Call it the "Shootout in St. Louis."
The Redskins and St. Louis Rams combined for 68 points, 915 yards of offense, big plays and big momentum shifts on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. In the end, the St. Louis Rams proved too much in a come-from-behind effort.
Tied in overtime, Rams running back Steven Jackson raced up the middle of the Redskins' defense for a 21-yard touchdown run to win the game 37-31.
The loss dropped the Redskins to 5-10 on the season.
"It was extremely hard-fought and you hate to lose a game like that," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "You have to give the Rams credit. They made a play at the end when they had to. Our guys played hard--they came out and made a bunch of plays. I felt like we had some momentum there in the second half, but it got away from us."
The Redskins' defense appeared to have turned a corner in recent weeks, slowing high-powered offenses like the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles. On Sunday in St. Louis, the unit was without Marcus Washington, placed on injured reserve, and Shawn Springs, who suffered a fracture shoulder blade early in the first quarter.
Their absence turned out to be critical, as the defense yielded 579 yards of total offense to the Rams, including 382 yards in the passing game. Jackson combined for 252 total yards, with 150 rushing yards. He added a 64-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the second half to help spearhead the Rams' rally.
Ladell Betts led the Redskins' offense, finishing with 129 rushing yards on 29 carries and two receptions for 35 yards He added two touchdowns to help the Redskins build a 28-14 advantage in the second half.
With 2:11 left in the game, Betts and the Redskins were poised to win the game. He took a handoff and followed blocks by Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas into open field. He appeared headed for a game-winning touchdown, but safety Oshiomogho Atogwe caught him and jarred the ball from his grasp, forcing a critical turnover.
With the St. Louis Rams still clinging to faint playoff hopes, the Redskins entered the game looking to continue positive momentum from the upset win over the Saints last Sunday.
Washington opened the game in impressive fashion. Betts established the ground game early with an 11-yard pickup on the first play from scrimmage. On a key 3rd-and-4 play at midfield, Jason Campbell found Cooley on an out pattern for a 13-yard gain into St. Louis territory.
T.J. Duckett finished off the drive. He gained 11 yards to the Rams' 5-yard line. On the next play he followed blocks by Chris Samuels, Casey Rabach and Mike Sellers into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown run.
Early in the second quarter, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger began to take advantage of Springs' absence. He threw deep against nickel cornerback Ade Jimoh, who was matched up one-on-one with Pro Bowl wide receiver Torry Holt. Jimoh bumped Holt before the pass arrived and was flagged for pass interference, giving the Rams a first down at the Redskins' 17-yard line.
One play later, Bruce ran a slant pattern to the back of the end zone and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Bulger.
Later in the first half, the Rams again used the deep pass to move into scoring position. Bulger threw a bomb to Bruce, running a post pattern, and he caught a 43-yard pickup to the Redskins' 27-yard line. Sean Taylor had snuck up closer to the line of scrimmage, expecting a run, and Bruce sped past him and Kenny Wright to get open.
On the next play, Bulger threw a short pass in the flat to tight end Dominique Byrd, who pulled the ball in ahead of Taylor's outstretched arms. Taylor could not make the tackle along the sideline, and Byrd turned up-field to see open field ahead. He ran into the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown reception.
Midway through the second quarter, the Redskins' special teams came through with a big play to reclaim the momentum. Punter Matt Turk kicked from the Rams' 31-yard line, but Vernon Fox sped through from the left side for a clean block.
The Redskins took over possession at the Rams' 8-yard line. Betts took a handoff from Campbell and ran to the left behind Samuels. He raced past a block by Sellers, and with Santana Moss blocking a defensive back out of the way, he slipped into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown run.
The Redskins put together another impressive drive later in the second quarter. Betts ran a draw play up the middle for 23 yards, then caught a pass in the flat and ran 21 yards down the right sideline.
Campbell found Cooley for a 19-yard completion to give the Redskins a first down at the Rams' 7-yard line.
One play later, Campbell connected with Cooley again for a touchdown. Campbell dropped back to pass and waited patiently for a receiver to get open. Cooley was one-on-one with a defensive back and he grabbed the pass at the goal line for a 9-yard touchdown reception. The score gave Washington a 21-14 halftime lead.
The Redskins opened the second half just as they opened the game--with an impressive offensive drive. Betts picked up chunks of yardage downfield and, on a key 3rd-and-6 play at the Rams' 44, Campbell scrambled out of the pocket and raced down the left sideline for a 7-yard gain.
Campbell found Duckett on a short pass in the flat for 19-yard pickup to the Rams' 9-yard line. Betts did the rest.
On 2nd-and-goal at the 7, Betts raced around left end and beat defenders to the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Redskins a 28-14 lead.
The Rams responded, though. And it was a big play that sparked their comeback.
Bulger, facing a 3rd-and-4 at the Rams' 36-yard line, tossed a short pass over the middle to Jackson. He escaped a tackle by Fox and had open field ahead. Redskins' defenders could not catch up and Jackson followed a pair of blockers into the end zone for a 64-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
Late in the third quarter, the Rams continued to get Jackson more involved in the offense. The Rams handed the ball to Jackson on four consecutive plays and he picked up 37 yards to the Redskins' 10-yard line.
One play later, Bulger threw a short pass in the flat to running back Stephen Davis, the former Redskin. Davis followed blockers into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown reception.
The Redskins' offense, so effective most of the game, began to stall. The Rams' momentum continued, however.
Early in the fourth quarter, Bulger dropped back to pass on a key 3rd-and-9 play at the Rams' 42-yard line. He saw a rushing lane open up to the left and he broke free of the pass rush, racing up-field for 29 yards.
The play led to a 21-yard field goal by kicker Jeff Wilkins, giving the Rams a 31-28 lead.
Despite its struggles, the Redskins' defense kept fighting--and they produced results late in the fourth quarter. On a 3rd-and-8 play at the Rams' 35-yard line, Bulger tossed a short pass to Jackson. He was quickly swarmed by a trio of Redskins, and Cornelius Griffin poked the ball loose. Lemar Marshall pounced on it for a fumble recovery.
Despite great field position at the Rams' 39-yard line, the Redskins could not gain a first down. On 3rd-and-4, Betts took a handoff and was stuffed for a 2-yard loss.
Gibbs opted to send in Shaun Suisham for a 52-yard field goal try. Suisham converted, and the game was tied again at 31-31.
On the Rams' subsequent drive, the Redskins' defense came up with a key stop--despite some apparent confusion.
On 3rd-and-1 at the Rams' 27-yard line, Jackson took a handoff and ran up the middle of the defense. Rocky McIntosh, who had made his first NFL start, raced on to the field late and just as the ball was snapped, he stuffed Jackson at the line of scrimmage for no gain.
After a punt, the Redskins took over at their own 37-yard line with less than three minutes to play. Betts caught a 14-yard pass to move the ball into Rams' territory.
On the next play, Betts burst past blocks Jansen and Thomas, into open field. He had one defender to beat. Atogwe caught up with Betts and managed to wrap his arms around him. Atogwe poked the ball out, and the ball fluttered away. Safety Corey Chavous pounced on the ball for a fumble recovery.
The Rams took over and moved the ball downfield. Bulger completed passes of 18 yards to wide receiver Kevin Curtis, 14 yards to Holt and 24 yards to Jackson. It set up a 41-yard field goal attempt by Wilkins with seconds remaining.
Wilkins' kick sailed wide left--and the Redskins and Rams went into overtime.
Early in the extra quarter, the Redskins' offense found itself pinned deep in its own territory. On 3rd-and-1 at the 15-yard line, Duckett was stuffed for no gain.
The Redskins were forced to punt, and Derrick Frost's line-drive kick sailed 57 yards. Rams' punt returner Shaun McDonald broke a tackle and found a seam to the left. He picked up 33 yards before he was tripped up by Khary Campbell, and the Rams started at the Redskins' 39-yard line.
The defense forced a 3rd-and-3, but the Rams converted--former Redskin Davis picked up eight yards--to get into field goal range.
A field goal would not be needed. One play later, Jackson ended the game when he burst up the middle. He out-raced Taylor to the end zone for the game-winning score.
#### -- PRE-GAME COVERAGE
The Redskins travel to St. Louis for the second year in a row to take on the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, Dec. 24. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
The Redskins are 3-7 against the NFC this season. Sunday's game against the Rams is Washington's final road game of the 2006 season. The Redskins have a 2-5 record in away games this year.
At 6-8, St. Louis is still in the NFC playoff hunt, so Sunday's game has plenty of significance for the Rams.
The Redskins-Rams game will be broadcast on FOX. Locally, WTTG-FOX 5 will televise the game. Kenny Albert calls the play-by-play and Brian Baldinger provides color commentary. Rob Desir is the sideline reporter.
On radio, the game will be broadcast on Triple X ESPN Radio (94.3, 92.7 FM and 730 AM). Larry Michael handles the play-by-play with color commentary from Redskins legends and NFL Hall of Famers quarterback Sonny Jurgensen and linebacker Sam Huff. Bram Weinstein will serve as sideline reporter.
The Redskins are coming off a 16-10 upset win over the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on Dec. 17.
The Rams are coming off a 20-0 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Running back Steven Jackson led the offense with 127 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. Jackson has 1,236 rushing yards this season, sixth-best in the season.
The defense logged four sacks, including two by defensive end Leonard Little and one by former Cowboy La'Roi Glover.
#### -- PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
-- SERIES HISTORY
Sunday's Redskins-Rams game marks the 35th meeting between the two clubs. The Redskins have played the Rams throughout the organization's professional football tenure in Cleveland, Los Angeles and St. Louis.
Washington holds a 20-6-1 advantage in the regular season series, dating back to a 16-7 victory for Washington over the Cleveland Rams on November 21, 1937.
The Redskins have won eight of the last 11 meetings, including a 24-9 victory at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis last season.
Clinton Portis and Rock Cartwright both rushed for more than 100 yards in the game--as a team the Redskins compiled 257 total rushing yards--as the offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage in the game.
The victory kicked off the Redskins late-season 2005 playoff run.
The Redskins and Rams have met three times in the postseason, all when the Rams were in Los Angeles.
Joe Gibbs' Redskins played the Rams twice in the playoffs during the 1980s. On Jan. 1, the Redskins manhandled the Rams 51-7 at RFK Stadium. On Dec. 28, 1986, the Redskins again defeated the Rams at RFK Stadium 19-7.
The other playoff game between the Redskins and Rams was on Dec. 22, 1974, when Los Angeles defeated the Redskins 19-10 at the Rose Bowl.
-- TALE OF THE TAPE: REDSKINS-RAMS
|REDSKINS 2006 STATISTICAL RANKINGS|
#### -- REDSKINS-RAMS NEWS & NOTES
- A Redskins' win over the Rams would:
-- Improve the Redskins' road record to 3-5 this season
-- Improve the Redskins' NFC record to 4-7 this season
-- Give head coach Joe Gibbs an all-time record of 6-1 vs. the Rams
- The Redskins are 17-4 (including postseason) when playing indoors under head coach Joe Gibbs. This season, the Redskins are 2-1 indoors, defeating Houston 31-15 in Week 3 at Reliant Stadium and New Orleans 16-10 in Week 15 at the Superdome. The Redskins lost to Indianapolis 36-22 in Week 7 at the RCA Dome.
- Punter Derrick Frost is a St. Louis native, starring in football and baseball at Clayton High School. He is a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan.
- Safety Adam Archuleta was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the first round (20th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played five seasons for the Rams, with 547 tackles, 11.5 sacks and three interceptions.
Archuleta, who signed with the Redskins last March, started for the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI against the New England Patriots.
- Rams quarterback Marc Bulger has never played a regular-season game against the Redskins. He was the Rams' third QB in his rookie year when St. Louis played at FedExField and he was inactive due to injury last year when the Redskins played at the Edward Jones Dome.
- In the 2004 offseason, the Redskins attempted to sign then-restricted free agent DB Jerametrius Butler off the St. Louis roster. The Rams opted to match the Redskins' offer and Butler remained in St. Louis.
- Rams backup safety Ron Bartell played his college ball at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He visited Redskins Park in a pre-draft Rookie Camp in April 2005. He was eventually selected by the Rams in the second round (50th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft.
-- FAMILIAR FACES ON THE RAMS
- Backup quarterback Gus Frerotte played for the Redskins from 1994-98. He was originally drafted by the Redskins in the seventh round of the 1994 NFL Draft. He played in 52 games for Washington, starting 51, and threw 48 touchdowns and 44 interceptions.
- Backup running back Stephen Davis played for the Redskins from 1996-2002 and he is third on the team's all-time rushing list with 5,790 yards on 1,383 carries. One of the most popular players in Redskins history, Davis earned Pro Bowl nods from 1999-2000.
- Punter Matt Turk played for the Redskins from 1995-99 and averaged 43.6 yards per kick in five seasons. He earned Pro Bowl nods from 1997-99.
- Wide receivers coach Henry Ellard played for the Redskins from 1994-97 and he led the Redskins in receptions from 1994-96.
- Pro scout Cary Conklin played for the Redskins from 1990-94. He was drafted by the Redskins in the fourth round (86th overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft. Conklin also spent the 2003 season as a Redskins scout.
- Pro scout Dick Daniels served as director of player personnel for the Redskins from 1978-84 and 1985-89.