The Redskins entered Sunday riding a four-game winning streak. Across the field, the winless St. Louis Rams arrived just hoping to establish some positive momentum.
Surprisingly, the Redskins found it tough going against the Rams.
They rallied to take a 17-16 lead late in the fourth quarter at FedExField, but the Rams used a big play--a 43-yard pass from quarterback Marc Bulger to rookie wide receiver Donnie Avery--to get in position for a game-winning field goal.
It was no chip shot after Rams offensive lineman Richie Incognito was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the ball back to the Redskins' 32-yard line.
But kicker Josh Brown connected on the 49-yard field goal with 2 seconds left to give the Rams a 19-17 victory.
As the Rams celebrated their first win of the season at midfield, the Redskins walked slowly back to the locker room. Their record stands at 4-2 on the season.
It was a stunning loss for Washington, particularly after they had defeated NFC East rivals Dallas and Philadelphia on the road the last two weeks.
The offense committed three first-half fumbles--their first turnovers of the season--sabotaging any momentum they could muster.
Jason Campbell finished the game with 18-of-26 pass completions for 208 yards and Clinton Portis gained 129 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
Rookie Chris Horton led the defense with nine tackles, including three for a loss. Shawn Springs and Anthony Montgomery recorded sacks of Bulger.
In the end, mistakes did the Redskins in.
"Once we expose the issues, and they were very obvious to us, players will see that a combination of things explain why we lost this football game," Jim Zorn said. "For our offense, we can afford a couple errors, but we can't afford everything to error."
Early in the first quarter, it was the Redskins who capitalized on a Rams turnover.
With the Rams pinned deep in their own territory, running back Steven Jackson took a handoff up the middle. Marcus Washington stripped him of the ball and LaRon Landry recovered the fumble at the Rams' 3-yard line.
On the next play, Portis ran right behind Jon Jansen and bulldozed into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown, giving the Redskins an early 7-0 lead.
After the Rams responded with a 51-yard field goal by Brown, the Redskins' remarkable turnover streak ended.
The Redskins were driving into Rams territory when Chris Cooley caught a pass across the middle. He fought for extra yardage, but safety Oshiomogho Atogwe poked the ball loose. Linebacker Chris Draft pounced on the fumble for the recovery.
Midway through the second quarter, the offense committed another gaffe when Campbell could not handle a Casey Rabach snap. The ball bounced off Campbell's hands and defensive end Chris Long was there to snatch up the fumble.
Both times, the Redskins' defense stepped up and did not allow the Rams to get any offensive momentum. Landry broke up a third-down pass to tight end Joe Klopfenstein to end one drive.
With the first half winding down, Campbell once again guided the Redskins downfield. Cooley made a diving, 28-yard grab and held on despite a hard hit by cornerback Jonathan Wade.
Facing a 1st-and-10 at the Rams' 16-yard line with 26 seconds left, Campbell dropped back to pass again. The pocket started to collapse, and he got off a throw.
The ball was batted in the air, and Pete Kendall pulled the ball in. He decided to try to run with the ball instead of just dropping to the ground.
Linebacker Pina Tinoisamoa poked the ball loose. Atogwe was there.
He scooped up the fumble and raced 75 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown.
It was a game-changing play. The Rams had the lead 10-7 going into halftime.
Early in the third quarter, St. Louis kept the pressure on.
Jackson picked up chunks of yards against the defense to help move the Rams deep into Redskins territory.
Then Brown converted a 25-yard field goal to increase the Rams' lead to 13-7.
Later in the third quarter, Campbell was sacked by defensive end Leonard Little--who came in unblocked--and he fumbled the ball at the Redskins' 7-yard line.
Antwaan Randle El alertly raced in to recover the fumble, but the Redskins were ultimately forced to punt.
In what proved to be a critical mishap, Durant Brooks punted just 26 yards, giving the Rams great field position at the Redskins' 33-yard line.
The defense stepped up again and did not yield a first down, but Brown came on to kick another field goal--a 44-yarder--to give the Rams a 16-7 lead.
The fourth quarter began, and the Redskins needed to establish momentum--quickly.
Zorn stayed committed to the run game, and Portis and Ladell Betts found running room behind the right side of the line. Portis picked up 11 and nine yards on two runs, and then Betts came in for a 12-yard run.
At the Rams' 25-yard line, Campbell dropped back to pass but he was dragged down for a sack by Tinoisamoa.
Shaun Suisham came on to kick a 38-yard field goal, narrowing the Rams' lead to 16-10.
The Redskins would get the ball back with 8:18 remaining.
Again, it was the running game that helped the offense move downfield.
Portis picked up 29 yards following blocks by Chris Samuels and Kendall, quickly moving the Redskins into Rams territory.
Faced with a 3rd-and-14 at the Rams' 32-yard line, Campbell threw across the middle to Randle El, who caught the ball and eluded tacklers to get to the 2-yard line.
On the next play, Portis piled into the line behind Jansen for a 2-yard touchdown run, giving the Redskins the lead at 17-16.
There was 3:40 left on the clock, though.
And it proved to be just enough time for the Rams to steal a win over the Redskins.
After two NFC East road games, the Redskins return to FedExField this Sunday, Oct. 12, to host the St. Louis Rams. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
FedExField is a natural grass surface. The stadium seats 91,704.
Washington enters Week 6 on a four-game winning streak. The Redskins are 2-0 at FedExField this season, having defeated the New Orleans Saints and the Arizona Cardinals at home in Weeks 2 and 3.
The Redskins are coming off consecutive road wins over NFC East foes Dallas and Philadelphia. It's the first tme since 1987 that the Redskins have defeated divisional opponents on the road in consecutive weeks.
St. Louis arrives in Washington with a new head coach in Jim Haslett. The Rams fired Scott Linehan on Sept. 29 after they opened the season 0-4.
The game will be televised on FOX. Kenny Albert does the play-by-play, with Daryl Johnston adding color analysis and Tony Siragusa reporting from the sidelines.
On radio, the game will be broadcast locally on ESPN 980. Larry Michael handles the play-by-play with color commentary by Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff. Rick "Doc" Walker serves as sideline reporter.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
|WR||89 Santana Moss||81 Torry Holt|
|LT||60 Chris Samuels||76 Orlando Pace|
|LG||66 Pete Kendall||63 Jacob Bell|
|C||61 Casey Rabach||60 Nick Leckey|
|RG||77 Randy Thomas||68 Richie Incocgnito|
|RT||76 Jon Jansen||70 Alex Barron|
|TE||47 Chris Cooley||87 Anthony Becht|
|WR||82 Antwaan Randle El||17 Donnie Avery|
|QB||17 Jason Campbell||10 Marc Bulger|
|FB||45 Mike Sellers||36 Dan Kreider|
|RB||26 Clinton Portis||39 Steven Jackson|
|DE||99 Andre Carter||91 Leonard Little|
|DT||96 Cornelius Griffin||90 Adam Carriker|
|DT||64 Kedric Golston||95 Clifton Ryan|
|DE||92 Demetric Evans||72 Chris Long|
|SLB||53 Marcus Washington||51 Chris Draft|
|MLB||59 London Fletcher||51 Will Witherspoon|
|WLB||52 Rocky McIntosh||50 Pisa Tinoisamoa|
|LCB||24 Shawn Springs||26 Tye Hill|
|RCB||22 Carlos Rogers||24 Ron Bartell|
|SS||48 Chris Horton||25 Corey Chavous|
|FS||30 LaRon Landry||21 Oshiomogho Atogwe|
|P||14 Durant Brooks||5 Donnie Jones|
|K||6 Shaun Suisham||3 Josh Brown|
|H||14 Durant Brooks||5 Donnie Jones|
|LS||67 Ethan Albright||45 Chris Massey|
|KOR||31 Rock Cartwright||82 Dante Hall|
|PR||82 Antwaan Randle El||82 Dante Hall|
Sunday's Redskins-Rams game marks the 33rd meeting between the two clubs. The Redskins have played the Rams through the organization's professional football tenure in Cleveland, Los Angeles and St. Louis.
Washington holds a 20-7-1 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 12 meetings, but lost the last meeting 37-31 on Dec. 24, 2006, at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Rams running back Steven Jackson scored on a 21-yard touchdown run in overtime to provide the winning points. The Rams totaled 579 yards of total offense, including 252 by Jackson.
Ladell Betts led the Redskins' offense, finishing with 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries and two receptions for 35 yards.
In the postseason, the Redskins and Rams have met four times, once when the Rams played in Cleveland and three times when they were in Los Angeles. The clubs have split their four playoff encounters.
In 1945, Washington faced off against the Rams in the NFL Championship in Cleveland. Playing in sub-zero temperatures, the Rams fended off the Redskins and won 15-14.
Joe Gibbs' Redskins played the Rams twice in the playoffs during the 1980s. On Jan. 1, 1983, the Redskins manhandled the Rams 51-7 at RFK Stadium. On Dec. 28, 1986, the Redskins again defeated the Rams 19-7 at RFK Stadium.
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 2008 RANKINGS|
|RAMS 2008 RANKINGS|
FAMILIAR FACES ON THE RAMS
Offensive coordinator Al Saunders served as Redskins assistant head coach-offense under Joe Gibbs from 2006-07.
Offensive assistant Bob Saunders, Al Saunders' son, served as a Redskins assistant offensive coach from 2006-07.
Wide receivers coach Henry Ellard played for the Redskins from 1994-97. He led the Redskins in receptions his first three seasons with the club.
Backup quarterback Trent Green played for the Redskins from 1995-98. In 1998, Green started 14 games and threw for 3,441 yards and 23 touchdowns.
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.
REDSKINS-RAMS NEWS & NOTES
-- Zorn's First Season As Head Coach
Jim Zorn is 4-1 in his first five games as head coach. He is aiming to lead the Redskins to their third winning season in the last four years.
Zorn is looking to become the seventh Redskins head coach to record a winning record in his first year at the helm.
The list of first-year head coaches with winning records includes Ray Flaherty (7-5 in 1936), Dutch Bergman (6-3-1 in 1943), Dudley DeGroot (6-3-1 in 1944), Dick Todd (5-4 in 1951), Vince Lombardi (7-5-2 in 1969) and George Allen (9-4-1 in 1971).
Seven first-year head coaches finished their rookie campaign with a .500 mark, while 12 finished with a losing record.
-- Haslett vs. the Redskins
After the St. Lous Rams fired Scott Linehan on Sept. 29, they turned to veteran coach Jim Haslett to take over the team on an interim basis.
Haslett served as head coach of the New Orleans Saints from 2000-05, so he has experience leading teams. He has 45 career wins as a head coach.
Haslett was 2-1 against the Redskins as coach of the Saints. He lost his first game against the Redskins in 2001 by a 40-10 score, but then won matchups each of the next two seasons: 43-27 in 2002 and 24-20 in 2003.
Haslett is a defensive-minded coach. Al Saunders, former Redskins offensive coach, is the Rams' offensive leader.
-- Fast Starts
The Redskins have started the regular season 4-1 or better a total of 13 times since the 1970 merger.
Washington went on to qualify for the playoffs nine of the previous 12 times. They won at least one playoff game content in seven of those nine appearances.
In all five of the Redskins' Super Bowl appearances, they started 4-1 or better.
-- Winning the Turnover Battle
The Redskins have a 6 turnover ratio through five games, tied for tops in the NFL. They have intercepted five passes and recovered two opponent fumbles, while the Redskins' lone turnover was a fumble on a punt return.
Washington is the only NFL team without an offensive turnover and Jason Campbell is the only starting quarterback to have not thrown an interception.
As a team, the Redskins have gone 282 pass attempts with an interception in the regular season, dating back to last season.
Campbell is currently on a streak of 175 consecutive attempts without an interception, which is tops in franchise history.
The Redskins are only the third team since 1933 to have one or fewer turnovers in their first five games of a season. The others were the 1998 Bengals (one turnover) and the 1960 Browns (one turnover).
-- Defending the Best
In playing the Giants, Saints, Cardinals, Cowboys and Eagles in the first five weeks, the Redskins have faced off against the the NFL's first-, third-, fifth-, fourth- and ninth-ranked offenses, respectively.
This week, the Rams' offense is ranked 30th overall.
The Redskins' offense is ranked sixth overall through five weeks.
-- Time of Possession
The Redskins hold a 32:54-to-27:06 time of possession advantage over their opponents this season.
In their last four games, all victories, the Redskins have recorded 11 drives of 10 plays or more.
Against Philadelphia last week, the Redskins ran 75 offensive plays, 28 more than the Eagles.
-- Bartell a Local Product
St. Louis Rams starting cornerback Ron Bartell played his college ball at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Bartell 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.
-- Redskins Captains
The Redskins have elected six players as captains for the 2008 season. They wear a black "C" on their jersey during games.
On offense, Jason Campbell amd Chris Samuels are the captains.
On defense, Cornelius Griffin and London Fletcher are the captains.
On special teams, Rock Cartwright and Khary Campbell are the captains.
-- FedExField Attendance
FedExField is the largest stadium in the NFL with 91,704 seats. It is more than 11,000 seats ahead of the second biggest stadium, Giants Stadium.
The Redskins set a single-game attendance record--90,910--in the Dec. 30, 2007 game against the Dallas Cowboys.
-- What's Next?
The Redskins stay at FedExField for another week as they host the Cleveland Browns. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
The game is presented by the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association.
It's the first AFC contest for the Redskins this season. Last year, the Redskins were 2-2 against the AFC.