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Brunell, offense sputter at end
Question of the Day
So much for the Washington Redskins' new offense.
With the game on the line, Mark Brunell and Co. failed to make enough plays to avoid a loss to the Minnesota Vikings last night.
The Redskins scored only one touchdown in four trips to the red zone and constantly sputtered moving the ball. Brunell had difficulty getting the ball downfield; several of his bigger plays came on short throws that his receivers turned into big gains. The quarterback finished with 163 yards passing but could lead his team to only three points in the second half.
"They got the ball downfield," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "We had a tough time getting the ball downfield."
Brunell threw the ball away at least five times and credited the Vikings for keeping safeties deep. Even so, it was hard to explain why the Redskins couldn't take advantage of things underneath.
"It was a lot of things in the passing game, in the running game," Brunell said. "We are going to watch the film, and it is going to be frustrating because there were things that were there -- some plays, some yards, maybe even some touchdowns -- we left on the field, unfortunately. ...
"How far off we are, I am not quite sure yet. I do know we are a throw away, a block away, a run away from really doing some good things tonight. I thought we were close."
It was many of the same problems the 35-year old left-hander experienced last season, when the defense led the Redskins into the second round of the playoffs. Brunell did not throw any interceptions and did not do anything in particular to lose the game, but he did not make any plays that could have been the difference.
"I thought Mark handled himself real well today," associate head coach-offense Al Saunders said. "He had to throw the ball away a few times. It's always a work in progress. He will be better down the road. I was pleased."
Brunell clearly wasn't pleased at the inefficiency, particularly in the red zone.
"Three [points] is not good enough," he said.
Penalties for Taylor
Redskins safety Sean Taylor didn't dispute the two 15-yard penalties called on him in the fourth quarter.
The first was an unnecessary roughness call for hitting Marcus Robinson late.
The second was a face mask on running back Chester Taylor with 2:50 left. Replays showed Sean Taylor grabbed the side of Chester Taylor's helmet, but that's still a penalty. Six plays later, the Vikings' Ryan Longwell kicked a game winning 31-yard field goal.
"I didn't pull his face mask, but they called it, so I have to live with the calls," Taylor said.
Redskins safety Pierson Prioleau injured his right knee on last night's opening kickoff. Coach Joe Gibbs called it "pretty severe."
Prioleau, who called the injury "a freak thing," said X-rays were negative, and he will have an MRI today.
Prioleau's absence left the Redskins with only one safety in reserve — newcomer Vernon Fox.
Memories of 9/11
Seven current members of the Redskins played for Washington or the New York Jets when terrorists struck Washington and New York five years ago yesterday.
"The main thing I remember was the next few days at practice," said Ethan Albright, the Redskins' snapper. "It was dead quiet. Since we're so close to Dulles Airport, there are always planes going over. But now there was beautiful blue sky but dead quiet.
"We ended up going to a memorial service at Arlington Cemetery. We were so close to the Pentagon that we could see it. I zoomed in with my camera and got some pictures, and all of a sudden it was real. It was just hard to believe that we had been attacked."
Redskins receiver Santana Moss was a rookie with the Jets.
"When I got in the training room that morning, the trainers weren't giving anybody treatment," Moss said. "They were all watching the TV. They said, 'Did you see that plane that hit the tower?' And then as I'm watching, the second one hit. It was crazy. It was my first time away from home, and I couldn't believe what was going on. That will always be a memory for me of how I started off in the NFL.
"The next year, our hotel was right next to where the World Trade Center had been. If you walked out of the hotel and made a right, there was that big, old hole in the ground. It was tough to be there and not think about what had happened."
The Redskins listed cornerback Shawn Springs (abdominal surgery), defensive end Renaldo Wynn (sprained ankle), fullback Nehemiah Broughton and offensive tackles Jim Molinaro and Todd Wade as inactive for last night's game. Defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery and safety Reed Doughty, both rookies, also were listed as inactive.
Jason Campbell was the third quarterback, as he was throughout last season.
By Scott Pinsker
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