- The Washington Times - Monday, October 22, 2001

Washington Redskins kicker Brett Conway admitted to hoping receiver Rod Gardner hadn't scored the winning touchdown yesterday. Conway wanted to beat the Carolina Panthers himself.
Conway's 23-yard field goal in overtime gave Washington a 17-14 victory. It also redeemed him for barely missing a 32-yarder with 36 seconds left in regulation. Conway's winning kick was needed when replay officials overturned Gardner's touchdown, ruling he was down on the 5-yard line. The Redskins didn't risk a fumble and immediately went to Conway.
"I thought it was going to be bittersweet and I was going to be upset with myself even though I kicked the game-winning field goal," he said. "But it's a win and that's more important."
Conway's earlier miss was a stunner. The Redskins rallied from a 14-0 fourth-quarter deficit and moved 67 yards to the Panthers' 13-yard line to set up the potential game-ending field goal. Conway's kick looked good until a late twist above the right upright was ruled wide.
"They say if the ball goes right over the upright it's good," Conway said. "This is supposed to be a home call and we didn't get it."

Practice makes perfect
Quarterback Tony Banks said connecting a few deep passes during practice last week meant the difference against Carolina. Banks completed 17 of 30 for 346 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
"We finally hit a couple in practice. They've been off fingertips, overthrown, underthrown any way to miss a deep ball we've missed it," he said. "It was nice to get a little success in practice. Rod [Gardner] had a couple of big catches during the week. Practice carried over to the game."
Kent Graham replaced Banks for two snaps during a late fourth-quarter drive after Banks banged his right hand on offensive tackle Chris Samuels' shoulder pads. Banks said his hand has bothered him for weeks.
"[Pain] shoots up my whole arm, but I know it will die down," Banks said.

Davis gets 99
Running back Stephen Davis narrowly missed 100 yards for the second straight game. He gained 99 yards on 26 carries against Carolina after 97 yards against Dallas on Oct. 15. Davis also fumbled for the fifth time this season.

Two-sided coin?
Offensive tackle Jon Jansen's grin betrayed his confidence before the overtime coin toss. He looked like a gambler holding a royal flush on the night's biggest pot.
"At the beginning they called heads and it came up tails," Jansen said. "When they came back [in overtime] they called tails and I knew it would come up heads."
The Redskins won both coin tosses for the first time this season and ended the game on the first overtime series.

Forgotten picks
Three first-half interceptions by the Redskins defense were mostly forgotten by game's end. But they were nearly as important as LaVar Arrington's 67-yard touchdown return of a pick in the fourth quarter.
All three first-half interceptions came in Redskins territory. The first was by safety David Terrell at the 18 after a tip by safety Sam Shade. The second was by defensive end Kenard Lang at the 21. And the third was by defensive end Otis Leverette at the 10 after a tip by defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson.
The last two, in particular, appeared to save forthcoming touchdowns. Lang simply jumped up and got the ball after Panthers rookie quarterback Chris Weinke threw while being hit; Leverette dove for the ball swiping it just before Lang got to it after Wilkinson got his hands up to deflect Weinke's pass at the line.
"We made a lot of big plays in the red zone," Lang said. "[Those three interceptions were] 21 points. Or they could have scored nine points on field goals. That was a big turnaround for us. It helped the offense out. That's our job."

Stuck with Central
The Redskins had a key question mark at the third cornerback position, where rookie Central McClellion saw playing time because starter Fred Smoot (leg) and veteran reserve Donovan Greer (out for the season with an ACL tear) didn't play. McClellion began the year on the practice squad.
Carolina began attacking McClellion in the second half, picking on him in two key third-down conversions on the 83-yard touchdown drive that made it 14-0. Receiver Isaac Byrd caught both passes. The first was a 36-yarder on third-and-8, on which McClellion said Byrd pushed off, the second a 6-yarder on third-and-5.
Coach Marty Schottenheimer stuck with McClellion, though, refusing to move Terrell to cornerback and Keith Lyle to free safety. The coach's confidence seemed to pay off as McClellion regrouped and didn't allow another completion.
"The thing that counts is I came back, competed, didn't give up," McClellion said. "Everybody lifted me up. The coaches lifted me up. You've got to keep on fighting. It's a fight out there. We kept fighting, and then we won."

Big-play Bryan
Young fullback Bryan Johnson made his first career offensive touches big ones. The Boise State product had no receptions or carries this season after spending most of last year on the practice squad, but against the Panthers he caught two passes for 47 yards.
The second was crucial, coming on the second play of overtime and advancing Washington from its own 16 to the 48. Coaches had seen the strongside linebacker biting on short routes during the game, so they ran a play-action pass with Johnson sneaking to the outside and up the sideline.
Johnson said he has been getting more practice time because veteran Donnell Bennett has been hampered by a toe injury.
"Coaches thought I could make some things happen with my speed," Johnson said.
Quarterback Tony Banks confirmed that sentiment, saying, "Brian shows everybody his explosiveness all the time, on special teams and on the practice field. [The overtime pass] was a play we specifically put in to take advantage of the matchup of him on a linebacker. He won it."

Star DEs returning?
The early indications are good that star defensive ends Bruce Smith and Marco Coleman will play next weekend against the New York Giants. Smith (shoulder) said last week that he was on target to return for that game, and Marty Schottenheimer said last night that he is "very, very optimistic" that Coleman will play.
There had been a slight chance that Coleman would play against the Panthers, but Schottenheimer said it really wasn't a difficult decision to hold Coleman out, considering how costly a re-injury would have been.

Still loving it
Darrell Green has started 269 NFL games, just 41 fewer than the total of the 10 teammates who joined him in Washington's defensive huddle at the start of the game. But the 19-year veteran and future Hall of Famer was far from jaded about making his first start of the season yesterday in place of injured rookie cornerback Fred Smoot.
Green was the most demonstrative player during the pregame introductions and he continued to fly around the field during the game, leading the Redskins with seven tackles, all unassisted, and knocking away one of Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke's passes for wideout Donald Hayes . Three of the 5-foot-9, 187-pound Green's tackles were big ones. He held Carolina halfback Tshimanga Biakabutuka to a 1-yard gain on third-and-3 in the first quarter, two series before dumping Steve Smith for an 8-yard loss on a reverse. And Green brought down Biakabutuka three yards behind the line in the third quarter.
"I don't know what it was, but I was really excited," said Green, a starter for 17 years before becoming a backup to the now-retired Deion Sanders last year and to Smoot this season. "I was beyond my norm. When you get here and you get home cooking, you still remember all the great memories, the fans, RFK Stadium, FedEx Field. It's still the same."

Walls fumes
Carolina veteran tight end Wesley Walls, who scored the Panthers' first touchdown, was highly displeased with his team's performance.
"The way things went down today is embarrassing. I'm more embarrassed today last week [a 27-25 loss to New Orleans] was heartbreaking," Walls said. "I don't know what more emotions we can go through this young season, but already we've been through quite a few. I'm sick of it just like anyone else. You have to be accountable. We had some balls batted down, we had some balls dropped. We continue to make mistakes. We had penalties. We had the same mistakes we've had since Day One. We're like a high-school football team out there. In fact, my high school football team, we didn't even do that [stuff]."

Showing new looks
Tackle Todd Steussie said the Redskins presented some unexpected defensive looks, including walking a defensive lineman to different areas on the line of scrimmage, that forced Carolina to make some adjustments.
"It wasn't anything we hadn't seen before with other teams, it's just we hadn't seen it with them," Steussie said. "It required small adjustments. They did some new stuff."

Familiar faces
A pair of Panthers defensive tackles used to have local connections. Former Redskin Sean Gilbert, remembered for his season-long contract holdout in 1997, had three tackles, including the only sack of Tony Banks. Former Maryland Terrapin Kris Jenkins, a second-round draft choice in the spring, also had three tackles.

Biakabutuka injured
Carolina coach George Seifert said Tshimanga Biakabutuka fractured his right foot midway through the fourth quarter and will have surgery immediately.
"I'd say its pretty serious," Seifert said without providing details on exactly how much time Biakabutuka would miss. Right guard Kevin Donnalley will have an MRI today to determine the severity of his right knee injury. Linebacker Hannibal Navies suffered a broken arm, and rookie receiver Steve Smith suffered an MCL strain.

Mann inducted
Former defensive end Charles Mann and announcer Phil Hochberg were inducted into the Redskins Ring of Fame. Mann played in four Pro Bowls and two Super Bowl championships in 11 seasons. Hochberg announced Redskins games for 36 years before retiring this season.
"Even though I'm gone my name is still up there," Mann said. "I wanted to leave a legacy. I made my mark in the Washington area."

Cornerback Fred Smoot, center Mark Fischer, offensive tackle Ross Tucker, defensive ends Marco Coleman and Bruce Smith, tight end Stephen Alexander and receiver Darnerien McCants were inactive.

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