Determined to establish the run against Atlanta's defense, the Redskins executed with remarkable precision in building a 14-0 first-half lead. But the Falcons responded in the second half with a determined rushing attack of their own, and they rode it to a 24-14 victory on Sunday at FedExField.
The loss dropped the Redskins' record to 4-8 on the season. They remain in last place in the NFC East.
The Redskins' defense yielded 256 rushing yards to the Falcons, including a 69-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Jerious Norwood in the fourth quarter.
Jason Campbell struggled in the passing game--although he was victimized by several dropped passes--as he completed 18-of-38 passes for 217 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Betts was a workhorse back for the Redskins on Sunday, rushing for 155 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries. His running helped catapult the Redskins to their early lead, but the offense could not sustain its success.
"We lost our momentum, we made some mistakes, and we quit making plays," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "We have something we believe in. When we stick with it, I believe we can win football games. We're going through a tough time right now."
The Redskins opened the game in impressive fashion, dominating on both sides of the ball. Andre Carter sacked Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick on the game's opening drive, halting the Falcons and forcing a punt.
The Redskins' offense took over and coaches employed a strong ground attack, with Betts and T.J. Duckett picking up chunks of yardage against Atlanta's defense.
Campbell got in the act with a 13-yard scramble to the Falcons' 8-yard line. On the next play, Betts followed strong blocking by Chris Samuels, Mike Sellers and Chris Cooley to race into the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Redskins a 7-0 lead.
It was more of the same later in the first quarter: Washington continued to feature Betts. On the Redskins' second offensive possession, Betts followed another strong block by Samuels for a 15-yard pickup to the Falcons' 44-yard line.
One play later, Campbell fooled the Falcons on play-action and lofted a deep pass to Santana Moss near the goal line. Moss leaped above cornerback Allen Rossum and safety Chris Crocker to grab the pass, and he rolled untouched into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown reception and a 14-0 Redskins lead.
"The way we moved the ball downfield on our first two drives, it felt like it was going to be a great day for our offense," Campbell said.
Atlanta finally established some offensive momentum midway through the second quarter.
Vick completed a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Jenkins, then scrambled for 16 yards to the Redskins' 44-yard line. Norwood ran for 15 yards to the Redskins' 23-yard line, putting the Falcons in field goal range. Vick's third-down pass to Jenkins in the end zone was off the mark, so the Falcons settled for a 34-yard field goal by Morten Andersen.
Later in the second quarter, the Falcons used a big play to get into scoring range again. Vick completed a 46-yard pass downfield to tight end Alge Crumpler, who was pushed out of bounds by Vernon Fox at the Redskins' 9-yard line.
After a holding penalty pushed the Falcons back, Vick connected with Crumpler again, this time on a 16-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone. Crumpler ran an out pattern and caught the Vick's pass ahead of Fox for the score. Atlanta had narrowed the lead 14-10 at halftime.
The Redskins began the second half with a similar offensive approach: a strong rushing attack. Betts broke off runs of 14 and 15 yards to move the ball to the Falcons' 20-yard line.
On 2nd-and-11 at the Falcons' 21-yard line, Campbell dropped back to pass and was under intense pressure. He was nearly sacked by safety Lawyer Milloy, but Campbell was able to flip the ball away. Defensive end Chauncey Davis tipped the ball and grabbed it mid-air for an interception.
Davis ran up-field for 41 yards before he was caught from behind by Betts. Atlanta took over at the Redskins' 25-yard line.
One play later, Vick found Jenkins with a step on Kenny Wright running toward the end zone. Vick rifled the 22-yard touchdown pass to Jenkins to give the Falcons a 17-14 advantage.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Falcons responded after the Redskins had pinned them at their own 2-yard line. Vick completed a first-down pass to wide receiver Ashley Lelie, then scrambled for a 14-yard pickup.
The next play, Norwood took a handoff and ran past two blocks into open field. Fox had a shot at a tackle, but he slipped on the turf, allowing Norwood to break free. Sean Taylor and Carlos Rogers raced across field to try a touchdown-saving tackle, but Norwood cut inside and into the end zone for a 69-yard score.
The Redskins were forced to play catch-up, and Campbell initially struggled to get the ball downfield.
On 4th-and-4 at the Redskins' 36-yard line, Campbell was sacked by defensive end Paul Carrington, but the Falcons defender inadvertently grabbed Campbell's face mask to give Washington a first down.
Given new life, Campbell completed consecutive passes to Moss to move the ball to the Falcons' 39-yard line. Then Campbell found James Thrash for an 11-yard pass completion.
With the clock dwindling to under three minutes, Campbell dropped back to pass looking for a quick score. He was pressured on a blitz, but he was still able to loft a pass in the end zone to Antwaan Randle El. Falcons' free safety Chris Crocker stepped in front of the pass to pull in an interception.
The Redskins still had a chance at a comeback after Rock Cartwright blocked a punt by Michael Koenan just before the 2-minute warning. Reed Doughty recovered the ball and returned it to the Falcons' 27-yard line.
Moss, who finished the game with nine catches for 124 yards, caught a 9-yard pass to gibe the offense a first down at the Falcons' 2-yard line. But the Redskins' offense could not get the ball into the end zone.
Campbell's pass to Randle El on 4th-and-goal was batted away by Milloy, ending the game.
#### -- PRE-GAME COVERAGE
The Redskins host the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday in a matchup at FedExField on Sunday, Dec. 3. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET. It's the Redskins' third of four games against the NFC South this season.
The Redskins-Falcons game will be broadcast on FOX. Locally, WTTG-FOX 5 will televise the game. Sam Rosen calls the play-by-play with color analysis from Tim Ryan.
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 [17-13 win over the
](/news/article-1/redskins-claw-past-panthers-17-13/777A40D2-67BC-4A40-8261-84E2790C96C0) at FedExField.
The Falcons lost to the New Orleans Saints 31-13--their fourth consecutive defeat--and are struggling at 5-6. They are in third place in the NFC South.
Quarterback Michael Vick, a native of Newport News, Va., completed 9-of-24 passes for 84 yards in the game, and he used his mobility and elusiveness to rush for 166 yards. Vick was sacked three times, however.
On defense, the Falcons' secondary could not slow the Saints' top-ranked passing attack, yielding 332 yards including a 76-yard TD pass from Drew Brees to Devery Henderson.
#### -- PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
-- SERIES HISTORY
Washington leads the series against Atlanta with a 14-4-1 edge in a series that dates back to 1966. The Falcons are 1-10 in games played in Washington.
Washington and Atlanta have played only once in the regular season in the last 12 years. The Falcons have never played a regular season game at FedExField.
Atlanta's only appearance at FedExField was in the 2004 preseason, when the Redskins defeated the Falcons 27-0 on Sept. 3. The Redskins' defense, led by Gregg Williams, pressured quarterback Michael Vick relentlessly on Atlanta's first offensive series, so Falcons' coaches promptly removed Vick rather than risk injury.
The two teams last met in the regular season in 2003, when the Redskins came from behind to defeat the Falcons 33-31 at the Georgia Dome. Patrick Ramsey threw for a career-high 356 yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-39 passing. Falcons' running back T.J. Duckett, currently with the Redskins, ran for two touchdowns.
The teams have met in the postseason once, with the Redskins taking a 24-7 win over Atlanta at RFK Stadium on Jan. 3, 1992 in an NFC Divisional Playoff game.
-- TALE OF THE TAPE: REDSKINS-FALCONS
|REDSKINS 2006 STATISTICAL RANKINGS|
#### -- NEWS & NOTES
- Joe Gibbs is 7-1 all-time against the Atlanta Falcons. He faces Falcons head coach Jim Mora, Jr., for the first time.
- Redskins running back T.J. Duckett played four seasons with Atlanta after being selected by the Falcons in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft.
Duckett, a Michigan State standout, compiled 2,175 yards and 31 touchdowns in his Falcons career.
He arrived in Washington last August as part of a three-team trade with the Falcons and Denver Broncos. The Redskins sent a conditional draft pick to the Broncos, the Broncos sent wide receiver Ashley Lelie to the Falcons and the Redskins obtained Duckett.
Duckett has seen limited action as a Redskin. He has rushed for 90 yards on 19 carries this season.
- Redskins director of college scouting Scott Campbell began his NFL career with the Falcons in 1987, serving as an assistant to his father, then-head coach Marion Campbell. In 1990, Scott Campbell moved over to Atlanta's personnel department for a seven-season run as an area scout.
- Redskins' offensive assistant Jack Burns, tight ends coach Rennie Simmons and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor all previously worked for the Falcons organization.
Burns was with the Falcons from 1997-2002 working with quarterbacks, including Michael Vick. Simmons spent seven seasons with Atlanta from 1997-2004 working with tight ends. Lazor broke into the NFL as an offensive assistant.
- The Washington Redskins are teaming with Sprint Nextel to collect used wireless phones to benefit K-12 education programs. Sprint volunteers will be located at all gates prior to kickoff and will accept any brand of wireless phone, regardless of condition.
-- FAMILIAR FACES ON THE FALCONS
- Falcons senior defensive assistant-secondary coach Emmitt Thomas has a long history with the Redskins. In 1986, he was the Redskins wide receivers coach and then spent he next eight years (1987-94) as the defensive backs coach. Seven of Thomas's nine years were spent under the guidance of Joe Gibbs.
- Falcons quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave coached in Washington in the same capacity in 2005.
- Cornerback Omare Lowe spent one week on the Redskins' practice squad in 2004.