- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2000


The Washington Redskins' rushing offense defied credulity yesterday at FedEx Field, beating down the Baltimore Ravens' top-ranked run defense and picking up its two most important gains behind the blocking of hobbled left guard Keith Sims.
Playing on a painkiller and a prayer, Sims overcame his Achilles' tendinitis to spring Stephen Davis' 33-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter, the game's only touchdown, and carve just enough room for Davis to end the contest with a third-and-1 conversion at the two-minute warning.
Riding Davis' 89 second-half rushing yards, the Redskins won the so-called "Battle of the Beltways" 10-3 before 83,252. The victory was the fourth straight for Washington (5-2), which is demonstrating that it can win the tight, big games it will need to go deep into the playoffs.
"We're where we want to be," Sims said. "Everyone says we're not winning pretty. We're facing some tough, tough defenses, and that hasn't made it easy for us. But the way our defense is playing, if we don't turn the ball over, if we score a couple touchdowns, we're going to win."
Like many of the Redskins' wins this season, this one came with a price. Third cornerback Darrell Green strained a calf muscle in the first quarter, and could miss several weeks while recovering.
The Ravens (5-2) entered as the first team since 1925 to win two straight without scoring a touchdown. They again failed to reach the end zone, despite being on the 1-yard line in the final seconds of the first half before Baltimore quarterback Tony Banks threw an interception to linebacker Kevin Mitchell on that play. The Ravens never returned to the red zone.
"We've got to find a way to get something done," said Baltimore left tackle Jonathan Ogden, a District native. "Defensively, we can't hold people to 10 points and not win games."
Before the game, Sims told offensive line coach Russ Grimm that he could play against the Ravens or Sunday at Jacksonville but not, in all likelihood, both. Sims then took a shot to ease his pain something he swore he wouldn't do after numbing a toe several years ago and nearly suffering a career-ending injury.
"I [got shots in the toe] for 10 weeks," Sims said. "I made a promise to myself that I'm not going to do week after week of taking shots. I took a shot today, and I thought it was going to numb me up and help, but it really didn't help that much. I was still limping the whole game."
The Redskins' offensive line already had lost two starters to season-ending knee injuries, and it was even more uncertain with left tackle Chris Samuels nursing a bruised knee and Sims enduring his worst week of the past five. Sims actually crawled to the bathroom the night of Oct. 8, after playing on the hard turf at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.
"Keith Sims probably shouldn't have played today," Redskins coach Norv Turner said. "He sucked it up, went out and competed. I don't know how much longer he can go. We've got to get him some help."
Davis finished with 91 yards on 21 carries, despite picking up just 2 yards on five tries in the first half. Turner attributed Davis' lack of production before halftime to missed plays and few opportunities. Indeed, the Redskins' ability to convert third downs in the second half (4-for-6) allowed them to stick with Davis.
Davis' 33-yard touchdown came on the second play of the fourth quarter, his first action after suffering a pinched shoulder nerve four plays earlier. Sims picked up a blitzing defender, and Davis stiff-armed safety Rod Woodson, the only player with a chance to make the tackle.
"We have to thank the coaches for sticking with us," right tackle Jon Jansen said. "We knew we could run. We didn't have our 'A' game in the first half, but in the second half they did a great job of calling plays and we went out and blocked them."
The Redskins' fifth-ranked defense played an enormous role, of course, but it was helped by the Ravens' erratic offense. Banks completed just 16 of 27 passes for 135 yards, and rookie running back Jamal Lewis netted just 38 yards on 16 carries.
Baltimore actually was within Matt Stover's field-goal range on two of its three second-half drives, but a delay-of-game penalty turned a 52-yarder into a 57-yarder and forced a punt, and linebacker Shawn Barber ended the chance for a 49-yard attempt with a 9-yard sack. The Ravens finished just 5-for-13 on third downs.
"Everyone has been practicing well, but obviously it is not carrying over," Banks said. "We have to convert on third down. We can't keep a drive alive if we can't convert on third down."
The Redskins overcame two turnovers of their own in the possession-oriented game. Davis fumbled in the second quarter but Banks threw the goal-line interception on the resulting drive, and Brad Johnson (18-for-27, 158 yards) threw an interception in the third quarter but the Ravens were stymied by the delay-of-game penalty.
Washington ran out the game's final 5:30. Larry Centers (six catches, 51 yards) converted a third-and-9 on a shovel pass; Baltimore safety Kim Herring committed illegal contact on third-and-2; and Davis ran behind Sims and Samuels for 3 yards on the key third-and-1.
"That was a heck of a fight," Turner said. "[If] you like defensive football, to see guys go out and just compete, lay it on the line for four quarters, that's as good as you're going to get."

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