- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2008

When the Buffalo Bills last visited Washington in December, the Redskins and their fans mourned Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor, who had been slain that week. In losing a fourth straight game in the final seconds, the Redskins gave little inkling they were about to go on a run and turn into a playoff team.

Last night, the Bills were back in town, albeit for a preseason game, and the Redskins built an early lead with their starters and held on to win 17-14 in Jim Zorn’s first home game as Washington’s coach.

Starting quarterback Jason Campbell (7-for-10, 71 yards) was sharp for a second straight week, while reserve running back Ladell Betts (five carries, 41 yards) ran like a starter. Jason Taylor and Andre Carter each had an impact in their first outing as bookend passrushers, while running back Clinton Portis scored in his first preseason game in two years, and veteran receivers Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El (who suffered a minor wrist injury) and James Thrash all made big catches for first downs.

“I was very impressed with the starting unit [producing] two drives that resulted in scores,” Zorn said. “I thought Jason was poised. He tried to keep the tempo going. I was very impressed in our run game [155 yards on 31 carries]. Clinton … you can see what kind of special back he really is. Ladell did a wonderful job, too. And Marcus Mason ended up getting [80] yards again, most of it on the last drive, which we really needed.”

After Mason fumbled the opening kickoff, Buffalo’s Roscoe Parrish got behind rookie cornerback Justin Tryon for 18 yards on third-and-11 to put the Bills in position for Rian Lindell’s 26-yard field goal. Campbell completed his first three passes. The second of those was a 15-yard strike over the middle to Moss on third-and-4. However, Campbell and Moss couldn’t connect on third-and-2 at the Buffalo 48, and Washington had to punt.

With Taylor having flipped from left end to right end, the six-time Pro Bowl pick started Washington’s second defensive series by drawing a Bills offensive tackle offside for the second time in nine plays. Carter, who had switched from the right to the left side, batted down a third-down pass to end the possession.

“We did all right,” Taylor said. “I can’t wait for the season to begin.”

After a short punt, the Redskins took over at their 47. On third-and-5, Campbell found Randle El on a crossing route for 19 yards. Despite 10-yard penalties on veterans Jon Jansen and Thrash, the Redskins kept the drive going when Betts powered for 12 yards, and Campbell and Thrash hooked up for 11. That put the ball on the Buffalo 4, from where it took Portis four carries to punch the ball into the end zone and give the Redskins a 7-3 lead.

“It was great for Coach Zorn to go for [the fourth down],” Campbell said. “It shows how much he trusts us to be able to get that [touchdown].”

Most of the starters were on the sidelines when strong safety Reed Doughty sacked Bills backup quarterback J.P. Losman to end Buffalo’s third series after three plays. Washington’s Shawn Springs had started at free safety for the first time in his 12-year career in place of LaRon Landry (hamstring). Fred Smoot and Leigh Torrence started at the cornerbacks for Springs and Carlos Rogers (knee) and Khary Campbell opened at weak side linebacker for Rocky McIntosh (knee).

Washington had opened with all of 11 of its expected starters on offense, but they played two series. Backup quarterback Todd Collins connected on four of his first five passes for 33 yards. Betts added runs of 9 and 11 yards to give the Redskins a first down at the Buffalo 12 before taking a screen pass from Collins into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead.

Lindell cut the gap with a 25-yarder before Ashton Youboty’s interception of an errant Collins throw set up a 16-yard touchdown pass from J.P. Losman to rookie James Hardy. A two-point toss to Justin Jenkins tied the score at 14-14 with 71 seconds left in the half. Shaun Suisham redeemed himself for last week’s 39-yard miss by kicking a 46-yarder 3:11 into the third quarter. Those would be the winning points.

Unlike last week, when second-team offensive tackles Todd Wade and Stephon Heyer both suffered substantial injuries, the injuries the Redskins incurred in the first half Saturday weren’t serious. Defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander, linebacker Khary Campbell, rookie safety Kareem Moore (stinger) all returned after turning ankles. X-rays were negative on reserve receiver Anthony Mix’s rib injury.

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