Washington fans were treated to another chapter in the perils of Patrick Ramsey last night in Landover.
The Redskins’ quarterback heard boos for the second straight week when his fourth pass was picked off for a touchdown. But Ramsey bounced back with perfect accuracy on a clutch drive before halftime that tied the preseason game in which the Redskins eventually beat the defending AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10 before a crowd of 73,957 at FedEx Field.
“Patrick needed it,” offensive tackle Jon Jansen said. “We all needed it. It wasn’t just Patrick playing well. We could have gone in the tank after that turnover, but the guys bounced back.”
The Redskins (1-2) will get a chance to even their preseason record Thursday when they head to Baltimore to face the Ravens in the preseason finale.
Ramsey, who had the highest percentage of passes intercepted of any of the NFL’s 26 returning starting quarterbacks, was victimized for the fourth time in 33 attempts this summer when James Thrash cut in and the pass went out [-] directly to Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who made the easy interception and raced untouched 34 yards for the game’s first score with 3:48 left in the first quarter.
But after missing four straight throws midway through the second quarter, Ramsey was as sharp as he has looked this preseason, going 5-for-5 for 39 yards. Those completions included bullets to receiver David Patten for 17 and 9 yards and the nicely lofted 4-yard touchdown to H-back Chris Cooley with 10 seconds left in the half that made it 10-10.
“Punching the ball in was big,” said Ramsey, who finished 12-for-19 passing for 141 yards.
Added coach Joe Gibbs: “Patrick played well. It was his best outing of the preseason.”
Backup quarterback Mark Brunell and third-string running back Rock Cartwright led the 12-play, 85-yard game-winning drive with Brunell going 5-for-5 for 51 yards while Cartwright carried six times for 20 yards, including the 10-yard touchdown with 7:44 remaining in the third quarter. Rookie quarterback Jason Campbell looked shaky in making his home debut in the fourth quarter.
Willie Parker returned the opening kickoff to the Pittsburgh 41-yard line and Hines Ward beat cornerback Shawn Springs for 11 yards on the first play from scrimmage, but Washington’s defense stiffened and didn’t allow the Steelers another yard.
After sitting out last week with an ailing elbow, Redskins running back Clinton Portis looked quick and shifty while rushing on five of Washington’s first six plays for 31 yards. Ramsey hit Thrash for 13 yards on another snap, but the Redskins were whistled for 12 men on the field on third-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 47. After the 5-yard penalty, Ramsey badly underthrew Santana Moss on a bomb on which the speedy wideout had gotten well behind cornerback Deshea Townsend.
Portis got the Redskins going with two runs for 16 yards on their next series. Ramsey then found Moss open and the new No. 1 receiver turned a respectable 16-yard gain into a 40-yarder. However, Patten came up a yard shy on the next third down and Washington settled for John Hall’s 28-yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining in the quarter.
The Steelers matched those three points on their ensuing series thanks to Parker scooting 51 yards — 25 yards longer than the longest run allowed by the NFL’s No. 3 defense last year [-] and safety Sean Taylor giving them another first down at the Washington 15 with an illegal contact penalty. Tackle Cornelius Griffin pressured Ben Roethlisberger into throwing the ball away on third-and-1 at the 6, setting up Jeff Reed’s 24-yard field goal.
Trailing 10-3, Ramsey completed his next three passes, including an underthrown 28-yarder on which Moss adjusted beautifully to beat defenders Ike Taylor and Chris Hope to the ball. However, Ramsey misfired on his next three passes and Andy Groom had to punt.
“I was very pleased with both starting groups,” Gibbs said. “It was a good solid all-around effort. Hopefully there’s some things we can build on.”