- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2002

PHILADELPHIA Rookie Patrick Ramsey took another step toward becoming the Washington Redskins' quarterback of the future.
Coach Steve Spurrier was impressed by Ramsey's play yesterday against the NFL's fifth-ranked defense in the Redskins' 34-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Spurrier singled out Ramsey during his news conference and told associates the young passer is coming along nicely.
"Patrick Ramsey played very well for a rookie quarterback against one of the best defenses in the league," Spurrier said. "He threw a few errant balls, but he threw a lot of good ones. A lot of good ones."
Ramsey completed 23 of 35 passes for 213 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His rating was 110.8, the highest of any Redskins quarterback in a game this season and nearly 50 points better than his rating for the year (63.2) coming into yesterday's game.
Spurrier hadn't intended to play Ramsey against the Eagles, hoping to save him for Sunday's game against the expansion Houston Texans. But starter Danny Wuerffel sprained his shoulder a week ago against the New York Giants, forcing Ramsey back into the lineup.
The Redskins have shuffled quarterbacks all season. Shane Matthews opened the season at quarterback but was replaced in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans by Wuerffel. Ramsey took over after Wuerffel was hurt against the Titans and produced a victory, but his stint as the starter fizzled in October after losses to the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.
Spurrier then turned to Matthews again, then to Wuerffel again before Ramsey started yesterday after an eight-week absence.
Ramsey showed little rust against one of the league's top defenses and in fact was one of the few bright spots for the Redskins on a mistake-plagued afternoon. Only a botched exchange with running back Ladell Betts, which led to a crucial 44-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Philadelphia in the third quarter, marred Ramsey's afternoon.
"I was very comfortable," Ramsey said. "I felt very good about what we were doing. The only thing I'd love to have back is that handoff. I'm anxious to watch the film to see what happened."
What went wrong?
In the box score, it shows up as a 44-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Eagles linebacker Carlos Emmons. In reality, plenty more happened to give Philadelphia a 24-7 lead in the third quarter.
Facing second-and-10 and a ticking play clock, Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey called an audible at the line. Rookie running back Ladell Betts (in for injured starter Stephen Davis) looked confused and had to ask Ramsey for clarification.
The new play called for Ramsey to hand off to Betts on the left side, but the exchange was never made and the ball fell to the turf.
"I'm not quite sure if it was my fault or Pat's fault," Betts said. "It's probably my responsibility to make sure the ball is taken care of. So I take full responsibility for it."
The blame didn't end with Betts, though. In the scrum to recover the ball, Emmons was never touched by a Redskins player, and realizing this, the Eagles defender got to his feet and ran into the end zone for a touchdown.
No fewer than three Washington players (Betts, guard David Loverne and receiver Derrius Thompson) appeared to have a chance to touch Emmons down. None did, and the Redskins were left to contemplate a humiliating touchdown.
"If we could take that play back, we'd have a chance," tackle Chris Samuels said. "Our luck's been terrible this year, but I'm a firm believer that you create your own luck. This year we haven't done a good job of that."
Not again
Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey muffed a punt return for the third time in five games since he replaced the waived Jacquez Green. And for the second straight game, the Redskins failed to recover the fumble. Eddie Mason couldn't fall on the loose ball in last week's 27-21 loss to the New York Giants, and Darrell Green followed suit yesterday.
"I took my eyes off the ball," Bailey said. "That's such a simple thing. I've got to look the ball in before I run. That could be because I've got guys coming at me. I keep putting myself in a bad position."
Bailey managed just 10 yards on the two punts he returned, dropping his average on 18 returns to 9.9 yards.
"Those things happen," special teams coach Mike Stock said of Bailey's fumbles. "Champ's still our punt returner."
Helping hand
Rookie Lemar Marshall came close to blocking the first punt of his career with 4:25 left in the first quarter. Instead, the Reskins linebacker drew a 15-yard penalty for roughing Eagles punter Jason Baker.
"I made a move on the tackle and came free," Marshall said. "I tried to do everything that the coaches told me to do, keep my head down and my hands down and block it," Marshall said. "I thought it went off my side or my elbow, but I guess it didn't."
Marshall's near-miss came two weeks after Kevin Mitchell blocked a punt by the Dallas Cowboys' Filip Filiopovic. The Eagles didn't take direct advantage of Marshall's miscue, but Bailey's muff came four plays later. Seven plays after that, former Redskin David Akers extended Philadelphia's lead to 10-0 with a 28-yard field goal.
"It looked like Lemar could've tackled [Baker] before he got the punt off, but he was trying to block the kick and the ball squirted underneath Lemar's arm," special teams coach Mike Stock said. "It looked like it was going to be our ball deep in their territory, but they wind up getting a new series of downs."
Back in the lineup
Redskins right guard Tre Johnson made his first NFL start since last September in the stadium where he once starred for Temple. The 31-year-old Johnson, who played for the Redskins from 1994 to 2000, rejoined the team on Oct.22, seven weeks after being waived by the Cleveland Browns.
Johnson was immediately worked into a rotation with Wilbert Brown in relief of the injured Brenden Stai, but yesterday marked his return to the starting lineup.
"It was fun," said the oft-injured Johnson, a Pro Bowl pick in 1999. "I always picture myself a starter. After playing these seven or eight games, I know I can come back now. It's just a matter of when the season ends getting all my boo-boos healed and getting in shape. I'd love to have the opportunity to play next year when I'm all the way healthy."
Offensive line coach Kim Helton said he played Johnson more than planned and that he would give Brown more work Sunday against the Houston Texans. Helton wasn't sure who would start. Johnson's start marked the sixth different starting lineup used by the unit in the past 10 games.
No covering them
The Redskins did a great job of controlling the Eagles' wideouts, holding Todd Pinkston to five catches for 49 yards and blanking James Thrash. However, the Redskins couldn't stop the underneath receivers. Halfback Duce Staley, fullback Cecil Martin and tight end Chad Lewis combined for seven catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.
"That's how it's been going; we got everything covered here and something else leaks," Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey said.
Especially striking were the long gains by those underneath receivers. A.J. Feeley's toss to Martin picked up 53 yards to the Washington 27 after middle linebacker Kevin Mitchell fell down and the 235-pound Martin picked up a head of steam. The play set up Staley's 1-yard touchdown run, which made the score 17-0 just 5:45 into the second quarter. The 53-yard catch was twice as long as Martin's previous career-long reception.
Earlier, Staley got open on a short pass over the middle on second-and-10 from the Washington 38. Free safety David Terrell slipped, and Staley deked cornerback Fred Smoot to the ground before scooting into the end zone untouched for the game's first score.
Lewis beat strong safety Ifeanyi Ohalete for a season-high 30-yard grab on third-and-4 at the Philadelphia 26 with 5:42 left in the third quarter. Six plays later, third receiver Antonio Freeman got away from Ohalete and caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Feeley to push the lead to 31-7.
"We didn't make some plays when we needed to," Ohalete said.
The Redskins allowed just 15 plays of 30 or more yards in their first 12 games, but the three they gave up yesterday equaled the number they surrendered in last week's loss to the New York Giants. Feeley said the Eagles just executed their game plan.
"We came in with an idea that screens were going to work," Feeley said. "They seem to drop and get really soft [in coverage] that allows our linemen to get upfield and block [and I can] get the ball underneath to Duce or [backup halfback Dorsey] Levens and let them run with it."
Samuels' success
Left tackle Chris Samuels performed well in his featured matchup against Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas.
Douglas got into the backfield on Washington's fifth offensive play and took down running back Ladell Betts. He recorded a half-sack of Patrick Ramsey in the second quarter.
But Samuels said he pulled to block another player on the takedown of Betts. The sack of Ramsey, he said, was a product of Ramsey's scrambling. Douglas finished with just three tackles.
"I thought I did an outstanding job," Samuels said, not wanting to give Douglas any bulletin-board material for next year's two meetings.
Passing Sweetness
Eagles kick returner Brian Mitchell passed the late Walter Payton and moved into second place on the NFL's career yardage list with a 5-yard punt return with 7:55 left in the first half.
The play gave Mitchell 21,808 total yards in his career, second only to Oakland Raiders receiver Jerry Rice (22,202). Mitchell, who played for the Redskins from 1990 to 1999, started the second half with a 46-yard kickoff return and finished the day with 21,912 yards.
Farewell to the Vet sort of
Yesterday's game was the last of 32 regular-season games at the Vet. However, the Eagles will play host to at least one playoff contest next month, which is why a big deal wasn't made of the occasion. The Redskins were 16-17 at the Vet including a 20-6 playoff victory in 1990, the last game for Eagles coach Buddy Ryan.
Extra points
Washington's young receivers Rod Gardner, Derrius Thompson and Darnerien McCants combined to catch 14 passes for the second straight game. They produced 72 yards less (167 vs. 239), but they scored two touchdowns to one against the Giants and more importantly didn't fumble. Thompson and McCants each lost critical fumbles in the 27-21 loss to New York. Guards Brenden Stai and Kipp Vickers, tight end Leonard Stephens and defensive end Greg Scott were inactive. The Redskins have 52 players, one under the NFL limit, after they cut receiver Willie Jackson on Thursday. Danny Wuerffel was the third quarterback.
David Elfin, Jody Foldesy and Mark Zuckerman

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