- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — At least the Redskins showed a little backbone yesterday. They didn't faint dead away at the first hint of crisis. In fact, for the first time all season, they actually went into the fourth quarter with a chance to win.
They didn't, of course. The Giants did, by the closer-than-it-looks score of 23-9. But finally, after two months of backpedaling, the Redskins took a step forward. Maybe they won't finish 0-16, after all.
"We decided we weren't going to come here and get our tails handed to us," said LaVar Arrington, who toughed it out on a gimpy knee. "I was trying to knock everybody out [of the game]. That's why I'm sore right now. People have to pay for Shawn [Barber, his closest buddy on the team, who's out for the year]. I'm trying to get enough for both of us."
No, you can't fault the Redskins' effort. And at times this season such as the second half of the game at Green Bay and the last three quarters of the one against Kansas City you could fault their effort. They didn't get down when Bruce Smith exited after one play with a dislocated shoulder. They didn't lose faith when, on a rare foray into the red zone, Tony Banks and Cory Raymer botched the snap (again) on a key third down.
But that's the only positive I can wring out of this latest Redskins defeat. Because, hey, they still lost by two touchdowns, they still failed to score a touchdown and they're still playing abominably in many areas. How good can anyone feel about that?
How good can anyone feel about five turnovers and one successful third-down conversion and barely eight minutes of possession time in the second half? Those were some of the gruesome statistics churned out by Banks and Co. yesterday. The Redskins have been held under 200 yards in three of their four games (and in the other, they broke loose for 218). To find another offense that was this hopeless, you'd have to go back to the Oorang Indians in the '20s.
All through training camp, Marty Schottenheimer talked about the "progress" he saw his team making. After a while, he began to sound like the kid in "Sixth Sense," the one who saw dead people. But Marty didn't take that tack yesterday hallelujah. Instead he said, "In this league, there has to be more than playing hard. There has to be execution. We have to play well in concert. We have to play well on offense, defense and in the kicking game."
This is good. The first step in solving any problem is admitting you have one. Until now, Schottenheimer has put a happy face on just about every Redskins catastrophe. But he may finally be beginning to understand how truly bad this team is, this team he assembled, because the Giants were very beatable yesterday. Kerry Collins had a game reminiscent of his Super Bowl follies, and in the second half the New York offense was without its two top backs Tiki Barber (who was already injured) and Ron Dayne (who went out with a sprained neck).
This forced Jim Fassel to turn to second-year man Damon Washington, who until yesterday had rushed for only one more yard in the NFL than me. But were the Redskins able to stop him? Uh-uh.Washington responded with a 90-yard performance, including runs of 15 and 22 yards on the winning drive.
"We had so many chances," Arrington lamented. They certainly did. Late in the second quarter, they had a chance to take their first halftime lead of the season, but rookie Rod Gardner fumbled at the New York 31 after a 16-yard reception. Another time they had a chance to start in Giants territory a rarity these days but rookie Central McClellion mishandled a partially blocked punt. In the final minutes, they had another chance for good field position with the Giants punting from their own end zone, but David Terrell picked up a dumb, dumb, dumb facemask penalty on the return.
So it goes with bad teams. It's always something. (It can be hard to point a finger at any one guy, though, because the players seem to take turns messing up.)
Banks, like his coach, discouraged any discussion of a moral victory. "A loss is a loss," he said. "This is the NFL. This isn't Troy State playing well against Miami this weekend.
"I've been through this before in St. Louis. You lose and lose and lose, and then you start to develop that here-we-go-again mentality when something bad happens in a game. The veterans on this team have to see to it that that doesn't happen here."
Next up for the Redskins is winless Dallas next Monday night. As a banner hanging at Veterans Stadium once said: May the worst team lose.

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