- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2001

PHILADELPHIA Last week it was Brian Griese looking lost in a snowstorm. This week it was Donovan McNabb with no one open and, more importantly, nowhere to run.
The Washington Redskins' defense dominated a gifted young quarterback for a second straight game, this time shutting down the Philadelphia Eagles' McNabb to key a 13-3 victory yesterday at Veterans Stadium before 65,666.
The win made Washington the first club in NFL history to follow an 0-5 start with five straight victories. Just as importantly, it allowed the Redskins to go 2-0 in a crucial road stretch at Denver and Philadelphia and revive once-lost playoff hopes.
"This defense played the best I have seen a defense play in a long time against a very dangerous football team," defensive end Bruce Smith said. "But I'm not going to sit here and start praising us, because this is only a start for us. We want to make it six in a row, and after that seven in a row."
The Redskins entered the two-game stretch having won three straight at home to turn around their first season under coach Marty Schottenheimer. They knew they were facing two teams with scoring potential, potential that would be greater on the road.
But Denver's Griese completed just 11 of 31 passes for 114 yards and a 57.7 rating, unable to rally the Broncos as the Redskins scored just enough for an ugly win.
McNabb fared no better, hitting 15 of 27 attempts for 92 yards and a 62.6 rating. Although McNabb's run/pass threat is considered the NFL's best he nearly earned the league's Most Valuable Player award last season he struggled yesterday against a conservative scheme that used rare blitzes and tight coverage.
"We tried to keep him contained, and as far as the secondary, we tried to lock up their receivers," safety David Terrell said. "We thought we matched up well against their receivers. We felt we really didn't have to blitz that much."
Now Washington stands alone in second place in the NFC East (thanks to the New York Giants' loss to the Oakland Raiders yesterday), just a game behind the first-place Eagles (6-4). And the Redskins, because of a Dec. 16 home game against Philadelphia, control their own destiny an astonishing fact considering their disarray six weeks ago.
"The biggest thing is no one gave up hope," guard Dave Szott said. "No one pointed fingers, as frustrated as everyone was. Everyone just kept the faith in each other. We're improving every week."
The Redskins generated just 240 yards against the Eagles' sixth-ranked defense and blew several early scoring opportunities. But running backs Stephen Davis and Ki-Jana Carter combined for 40 carries and 135 rushing yards, and quarterback Tony Banks, who suffered a concussion at Denver, hit big passes in the fourth quarter.
Washington's key drive was its last, which went 50 yards in 15 plays, consumed 8:55 and ended with a game-sealing field goal with 30 seconds remaining. Davis and Carter rushed 12 times on the series and Banks hit two precise throws a 13-yarder on third-and-9 to Rod Gardner and an 11-yarder to Michael Westbrook.
Szott called the drive "perfect," saying, "We were struggling a little bit. We tried a couple different things [schematically] and missed some blocks. We finally simplified it [and said], 'Hey, let's go back to what we were doing.'"
The drive ended any chance to tie for the Eagles, who were given some hope by key third-quarter penalties on the Redskins but were stifled on two fourth-down attempts.
The penalties followed a first half in which the Redskins received no flags. First Washington lost an interception by linebacker Antonio Pierce when Terrell held an Eagles tight end away from the play. Then two false starts turned a Redskins third-and-2 into a doomed third-and-12. And then a personal foul for retaliation by linebacker LaVar Arrington pushed Philadelphia into field-goal range, giving the Eagles their only points.
But the fourth quarter brought the fourth-down stops. First cornerback Darrell Green made a play on a poorly thrown ball from McNabb to Todd Pinkston on fourth-and-3 on the period's first play. Then Arrington stuffed running back Correll Buckhalter on fourth-and-1 with 9:25 left.
Schottenheimer called the stops "enormous," saying "there's no telling where they go" if the Eagles had converted either play.
Washington's offense stagnated in the second half prior to the final drive, but it was fairly effective before halftime. The scoring came on Carter's 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, capping a six-play, 60-yard drive, and on a field goal by Brett Conway with eight seconds left in the half.
Carter played on the touchdown drive because Davis' back became sore on Washington's second series. Davis joined linebackers Eddie Mason (thigh) and Kevin Mitchell (shoulder) in returning to the game despite injuries, demonstrating another facet of the Redskins' renewed attitude.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game out there today," Mason said. "If it wasn't an ACL or something torn, I had to find a way to get out there and help these guys win. That's the attitude for this entire team."

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