- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2006

Jason Campbell felt Lawyer Milloy tugging on the back of his jersey, but he knew the Washington Redskins’ offense had lost all momentum and could ill afford a sack that would take them out of field goal range.

So he did what young quarterbacks sometimes do under duress: He tried to make a play that wasn’t there and instead made a critical mistake.

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Chauncey Davis corralled Campbell’s throw-away flip and returned it 41 yards. Two plays later, Michael Vick’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins capped a Falcons comeback that produced a 24-14 win over the Redskins yesterday at FedEx Field.

A game that started so promisingly for the Redskins’ offense — it scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, and Campbell threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss on his second attempt of the day — ended in more disappointment. The offense stalled, and the defense was run over by the Falcons’ league-leading rushing attack.

Leading 14-0 with 2:43 left in the first quarter, the Redskins allowed the Falcons to score the final 24 points. The loss dropped the Redskins’ record to 4-8, realistically ending their already-slim postseason hopes. It was the biggest lead the Redskins had squandered since Gibbs’ return in 2004.

“We started the game off doing some really good things and game-plan wise, it was what we like to do and what we wanted to do,” said Gibbs, who conducted his postgame briefing with a bloody right hand that he caught on a door entering the locker room. “Somewhere in there, we quit making plays, made some bad plays and they picked up the momentum.”

The Redskins rushed for 177 yards, including a career-high 155 by Ladell Betts. But Campbell struggled (18-for-38 for 218 yards and two interceptions).

“I try to take something from each game and from each situation,” Campbell said. “You grow with the pains and keep your head up.”

Said associate head coach-offense Al Saunders: “Jason played like a young quarterback today. He did some really good things and is growing each week. But there were some things he would like to have back. But that will be the case almost every week.”

Even with Campbell laboring, the Redskins produced 382 yards, their most since Week 4. But that became moot because of Campbell’s two interceptions, Shaun Suisham’s missed 50-yard field goal and a defense that was gashed for a season-high 256 rushing yards and gave up drives of 73, 60 and 98 yards.

“We knew they would run the ball, so there’s no excuse,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said.

The loss was especially frustrating because of how well things started. The Redskins marched 69 and 70 yards on their first two possessions, capped by Betts’ 8-yard touchdown run and the Campbell-to-Moss connection. Moss had a season-high seven catches for 123 yards.

The Redskins’ final 11 drives, though, gained a total of 243 yards. Most puzzling was some of the play selection. The Redskins ran on 12 of their first 14 plays. After that Betts had only four more carries the rest of the half as Atlanta rallied to 14-10 at halftime.

“The way we started out, I felt like we were operating as well as we had all year,” Gibbs said. “And then we couldn’t sustain it.”

Said Betts: “I’m not going to question the play-calling right now. We were effective running the ball when we did run it.”

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