- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2001

In the final minutes of yesterday's game in Philadelphia, Stephen Davis was struggling to pull himself off the unforgiving Veterans Stadium turf.
Davis understandably was feeling the effects of his 22-carry effort and the punishment he had taken from the Eagles defense. He had shaken off a back injury that put him out of the game in the first quarter and had returned to carry the ball seven times on a final drive that resulted in an insurance field goal.
Davis' three most crucial carries came on runs of 6, 2 and 3 yards that gave the Redskins a first down and ran the clock from 5 minutes, 56 seconds to 3:46. The final drive required 15 plays and chewed up 8:55.
"If the [offensive linemen] weren't going to pick me off the ground," said Davis of the final minutes, "I don't know if I could have gotten up."
Davis left the game late on the Redskins' second drive with a sore back (for which he received treatment before returning) and nearly had a disastrous start, fumbling his fourth carry of the game before falling on it. Still, he could rest easy yesterday knowing there was no dropoff with Ki-Jana Carter behind him.
On the Redskins' third drive, Carter had runs of 5, 14 and 2 yards before a gritty 5-yard run that produced the game's only touchdown. The play began with Eagles tackle Hollis Thomas wrapping up Carter for a loss, but he shed the tackle and bolted into the end zone.
"Every other game, when he needs a breather, I come in, give him a play or two, and he goes back in," Carter said. "When they told me to go in, I didn't know what was the problem [with Davis]. I just saw him get up and come off the field. I just said, 'OK, it's my turn to pick up the slack, he'll be back later. Until then, I'll keep it going.'"
It was an opportunity Carter had waited for. The No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft had foundered in four seasons in Cincinnati before sitting out all of last season. Carter said the Eagles actually gave him a tryout last season, but as he said with a laugh, "I guess they didn't like me." Carter said he kept believing in himself and didn't lose confidence; he had seen limited action this season before yesterday (16 carries, 116 yards), but came within one yard of a season-high in rushing yards (56) on 18 carries.
"I couldn't be happier for anybody on this team given what he has been through," coach Marty Schottenheimer said.
Alexander hampered
Tight end Stephen Alexander appeared in his first game since spraining his right ankle against Dallas Oct. 15. He entered on the game's third play, but saw little action after the first quarter and didn't catch a pass.
"It's pretty sore," said Alexander, who made the Pro Bowl last season. "I guess we'll just have to wait and see how it feels Wednesday and later in the week. I don't think there's anything structurally wrong with it."
Alexander said yesterday he thinks he will play Sunday against Dallas, but if he can't, backups Zeron Flemister and Walter Rasby have proved themselves to be worthy replacements. Flemister factored in the Redskins' touchdown drive by hauling in a 23-yard pass on the first play of the second quarter to put the ball at the Philadelphia 7.
" Tony Banks threw it right out there for me," Flemister said. "I was trying to score, but my momentum carried me out of bounds."
Flemister, more of a receiving tight end than Rasby, had two receptions yesterday and has caught eight passes in the last four games. He and Rasby have combined for 10 catches in the last four games, though Rasby sprung Stephen Davis and Ki-Jana Carter for gains around the flanks of the Philadelphia defense.
"We're fortunate to have three guys," Alexander said. "I think we're fortunate you don't see that very often."

Bracing for the worst
Duce Staley's timing could not have been much worse. With the Eagles trying to mount a drive for a game-tying touchdown with under 13 minutes to play, Staley's shoulder brace in place to protect an injury he sustained against Seattle broke, forcing him to miss several plays. Staley's absence forced rookie Correll Buckhalter (back from a one-game suspension) to get the call on an unsuccessful fourth-and-1 play from the Redskins 35.
"I expect [Buckhalter], when he is in there, to get the first down, to be very honest," Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said.

Healthy returns
The way both teams were performing or not performing offensively yesterday, special teams were bound to play a factor. Sure enough, with the Redskins holding just a 7-0 lead late in the first half, Eric Metcalf set up a scoring opportunity for his team.
Philadelphia's Sean Landeta who punted six times in the first half boomed a 60-yarder that backed up Metcalf to his 25, but he returned it 30 yards to the Philadelphia 45, putting the Redskins in business with 1:17 left in the first half. The return set up a 43-yard Brett Conway field goal that put the Redskins up 10-0.
"I had a lot of space when I got it," Metcalf said. "At the same time, when I was coming up the field, the guys in front of me were doing a great job of shielding guys off and getting me out."
Metcalf, who returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown against the New York Giants Oct. 28 the first time he touched the ball as a Redskin, had been slowed in recent weeks. Metcalf said he just hadn't had many opportunities lately, especially last week at Denver, where weather and field conditions were factors.
"We had some time to do some things today," Metcalf said. "That's all we wanted, was an opportunity."

Bailey-Thrash duel
Cornerback >Champ Bailey remembered many practices when receiver James Thrash tested him when they were teammates in 1999 and 2000. When they first joined the team, Bailey was a first-rounder and Thrash an unproven prospect.
The pair reunited when the Redsksins put Bailey man-to-man on Thrash, the Eagles' top receiver after signing with Philadelphia in the offseason. Thrash caught four passes for 32 yards, but Bailey forced several incompletions to gain a slight edge in the personal competition.
"We know each other very well," Bailey said. "James knows what he needs to do to try to get open, but I mixed it up on him. Every time he tried to catch it I was right there. … I give him a lot of credit for what I am today. I worked hard against him in practice."
Bailey has now focused on one receiver in four of the last five games after largely playing zone coverage in the first month.
"What we've done is let Champ go to work against [one] guy," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "It doesn't have to be their most productive receiver, but maybe the guy we think they're going to try to feature."

Gardner rebounds
Receiver Rod Gardner rebounded from three lackluster games with a team-best four catches for 33 yards, including a third-down 13-yarder that kept the final drive alive.
"I had a checkoff to come down on a slant on a safety blitz. I had to be patient and wait for the ball to come to me," Gardner said.
Quarterback Tony Banks said he wasn't looking specifically for Gardner downfield.
"I'm not the type of quarterback who throws to whoever's catching the ball," Banks said. "If a read takes me to a certain guy it could be any kind of number over there. On a couple plays today Rod made great plays."
After six receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown against Carolina on Oct. 21 to earn NFC offense player of the week honors, Gardner caught only five passes for 57 yards and one touchdown over the past three games. Gardner denied hitting the "rookie wall," when the combined preseason and regular-season exceeds the normal college schedule.
"You get a little sore here and there and maybe slow down a little bit, but it hasn't bothered me," he said.

Conway 2 of 3
A strong wind tested kicker Brett Conway, but he conceded the missed 37-yarder was simply a bad kick.
"I didn't give the wind any chance to be a factor," he said. "I just mishit it. Just everything went wrong."
Conway followed with 43- and 32-yarders and has converted 15 of 18 this season. His kickoffs were also impressive in both distance and angle. Thrash gained only 21 yards on two returns while Brian Mitchell gained 20 yards on one return.
"You shut them down, you shut a big part of their game down, so we concentrated on it all week," Conway said.

INT recalled
The Redskins could have put the game away three plays into the second half but an away-from-the-play penalty negated an interception by rookie linebacker Antonio Pierce .
Pierce made the pick on a third-and-1 pass that Eagles tight end Chad Lewis couldn't handle. Pierce ran 35 or 40 yards to the Philadelphia goal line going out of bounds short of a score but knocking quarterback Donovan McNabb to the ground with a stiff-arm.
The play, however, was nullified by safety David Terrell's holding penalty against tight end Jeff Thomason. Terrell later said that he was trying to get position on Thomason's inside route and got called for the type of contact that happens on virtually every play.
"I was disappointed that it happened," Terrell added with a laugh. "I was already down the field celebrating."

Samuels strong
Chris Samuels held Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas without a sack in what the young left tackle considers his premier matchup. Douglas, however, did get behind the line to hit running back Ki-Jana Carter for a loss in the second quarter, and he was in position to pummel quarterback Tony Banks on one of Corey Simon's two sacks.
It was a second victory in the battle for Samuels, a second-year player who gave up two sacks to Douglas in last year's first meeting but shut him out in the second. Douglas, a seventh-year veteran, was named to his first Pro Bowl last season.
"I went back and studied the two game films from my rookie year, and saw why I got beat," Samuels said. "I noticed that every time I came out on a pass set I had my hands at my sides. And he's a strong guy. He loves the bull-rush. He bull-rushed me every time. So I adjusted that. I knew I had to get on him first."

Eagles notes
In his third time playing against his former team, Philadelphia's Brian Mitchell was again a non-factor, returning two punts for 10 yards and one kickoff for 20 yards. … The Eagles broke a streak of 24 consecutive games with a touchdown, dating to Sept. 17 of last season against Green Bay. … Defensive tackle Corey Simon recorded two sacks and three tackles for a loss.

Inactives
Cornerback Central McClellion, linebacker Donte Curry, guard Matt Campbell, defensive tackle Donovan Arp, guard Alex Sulfsted, receiver Darnerian McCants and defensive end Otis Leverette were inactive.
Duff Durkin, Rick Snider, Jody Foldesy


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