Monday, November 19, 2001

DENVER Yes, Kent Graham was sharp where Tony Banks was off-target. Yes, Graham rallied Washington from a 10-point deficit to a 17-10 upset of Denver in the wintry mix yesterday at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium. And yes, newly established starting quarterback Banks spent a good part of the second half at a local hospital where a CAT-scan was negative.
But, no the Redskins don’t have a quarterback controversy despite Graham’s heroics. Banks will start in Sunday’s critical NFC East game at Philadelphia if the aftereffects of the concussion allow him to do so.
“The fact that Tony is [already] back in our locker room is very encouraging,” Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said at the start of his postgame news conference.
Banks termed starting against the Eagles “a definite possibility” although he said he had never previously suffered such a serious concussion.
“I had a slight concussion [while playing for] St. Louis, but I never lost consciousness,” Banks said. “They said I was [knocked out yesterday], but I don’t remember being out. All I remember was being driven to the ground [by Broncos defensive tackle Leon Lett] and my head hitting the ground. I was a little scared. It took probably halfway on the ride to the hospital before I was feeling a little better.”
The Redskins, who had managed just 49 yards and no points on Banks’ five series, were certainly feeling better after Graham hit his first three passes to set up Brett Conway’s 48-yard field goal 11 seconds before halftime and moreso after the 10-year veteran connected with wideout Michael Westbrook and reserve tight end Zeron Flemister for touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The latter 3-yard play-action toss on third-and-goal with 2:48 remaining was the game-winner and finished Graham’s relief numbers at 12-for-18 for 123 yards and the two scores. That’s a magnificent 123.1 passer rating compared to Banks’ 40.2. Things went so well for Graham that the Redskins recovered both of his bobbled snaps while they lost both of Banks’ fumbles.
“I was delighted by Kent’s play,” Schottenheimer said of Graham, whom Washington signed on Sept. 26 after he was cut by Pittsburgh. “He’s a veteran. He understands that everything doesn’t go right for you. He certainly had good fortune on the one snap where he fumbled it and still managed to hand it off [to Stephen Davis]. An experienced guy like that gives you a sense of confidence because you know he’s not going to come unglued.”
Flemister said Graham had good “presence” in the huddle.
“When you’re thrown in the heat of the moment, a lot of times, you go back to your natural way of playing,” said the 33-year-old Graham, who came off the bench in 43 of his previous 91 games with the New York Giants, Detroit, Arizona and Pittsburgh. “You just play and you don’t worry about things and try to be as focused as possible.”

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