- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2002

Insanity continued in the NFL yesterday. The Washington Redskins have looked like a bad peewee team over the past two weeks. So how the heck do they go out and beat and deservedly so the surging St. Louis Rams, 20-17?
The Redskins allowed Rams quarterback Kurt Warner to complete his first 15 passes. They blew an extra point and bounced a field-goal attempt off the upright. Yet, the hottest team in football left FedEx Field as losers.
This is why Redskins fans ought to wear helmets during games: to protect themselves from the forehead-smacking disbelief of this season. The Redskins are good enough to win on any given Sunday, and yet they aren't even a .500 team.
The Redskins probably still will struggle to an 8-8 finish, and a playoff berth remains a long shot. But at least they'll enter the offseason with the satisfaction of, in essence, eliminating the defending NFC champions from the playoffs chase.


Q: Hold on a minute. Can't the Redskins still win out and make the playoffs? Who says they can't beat bad teams like the Cowboys and Giants in the next few weeks?
A: They can win those games, but they usually don't. It's going to take 10 wins to reach the postseason as a wild-card team, and the Redskins have no history of late-season sweeps over the past decade.

Q: But what about winning the NFC East? The Eagles are vulnerable without quarterback Donovan McNabb, and the Giants lost to the expansion Texans yesterday. Can't the Redskins win the division?
A: Theoretically, yes. An 8-8 team could take the title. The NFC Least is awful. Just don't count on the Eagles totally collapsing.

Q: Was Ball Coach already talking about beating the Cowboys on Thursday? You gotta like that.
A: Spurrier knows that Redskins fans will forgive a lackluster season if he can nail the Cowboys, who have won nine straight over Washington. George Allen never won a Super Bowl, but he's second only to Joe Gibbs among Redskins fans because he made beating the Cowboys a priority.
Spurrier mentioned the Cowboys in the postgame news conference, which is unusual because coaches usually like to savor victories for a few minutes before moving on to the next game.

Q: Danny Wuerffel outplayed Kurt Warner. What's next, Dan Wilkinson outrunning Carl Lewis?
A: Give Wuerffel his props: He made no mistakes, produced several big plays and had the smarts to let running back Stephen Davis be the hero. Warner's stats were a little better, but Wuerffel got the win. Now let's see him do it again.

Q: How bad is cornerback Darrell Green's bruised hip? Will he return this season?
A: There's a chance Green could return to make a token appearance. But the injury was bad enough for Green to admit that it hurt something awful, which means he might be getting an early retirement. The Redskins need to work in rookie cornerback Rashad Bauman anyway.

Q: What took Champ Bailey so long to make an impact as a punt returner? His 39-yarder was one of the biggest plays of the game.
A: Been saying for three years that Bailey could be the next Deion Sanders at cornerback and punt returner if he was given a chance. Bailey has looked great in practice since 2000, but he still needs game reps to improve. Watch out next year.
Q: How did running back Stephen Davis get 31 carries? That's more work than he got in two straight weeks combined earlier this season.
A: Spurrier has learned how it works in the NFL: Pass for show but run for dough. He was just too hardheaded to admit it until he fell to 4-6. Spurrier didn't dominate at Florida for 12 years by being thickheaded for long, so it's not surprising to finally see Davis carry the offense. The question is whether Spurrier stays with the run in the upcoming games.

Q: What happened on the failed extra point? It looked like holder Bryan Barker simply missed the ball.
A: You are correct, sir. Barker kept his job after punting badly earlier this season because the Redskins didn't want to hinder kicker James Tuthill with a new holder. Now Tuthill is in a slump, and Barker whiffs a hold. It seems special teams can do nothing right.

Q: Why is Tuthill hitting the goalpost so often? That's three doinks this season.
A: Maybe Tuthill's an alchemist trying to turn iron into gold. Brett Conway went through the same thing once. The weird part is that Tuthill almost cleared the top of the left upright. There's no talk inside the organization of signing another kicker, though.

Q: What was Spurrier thinking when he didn't call a timeout until there were six seconds left in the first half and after running two rushing plays?
A: The crowd really gave Spurrier a raspberry for that gaffe. The Redskins gained possession with 44 seconds left and did nothing until it was too late. Then they called a short-yardage play that did nothing. It was poor clock management.

Q: Was the players-only meeting on Thursday the big difference against the Rams? Did they just need to talk out their problems?
A: If talking was the key, owner Dan Snyder would have hired Oprah as coach. The meeting didn't hurt, but it really didn't help, either.

Q: Can we order lots of pumpkin pie and not worry that Cowboys quarterback Chad Hutchinson will ruin our appetite, a la Clint Longley?
A: The Redskins are 0-5 on Thanksgiving in Big D, so they're used to being the turkeys. Watch the parades and eat hearty at lunchtime.


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