- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2004

The Washington Redskins’ already-depleted roster took another major hit yesterday when kick returner Chad Morton suffered a potentially serious right knee injury against the Green Bay Packers.

Morton got hurt on a kickoff return nine minutes into the Redskins’ 28-14 loss at FedEx Field. He will undergo an MRI today, but club officials already have determined he suffered some form of ligament damage.

It is feared Morton tore his ACL. If that’s the case, he would miss the remainder of the season. Even if the injury is less severe, it’s likely Morton will miss some time.

“He’s going to have an MRI on it tomorrow, so we’ll see where we stand with it,” said coach Joe Gibbs, still holding out hope the injury is not serious.

Morton, who played with a sprained left knee earlier this season, said he doesn’t believe his latest injury was caused by contact.

“It just kind of got caught in the turf,” he said. “After that, it got hit on. But I don’t even think it was a hit. I think I got caught right before I got hit. … I could tell something wasn’t right. Who knows? Maybe it’s just a bad sprain or something, not a tear.”

Ladell Betts replaced Morton on kickoff returns and James Thrash took over punt return duties.

Washington also lost safety Andre Lott to a left shoulder injury that also may be serious. Lott, filling in at free safety as rookie Sean Taylor served a one-game benching for last week’s DUI arrest, was seen in the Redskins’ locker room after the game with his left shoulder in a sling.

Cornerback Fred Smoot jammed his right shoulder in the fourth quarter but remained in the game.

Missing Taylor

There was no way to know what impact Sean Taylor might have had on yesterday’s game, but the Redskins did miss his presence in the secondary.

The rookie safety, who was made inactive by Joe Gibbs following his arrest Thursday for DUI and refusing to take a breathalyzer test, was not in attendance at FedEx Field as his teammates tried to contain Brett Favre and the Packers’ potent offense.

With their top draft pick unavailable, the Redskins still managed to intercept Favre three times. But the gun-slinging Green Bay quarterback did complete three passes of 40 yards or more, leading some to wonder whether Taylor would have made a difference.

“Toward the end of the game, you’re on the sideline and you start thinking about how they got the scores on us,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “‘Oh, Sean Taylor’s not there.’ It’s in the back of your mind. … We’ve got good guys back there. But Sean is just instinctive. He’s got a nose for the ball. You can’t replace that a lot of times.”

Gibbs said Taylor will be back at practice today and will play Sunday at Detroit.

“I’m convinced he’s going to be a great player for the Redskins,” the coach said. “Hopefully, he can make a difference for us down the stretch.”

Defense rebounds

In the game’s feature matchup, the Redskins’ top-ranked defense was shredded for several big plays by Green Bay’s second-ranked offense, but Washington did bounce back in the second half.

Gregg Williams’ unit ultimately held the Packers to a reasonable 361 yards. Ahman Green, the NFC’s leading rusher, rushed for only 70 yards and the Redskins created a season-high four turnovers.

Damage came early on long passes to wide receivers Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson, who had receptions of 41 and 48 yards, respectively. Green added a 48-yard gain on a screen pass.

The Packers’ 259 yards in the first half were more than Washington’s per-game yield (234.2) entering yesterday. But the Redskins switched some defensive responsibilities at halftime and limited Green Bay to 102 yards in the second half.

“They came out and had a bead on us in the first half,” said cornerback Fred Smoot. “I think Gregg did a [darn] great job of switching it up on them. They did nothing in the second half. They did nothing — not in passing game, not in the running game.”

Daniels returns

Defensive end Phillip Daniels emerged from his first game in more than a month confident that his tender groin hadn’t suffered a setback.

Daniels, the starting right end and powerful run-stopper, missed the last four games, but played “the majority” of yesterday’s 62 defensive plays and “felt good” after the game.

“It was tender every now and then,” Daniels said. “I won’t lie to you. But it’ll be stronger as the weeks go by. … The main thing [was] it didn’t set me back any. [Club officials] trusted me. I was ready.”

Kerry wins?

If precedent holds, Democrat John Kerry will be elected president tomorrow in the wake of Washington’s 28-14 loss to Green Bay yesterday. In the past 18 presidential elections, a Redskins victory in their last pre-election home game meant a triumph for the incumbent. When the Redskins lost or tied those games, the challenger won.

“You know I wanted to win this game, but thankfully Kerry will be the president,” said Fred Smoot, an ardent Democrat.

The streak began in 1936 when the Redskins still called Boston home. Coach Joe Gibbs apparently assisted his favored Republican party with victories in 1984 and 1988 before a loss in 1992 helped Democratic challenger Bill Clinton win.

One QB, two halves

In the first half, Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre looked like the cinch Hall of Famer that he is. He completed 14 of 18 passes for 234 yards, a touchdown and a 114.1 rating.

The second half was a different story. He was six of 15 for 55 yards, threw two of his three interceptions and his rating dropped to a lousy 61.3.

“They did a good job of scouting us,” said Fred Smoot, who had one of the interceptions. “They were finding holes in our blitz, finding where the guy was leaving from. … [So] we moved some people around in coverage and I think it kind of messed with Brett. He didn’t see what he thought he was going to see off our blitzes.”

Favre came into the game with a badly swollen passing hand and had his hand and right thumb examined by the Packers’ medical staff at least once after being hit in the second half. However, he refused to blame the injury for his precipitous dropoff.

“I’m not pleased with the way I played in the second half,” said Favre, who will be able to rest his hand during the Packers’ bye this week. “It would be nice to sit here and blame something else, but I’m not going to do it.”

Favre did pass Hall of Famer John Elway for second all-time with 4,133 completions and extended his streak to 32 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, also second all time.

Swede no more

The second game of Swedish kicker Ola Kimrin’s NFL career didn’t go as well as the first.

Kimrin, who hit both of his field goal attempts Oct.17 at Chicago and as a result became a celebrity in his home country, missed his only try yesterday. The effort, from 35 yards, was wide left in the fourth quarter.

The NFL’s second Swedish kicker — Bjorn Nittmo was the first — said there wasn’t much more he could have done on the attempt. He believed the kick moved a bit left and then got caught by the wind.

“You’re not supposed to aim outside of the right upright,” Kimrin said. “It was still a good kick. I just didn’t make it.”

Inactives

Kicker John Hall, safety Sean Taylor, linebacker Mike Barrow, linebacker LaVar Arrington, offensive lineman Mark Wilson, wide receiver Darnerien McCants and defensive end Ron Warner were inactive. Tim Hasselbeck was the third quarterback.

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