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Danny Amendola exposes Redskins’ scattered secondary

- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2012

ST. LOUIS — Danny Amendola isn't the sort of wide receiver who keeps defensive coordinators up late inventing new ways to stop him.

Undrafted out of Texas Tech, Amendola started 10 games over parts of four NFL seasons entering Sunday's contest between the St. Louis Rams and Washington Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome. Somehow the 5-foot-11 Amendola transformed into a defensive nightmare the Redskins' defense couldn't end.

Amendola wasn't the biggest or fastest or strongest player on the field. Instead, he seemed, at times, to catch anything quarterback Sam Bradford threw near him and, inexplicably, found himself open play after play against the Redskins' scuffling secondary.

Lost in the glitter of last week's 40-32 win at the New Orleans Saints, the Redskins allowed 326 yards passing. Those issues didn't improve against the Rams, coming off a 2-14 season.

In the first half, Amendola caught 12 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. The 12 catches tied Reggie Wayne's NFL record for the most grabs in one half and resembled something you'd expect from sure-handed New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker. By the time Amendola and the Rams finished with their 31-28 victory, he had 15 grabs for 160 yards.

Brandon Marshall holds the NFL's single-game record with 21 catches.

Bradford's first seven completions were to Amendola, six on one drive. Most of the balls were short -- nine gained 10 yards or less. Redskins defenders weren't physical with Amendola, not an imposing presence, and veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall struggled to make plays.

Over and over, the public address announcer repeated, "Bradford pass to Amendola."

So Bradford found Amendola open for a 56-yard gain as the receiver sprinted through the Redskins' defense in the second quarter to eventually set up a his 1-yard touchdown catch.

Even halftime couldn't provide the Redskins with the right adjustments to slow Amendola.

One third-quarter play epitomized the game-long struggle. Backed into 3rd-and-6 at their own 24-yard line, the Rams faced the dire prospect of giving the ball back to the Redskins after quarterback Robert Griffin III scored on the previous series.

Out of the slot, Amendola ran an out toward the left sideline. Two Redskins defenders played off him. Bradford pitched a 17-yard pass to him as easily as during pregame warm-ups when the red and blue seats were empty and Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" drifted through the dome.

The duo of Redskins weren't close to making a play or even adding to the difficulty of Amendola's catch.

They weren't just a step late. They were a game late.

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