- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2007

This definitely wasn’t the start Jason Campbell imagined. The Washington Redskins quarterback was making the first opening-day start of his NFL career, and his first completion went to the other team.

On the Redskins‘ third play from scrimmage, Campbell threw the ball behind tight end Chris Cooley over the middle. Miami Dolphins safety Renaldo Hill picked off the pass and returned it 24 yards to the Washington 39-yard line.

It was tough, Campbell said. I didnt want to start my opener that way. They always say it is not how you start, it is how you finish.

The former first-round pick did not put up big numbers — he finished 12-for-22 for 222 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions — but he looked comfortable and made big plays in crucial situations.

None was bigger than on the opening drive of overtime. The Redskins faced third-and-7 at their own 43. The Dolphins blitzed, hoping to rattle the young quarterback, force a punt and get the ball back for a game-winning score.

Campbell, however, stayed poised and dumped the ball to Cooley over the middle for a 10-yard gain and a first down. Five plays later, Shaun Suisham kicked the game-winning field goal.

When he got down the field on that third-and-7, that was big time, guard Randy Thomas said.

The clutch completion was one of several creative plays Campbell made. He avoided the rush on third-and-2 midway through the fourth quarter, rolled out and found Antwaan Randle El for an 8-yard gain and a first down. Six plays later, Suisham kicked a field goal that put the Redskins up 13-10.

Campbell in the third quarter connected on a 49-yard bomb to Randle El that set up the Redskins‘ lone touchdown. Campbell showed his mobility by racing out of the pocket on third down for a 12-yard gain that kept a drive alive late in the third quarter.

Campbell did not exactly shine in his first opening start, but he did show enough to suggest a promising future.

My goal today was to come out and attack and move the ball, said Campbell, who started seven games late last season in relief of Mark Brunell. I was able to get a couple scrambles in and we got a couple hot reads, which was big. It’s not always the big throws. Sometimes it’s the little throws that make the difference.

A healthy return: Four-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Chris Samuels, who missed all of the preseason with a sprained right knee, held up well against the Dolphins‘ standout pass-rusher, Jason Taylor. Taylor picked up a sack, though he appeared to jump the snap. He otherwise was credited with one hurry and just three tackles.

“The knee held up great, Samuels said. It’s healed. I’m just going to keep the brace on it for a while. Conditioning-wise, I did a good job preparing myself and I really didn’t get tired at all.

Smoot drops the ball: Fred Smoot’s official return to Washington was eventful. Smoot started ahead of cornerback Shawn Springs, was thrown at most of the game and dropped a sure interception with 28 seconds left that likely would have resulted in a game-winning return for a touchdown.

“I was trying to run before I had the ball in my hand because I saw the [end] zone, Smoot said. Gotta say sorry to the Redskins fans. I put you through three or four minutes of drama. My fault.

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