The Redskins' lost to the Carolina Panthers 23-20 as kicker John Kasay hit a 52-yard field goal to win in overtime in Saturday night's preseason opener at FedExField. The loss dropped the Redskins' preseason record to 1-1.
After the game, Joe Gibbs said he was eager to get a look at the game film to evaluate the offensive unit. The Redskins first-team offense could not sustain any drives in the first half and the running game produced just 19 yards. Both Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell struggled, going a combined 6-of-17 for 100 yards.
"Offensively, there were too many mistakes," Gibbs said. "I think we made mistakes all the way across the board.
"We are not running the football. So we have a lot to work on. Hopefully the game will be a learning experience for us."
After the Redskins' second-team offense scored two second-half touchdowns to take a 20-17 lead, third-string QB Tim Hasselbeck threw two interceptions to give the Panthers scoring opportunities. The first interception led to 37-yard field goal by Kasay, tying the game at 20-20.
On the Redskins' second drive of overtime, Hasselbeck's downfield toss to Chris Cooley was intercepted at midfield by the Panthers' William Hampton. He returned the ball to the Redskins' 42-yard line.
The Redskins' defense clamped down on Carolina on the next three plays, setting up a fourth and two at the 34-yard line. Panthers head coach John Fox sent Kasay in to end the game, and the kicker obliged by kicking it straight through the uprights.
The Redskins scored two touchdowns in the second half to gain the lead. Midway through the third quarter, Brunell connected with Mark Brunell on a 61-yard touchdown pass to Darnerien McCants. The lanky receiver, known for catching touchdowns in the red zone, had a step on the nearest defender on a deep post route.
McCants caught the ball at the 10-yard line and raced into the end zone for the score.
"I was just running straight downfield," McCants said. "The defender let me get by him and Mark put the ball right on the money."
In the fourth quarter, the Redskins tied the game thanks to some nifty running by backup tailbacks Rock Cartwright and McCullough. First it was Cartwright who broke free for a 34-yard scamper to the Panthers' 14-yard line. On the next play, Sultan McCullough burst through the line of scrimmage for a 14-yard touchdown run.
"When I saw daylight, all I was thinking was end zone," McCullough said.
But the Panthers scored twice in the third quarter, with backup quarterback Chris Weinke connecting with rookie wide receiver Keary Colbert on 42- and 68-yard touchdowns.
Colbert's first touchdown seemed to take advantage of apparent confusion in the Redskins' secondary. He was wide open down the left sideline and leaped into the end zone past cornerback Ralph Brown for the score.
On the second touchdown, Colbert was able to get a step on safety Ifeanyi Ohalete and found himself wide open down the right sideline. He raced into the end zone for the score.
The second-half fireworks were preceded by solid defensive play from both teams. The halftime score was 3-3.
The Redskins got on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter thanks to a Todd Franz interception of a Rodney Peete pass at Carolina's 40-yard line. Brunell, who had replaced Ramsey in the second quarter, completed a 24-yard pass to Cooley to put the Redskins inside the Panthers' 20-yard line.
The drive stalled as Brunell's pass to Brian Kozlowski in the end zone slipped away. The Redskins had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by John Hall.
Ramsey's final drive of the game ended in frustrating fashion. On the last play of the first quarter, Ramsey had completed a 34-yard pass to Laveranues Coles, giving the Redskins the ball at Carolina's 31-yard line. But two plays later, Ramsey threw a high-arching pass to Coles near the goal-line that was intercepted by cornerback Dante Wesley.
The Panthers' second-quarter drives started at the 4-, 10- and 19-yard lines and they were unable to get anything going offensively. Fred Smoot made tackles on two consecutive plays to keep the Panthers pinned down deep in their territory. He led the defense with four tackles at halftime.
Carolina was able to get on the scoreboard first thanks to a somewhat bizarre incident involving a referee. A punt by Kevin Stemke inadvertently hit the back judge and stopped at the 2-yard line, burying the Redskins deep in their own territory.
The Redskins' offense was unable to move the ball and Kevin Stemke punted from his own end zone. Steve Smith's 19-yard return gave the Panthers the ball at the Redskins' 30-yard line. Eight plays later, John Kasay gave Carolina the early lead with a 19-yard field goal.
A few hours later, Kasay's foot would end the game.
Gibbs said the team is holding back on some of its schemes since it's so early in the preseason. But he was still disappointed in the offense's performance Saturday night.
"That doesn't keep you from being a good, solid football team," he said. "When you make mistakes and turn the ball over, that's a part of football that you just can't do."
Even so, Gibbs said he was proud that the team had fought through adversity and came back to hold a lead against the defending NFC Champions.
"I like our players' spirit," Gibbs said. "They've fought hard so far and I think that's a good sign."