- The Washington Times - Monday, December 10, 2001

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Redskins pieced together another victory yesterday. This is how they've won six of their last seven games and resuscitated their playoff hopes with a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a dollop of defense, a smidgen of Stephen Davis, a pinch of passing, a spoonful of special teams play.
A couple of the key ingredients in the 20-10 conquest of the Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium was another touchdown pass to the Z-Man, Zeron Flemister, and some textbook punt coverage by Kato Serwanga. Or is it Kato Flemister and Zeron Serwanga?
So it goes for the NFL's most vanilla postseason aspirant. Indeed, Marty Schottenheimer seems to prefer it that way. If he can't beat you straight up, he'll come at you from 46 different directions one for each roster spot. It's doubtful the Cards had any nightmares about Flemister and Serwanga last week, but they might have done some tossing and turning last night.
"Serwanga really impressed me," Eddie Mason said of his fellow special teamer, who downed a punt on the 1-yard line and tackled returner MarTay Jenkins on the Arizona 6 another time. "He really helped us today, played with a lot of heart and passion out there. We were able to contain MarTay, and he's a great returner."
There was a great deal riding on the game for both clubs, but only one of them played like it. The Cardinals, on their best run since they went to the playoffs three years ago, couldn't get anything going. It was a strange atmosphere inside the stadium, one even Schottenheimer commented on. Here's the home team, coming off a huge win at Oakland, and barely 40,000 fans show up.
"There wasn't a lot of sound in the stadium," was how Marty put it.
There might have been if, on the Cardinals' first possession, Frankie Sanders hadn't dropped a 31-yard pass in the end zone, perfectly thrown by Jake Plummer. The Redskins aren't a good catch-up team; they're much better off when they can jump in front, milk the clock with Davis and let their defense dictate things. And a 7-0 deficit on the road given their offensive productivity of late might have proved difficult to overcome.
But Sanders, a frequent nemesis in the past, couldn't hang on. And when Bill Gramatica missed the subsequent field goal try, the Redskins drove for a touchdown a 2-yard flip to Flemister and never looked back.
It wasn't pretty, of course. Marty Ball is almost never pretty. The most unsightly blemish yesterday was 13 penalties, including a slew of downfield holding calls that wiped out some sizable gains.
"The penalties I don't know what to say about 'em," Schottenheimer said. "It says something about the guys in that locker room that we can have 13 penalties and still win the ballgame. [But] we left too many points out on the field."
Yes, they did. There's no reason the Redskins should have needed a goal line stand in the closing minutes to keep their palms from getting sweaty. They should have been at least three TDs to the good by then. But nothing is easy for this team. Every week is a trip to the dentist.
The good news is that Tony Banks and Co. looked a little smoother not great, but smoother. Davis got his 100 yards 110 to be precise and the short passing game had its moments. The Redskins even went deep once, in the fourth quarter, if you can believe that. Since Rod Gardner caught the jump ball for a 40-yard pickup, setting up the clinching score, maybe offensive boss Jimmy Raye will try it again sometime. (But don't hold your breath.)
It was such a rare opportunity that "regardless of where the pass was thrown, I was going to come down with it," said Gardner. "That's all you want to do make one play that's going to make a difference in the game."
That has kind of been the theme of the Redskins' resurgence a handful of guys making one play each week that makes a difference. Yesterday it was Flemister and Serwanga and LaVar Arrington picking off a pass just before the half to put another field goal on the board and Kevin Lockett coming up with an 18-yard reception on third-and-10 to keep a scoring drive going.
It ain't the St. Louis Rams, but "this kind of football is giving [us] a chance to win most every week," Schottenheimer said.
The Redskins have had their hearts broken here too many times to count. (And certainly too many times to recount.) But yesterday they escaped with their playoff hopes still intact and a daunting Philadelphia-Chicago-New Orleans gauntlet awaiting them. They won't be able to get away with 13 penalties against those teams. And doesn't their coach know it.

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