Rookie LB Rocky McIntosh had eight tackles in his starting debut against the Rams.
"I saw some suddenness until towards the end when he made a couple of mistakes," assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said of the second-round draft choice who had played sparingly on defense prior to Sunday.
Williams chose McIntosh, who had been working only on the weak side, over veteran Jeff Posey to replace SLB Marcus Washington (knee).
—RB Ladell Betts went over 1,000 yards Sunday while tying a Redskins record with his fifth consecutive 100-yard game, but Betts was more focused on the fumble that ended his last carry of regulation after 25 yards when Oshiomogho Atogwe knocked the ball out at the St. Louis 24 with just 2:02 left and the score tied at 31.
"I was trying to stiff-arm the guy, but he had a pretty good grip on me, so I was getting ready to fall down because we would have had a first down inside the 20, but he held onto me so I couldn't cover the ball up and he reached around and made a good play," Betts said. "It's really tough. Right now, 1,000 yards doesn't mean a whole lot."
—After going 1-for-9 in the red zone the previous three weeks, the Redskins were 4-for-4 against the Rams with RB Ladell Betts scoring twice, backup RB T.J. Duckett once and TE Chris Cooley hauling in a scoring pass from QB Jason Campbell.
"We focused on that a lot this week," Campbell said. "We wanted to score (six) and not three points. Guys did a good job of buying into it, and they were coming off the ball. I take my hat off to the offensive line."
[b:eaebf1d4f5]STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL[/b:eaebf1d4f5]
—TE Chris Cooley recaptured the team lead in catches (52) and touchdown catches (six) with seven catches for 77 yards and a score against the Rams. The rest of the team had just six catches for 83 yards and no touchdowns.
—K Shaun Suisham tied the game in the fourth quarter with a career-best 52-yard field goal. Since missing a 50-yarder in his Washington debut on Dec. 3, Suisham has made all eight of his attempts.
—DE Andre Carter recorded his team-high fifth sack against the Rams. Three of Carter's sacks have come in the past four games.
—S Vernon Fox blocked a punt by ex-Redskin Matt Turk. The block was the third for Washington this season, following a blocked field-goal attempt by Troy Vincent against Dallas on Nov. 5 and a blocked punt by Rock Cartwright against Atlanta on Dec. 3.
—KR Rock Cartwright totaled 111 yards against the Rams, giving him 1,406 for the season, just 72 behind Brian Mitchell's 12-year-old team record.
[b:eaebf1d4f5]REPORT CARD VS. RAMS[/b:eaebf1d4f5]
[b:eaebf1d4f5]PASSING OFFENSE:[/b:eaebf1d4f5] C-minus — QB Jason Campbell had two hot streaks that added up to 9-for-9 for 108 yards but was an ugly 4-for-17 for 52 yards the rest of the game. TE Chris Cooley was a big factor with seven catches for 77 yards. WR Santana Moss had just three catches for 29 yards, while WRs Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd went without a catch. RB Ladell Betts had two catches for 35 yards. The pass blocking was excellent.
[b:eaebf1d4f5]RUSHING OFFENSE:[/b:eaebf1d4f5] B-plus — RB Ladell Betts had a fifth consecutive 100-yard game, tying the Redskins record of teammate Clinton Portis (2005) and Rob Goode (1951), but he also lost a critical fumble in the fourth quarter. The line and FB Mike Sellers did a terrific job. Backup RB T.J. Duckett ran well early but was stopped on the crucial third down in overtime. Randle El ran twice for 21 yards. Campbell scrambled for a first down.
[b:eaebf1d4f5]PASS DEFENSE:[/b:eaebf1d4f5] F — After playing much better during the previous month, the secondary had a dreadful game. After the Redskins lost top CB Shawn Springs to a fractured shoulder in the first quarter, CBs Carlos Rogers and Kenny Wright, FS Sean Taylor and SS Vernon Fox all struggled. WLB Warrick Holdman had a horrible day playing in space. DE Andre Carter had a sack, but no one else even had a pressure of QB Marc Bulger.
[b:eaebf1d4f5]RUSH DEFENSE:[/b:eaebf1d4f5] F — Rams RB Steven Jackson brutalized the Redskins run defense — which badly missed top LB Marcus Washington — for 150 yards and the game-winning TD on 33 carries. Backup RB Stephen Davis ran 10 yards for a TD, and Bulger ripped off a career-best 29-yard run. Carter led the defense with eight tackles as he continued his second-half-of-the-season resurgence.
[b:eaebf1d4f5]SPECIAL TEAMS:[/b:eaebf1d4f5] B — Fox blocked a punt to set up a TD in the second quarter and also keyed excellent work by the coverage units until they surrendered a 33-yard punt return in OT that set up the game-winning TD. Rock Cartwright moved within 2 yards of second place on the team's single-season kick return list. P Derrick Frost had another good day, averaging 44 yards gross and 39.4 net. K Shaun Suisham tied the score with a late 52-yard field goal.
[b:eaebf1d4f5]COACHING:[/b:eaebf1d4f5] C-minus — Joe Gibbs never had a 10-loss season during his first 12-year tenure, but now the Hall of Fame coach has suffered two such years in the past three. Bad teams like this one find a way to lose, and that's what the Redskins did Sunday, blowing a 28-14 third-quarter lead and getting outscored 23-3 the rest of the way. Defensive boss Gregg Williams has some serious questions to face about his unit this offseason.[/quote:eaebf1d4f5]