Post Game Coverage by the Press

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Post Game Coverage by the Press

Postby 1niksder » Mon Dec 18, 2006 12:03 am

After 14 Weeks, A Fresh Start

By Thomas Boswell
Monday, December 18, 2006; Page E01

NEW ORLEANS

As the crowd in the Superdome roared its loudest and the New Orleans Saints drove steadily down the field, the Washington Redskins on the sideline screamed "Shut the box!" to their defensive teammates. This wasn't some obscure NFL code. The box in question was simply the cardboard container on the New Orleans sideline in which the Saints had stored their NFC South Division championship hats. After a season in which the Redskins have disappointed their own fans so often, Washington players wanted to spoil someone else's celebration.

And why wouldn't so perverse a Washington season take such a twist? "Tape that box shut," yelled the Redskins, clinging to a 16-10 lead as Drew Brees led the highest-rated offense in the NFC to the 16-yard line with a minute to play. Finally, on fourth-and-seven, Carlos Rogers spun in the end zone and, at the last instant, deflected a pass away from Terrance Copper.

As the ball dropped and no penalty flags appeared, the Superdome fell silent and Redskins players began to jump and dance. Guard Randy Thomas bear hugged defensive back Troy Vincent and tight end Chris Cooley exchanged high fives with defensive end Andre Carter. Offense and defense bonded as the team improved to 5-9. To look at them, you'd have thought the Redskins had won a crucial game.


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Supporting Player Wade Shines in a Starring Role
By Jason La Canfora

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 18, 2006; Page E12

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 17 -- Todd Wade, who had not played in a regular season game in over a year, was filling in for a veteran leader and testing his surgically repaired knee for the first time. By any measure, the results of the experiment were overwhelmingly positive, as Wade excelled at right tackle, filling in for Jon Jansen (torn calf) in Washington's 16-10 victory Sunday over the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome.

After tearing knee ligaments and dislocating his patella, Wade was placed on injured reserve by Houston last November and signed with the Redskins in September. Wade has not required any treatment since joining Washington, and he was a boost for the offensive line, which limited New Orleans to one sack and helped the running game grind out 161 yards. Jansen is expected back for Sunday's game at St. Louis, but Wade, who stands 6 feet 8, showed he can be an effective backup, something Washington badly needs at the tackle spot.

"Todd did a great job in there for us," Coach Joe Gibbs said.

Wade, 30, said he did not worry about re-injuring his knee, or being rusty from going so long between starts. After a long and difficult rehabilitation, he feels he was finally rewarded.

"I've been hungry all year. It's been killing me," Wade said. "I was just glad to get in there. It's been too long."


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This One Doesn't Get Away
Defense Dominates Throughout in Upset Of Playoff-Bound Saints

By Howard Bryant

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 18, 2006; Page E01

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 17 -- On the face of it, none of this would have seemed to matter much. The Washington Redskins had long since given up any notion of playing for the platinum-and-diamond reward of the postseason. And the New Orleans Saints, even as they lost to the Redskins, still wound up with the day's prize.

But Sunday's surprising 16-10 victory over the offense-rich, multitalented Saints was far from hollow for the Redskins. For the first time this season, Washington's maligned defense faced a team at the height of its offensive power and heading for the postseason, and was dominant.

It was both a 60-minute flashback to the successes of the last two seasons for assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams and also an encouraging continuance of a month of inspired defensive play by players angry at the idea of being considered losers.

While the Redskins defense was making a statement, Atlanta's 38-28 loss to Dallas on Saturday combined with Pittsburgh's 37-3 demolition of Carolina on Sunday had given the Saints (9-5) the NFC South division title, even though the Redskins had knocked them on their backs.

"That's fine. I give them their credit. They earned it, but they didn't get in at our expense," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "They can feel good. They can wear their hats and celebrate, but they can't do it the way they wanted to."


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Christmas comes early
Redskins play for pride
BY PAUL WOODY

NEW ORLEANS - For the Washington Redskins, the feeling was familiar. And it was most welcome.

"It felt like the defense of a year ago," said defensive end Phillip Daniels. The Redskins used a staunch defense and just enough offense to pull off a 16-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints yesterday.

The Saints came into yesterday's game, played before a Superdome crowd of 69,052, fresh off a 42-17 thrashing of the Dallas Cowboys. The Saints had offensive weapons galore, led by quarterback Drew Brees and highlighted by rookie running back Reggie Bush and rookie wide receiver Marques Colston.

Yesterday, Brees had his worst game of the season, in large part because of the pressure the Redskins' front seven applied. The defensive backs also seemed to know where Saints receivers were going before they even left the line.

Bush, despite his attempts to dance through piles of tacklers, never made a game-breaking play. Colston caught seven passes for 84 yards but never got into the end zone.

On offense, Redskins running back Ladell Betts gained 119 yards, his fourth straight 100-yard-plus rushing game. Second-year quarterback Jason Campbell failed to complete 50 percent of his passes (13 for 28), but he threw a 31-yard touchdown pass and wasn't intercepted.

The Redskins' defense was staunch enough to withstand the Saints' final drive. Cornerback Carlos Rogers, whose interception earlier in the fourth quarter had helped set up a Redskins field goal, knocked away a Brees pass in the end zone intended for wide receiver Terrance Copper.

"The defensive back [Rogers] had his back to him [Copper], and if I put the pass on the opposite shoulder, Copper should be able to make a play," Brees said. "But the guy did a nice job of finding it and knocking it down."

All was not lost for the Saints (9-5). They still are the NFC South champions and have a playoff berth clinched.

The Redskins (5-9) were eliminated from playoff contention last week. They hope that by playing Campbell now they will increase their chances of making a playoff appearance next season and in many seasons to come.

They also hope to build some sort of momentum at the end of this season for next season.


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On Offense, Redskins Line Up and Bowl Them Over

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 18, 2006; Page E13

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 17 -- The catchy slogans from last December no longer apply -- like "5-0 or we don't go" -- and there will be no return trip to the playoffs for the Washington Redskins, but the team's offense finally resembles the unit that emerged in 2005.

The Redskins (5-9) manhandled an opposing defense for a fourth straight game, with tailback Ladell Betts and the offensive line pounding another NFC opponent with playoff aspirations.

The days of fumbling for an offensive identity appeared to be over a month after Coach Joe Gibbs's mandate to return to "Redskins football," and associate head coach Al Saunders has certainly adhered to that in the game plan. The Redskins ran 31 times for 161 yards in Sunday's 16-10 victory over the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints (9-5) at the Superdome, with Betts topping 100 yards for the fourth straight time and securing an important role for next season, even with Clinton Portis's return from injuries.

The offensive line, strong in pass protection Sunday, was again too much for an opponent, even with Jon Jansen out with a torn calf muscle (reserve Todd Wade filled in nicely) and center Casey Rabach thriving despite having four screws surgically inserted in his broken left hand last week.

For the fourth straight game the Redskins relied on zone-blocking plays -- this time largely directed right up the middle -- and Betts, recently signed to a five-year contract extension, plowed ahead for 119 yards on 22 carries, leading two crucial scoring drives and following the punishing example of his linemen and blockers.

"They're screaming, 'Let us have it, we want to run it,' " Gibbs said of the offensive line. "They've taken the physical approach like we've talked about the last four weeks, and certainly they've responded. I'm just really proud of them."
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