- The Washington Times - Monday, October 29, 2001

The Redskins' lead was down to six points, they were looking at a third-and-19 at their 24 with less than seven minutes left, and it just didn't seem possible there were any tricks left in their bag. They had been getting by on smoke and mirrors all afternoon, fooling the mighty Giants defense with this gadget play and that unlikely call and all kinds of other high jinks, but they had to be out of surprises, didn't they?
Well, actually, no. They had one left the biggest one of the bunch. Tony Banks dropped back to pass and, lo and behold, there was Michael Westbrook running past Jason Sehorn along the right sideline. Michael Westbrook, who had caught one ball all day. Michael Westbrook, who had been all but written out of the offense in the last month as Rod Gardner began to assert himself.
Banks sent the ball spinning into the night, Westbrook hauled it in for a 76-yard touchdown and, wonder of wonders, the Redskins had their second victory after five straight losses, a 35-21 verdict over the defending NFC champs at FedEx Field. Smelling salts, anyone?
I mean, let's face it, it's not as if Joe Theismann, John Riggins, Art Monk and the Hogs have suddenly returned to uniform for the Redskins. The Washington offense scored three touchdowns yesterday with the same people it could score only three TDs with in the first six games. The difference was this: Marty Schottenheimer and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye have finally come to the conclusion that they're going to have to fool opponents if they want to put up any points, that their ultraconservative attack has to become unpredictable.
So in the win over Carolina, the Redskins sprang unheralded Bryan Johnson and rookie Rod Gardner on the Panthers. And in the upset of the Giants, the cast of heroes included Kevin Lockett, Derrius Thompson, Ki-Jana Carter, Zeron Flemister and Donnell Bennett. Not exactly the usual suspects.
But on a day when Stephen Davis didn't get going until the last four minutes and Gardner was limited to just two catches for 20 yards, somebody had to make some plays and the Redskins, amazingly, kept coming up with those somebodies. Who's going to get the call next week, Darnerien McCants? Some as-yet-unknown practice squadder? Heck, maybe Bryan Barker will throw for a touchdown out of punt formation.
The bomb to Westbrook was a total thunderbolt. "He wasn't even the primary receiver," Banks said. But Sehorn bit on a less-than-world-class fake, and Michael was about as free as a receiver can be.
Schottenheimer was so surprised by the turn of events that he had to burn the Redskins' last timeout to make sure they went for the two-point conversion (which put them up by two touchdowns). "It wasn't a score we were expecting," he said, in one of the understatements of this or any other season. "I'm embarrassed to tell you I blew it [by having to call time]. That shouldn't happen."
Lots of things shouldn't have happened yesterday. The Redskins specialized in things that shouldn't have happened. Like Lockett catching a lateral pass and then heaving the ball to a wide-open Thompson for a 31-yard TD. Where did that play come from?
The answer is pretty funny if you've got a warped sense of humor. Lockett first established his passing prowess, you see, in the Senior Bowl after his final season at Kansas State, when he threw for a big gain on a play much like yesterday's. He can't even remember if he played for the North team or the South, but he does remember this: "Norv Turner was the coach."
Schottenheimer's Kansas City club wound up drafting Lockett, but Marty never unveiled Kevin's formidable right arm until the third quarter yesterday. The timing couldn't have been better. The score boosted the Redskins' lead from three to 10, 24-14, and gave them all the points they would need.
We can only hope this doesn't spur a quarterback controversy Banks or Lockett? "I've been tellin' Tony I'm better than him the whole time," Lockett cracked. "After this, I'm anxious to see the passer ratings." (For the record, his rating is now 158.3 the maximum allowable.)
During the week, as the Redskins worked on the play, Schottenheimer told Thompson, "You're going to get your first NFL touchdown [against the Giants]." Sure enough, the kid did.
"I'll believe everything he tells me now," Thompson said.
For old-school Marty, who has struggled to earn his players' trust from the get-go, those words will be music to his ears.


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