- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2002

Stephen Davis didn't gloat. He barely managed a smile. But after he carried 31 times for 88 yards and scored all three of his team's touchdowns in Washington's 20-17 upset of St. Louis yesterday, Davis did allow himself the satisfaction of fulfilling his son's wish.
"When I called home this morning, my son [Stephen] asked me to get a touchdown for him," said Davis, who hadn't reached the end zone in his last three games. "I scored three. He's happy. So I'm happy."
Davis was also happy to be handed the ball so often after getting it 19 times in last Sunday's 19-17 loss to the New York Giants. After that game, an extremely frustrated Davis had snapped, "What we do best? Run the ball. We've got to do more of it."
Davis got his wish yesterday, although he said all the politically correct "whatever works" stuff afterward. Davis had 15 carries by halftime and passed his total of last week on the first drive of the third quarter, which ended with his 3-yard touchdown run off right tackle. The Redskins had the ball for more than 28 of the first 46 minutes because Danny Wuerffel kept handing off to the two-time Pro Bowl halfback. And that time of possession factor was crucial against a Rams' offense that can score in a hurry.
"We knew we had to run and try to stay on the field and make some first downs," said Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, who called 39 runs and 24 passes after a 90-37 pass-run ratio in the preceding losses at Jacksonville and New York. "We didn't gain a whole lot, but we were able to run it into the end zone and that's the important thing."
Spurrier's decisions to run on second-and-goal at the 1 and second-and-goal at the 3 were routine, but the coach showed faith in Davis by calling his number on 4th-and-1 at the 5 with Washington leading 14-10 and 6:59 to play in the third quarter. Davis made the first down then followed fullback Bryan Johnson's block on safety Chad Cota and powered into the end zone for what proved to be the winning touchdown.
"I was motivated," Davis said. "Coach gave me a chance and I made the best of it."
Warner returns
Other than a three-and-out series last Monday, Kurt Warner hadn't taken a snap for the Rams since suffering a broken right pinkie in the first quarter of the 13-10 loss to Dallas on Sept.29 that dropped the defending NFC champions to 0-4.
In his return, the two-time NFL Most Valuable Player delivered an uneven performance no matter what his numbers (34-of-49, 301 yards, two touchdowns and an interception) said.
"Coming back for his first game, I thought Kurt did very well," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "He hung in there and made some terrific throws under pressure."
Warner completed his first 15 passes for 128 yards against Washington's zone defense but produced only seven points. Warner faltered at first when the Redskins switched to a man-to-man scheme, hitting four of 13 passes for 42 yards. But he caught fire in the fourth quarter, completing nine of 10 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown on the drive that cut Washington's lead to 20-17. Warner hit five of his first six throws on the Rams' final possession to push the ball to the Redskins' 44. But he managed one completion the rest of the way and then fumbled at the 6 with 11 seconds left when he was sacked by linebacker LaVar Arrington.
"I felt really good," Warner said. "I was throwing the ball well and I felt that I gave our team the opportunity to win. Unfortunately we came up short in the end."
Marc Bulger, who led the Rams to a 5-0 record in Warner's absence, was on the inactive list after badly bruising his right index finger Monday against the Bears.
Kicking follies
Through 93/4 games, the Redskins' kicking game was efficient. But kicker James Tuthill slipped on a late field goal try that could have beaten the New York Giants last week and that misstep was compounded by yesterday's comedy of errors.
First, Tuthill nailed the left upright (as he had done on Oct.20 at Green Bay) on his 40-yard attempt at 3:24 of the first quarter. After Stephen Davis scored to raise Washington's lead to 20-10 with 6:59 to go in the third quarter, holder Bryan Barker dropped the snap and Tuthill never had a chance to get off the extra point. Finally 1:12 into the fourth quarter, Tuthill hooked a 34-yarder wide left, the first of his 15 attempts that he hadn't made, except for the ones that slammed off goalposts or were blocked.
"We just had a bad day," Tuthill said. "The one that went off the post, I hit it well. On the other one, I hit it exactly the way I wanted to hit it. I got it high and then the wind got it and it started to fade to the left. When the Rams were driving at the end of the game, I felt terrible, but the defense bailed me out."
Barker said the botched hold was the first of his 13-year career.
"It was a good snap and I just didn't catch it," Barker said. "I suppose it was bound to happen some time. When it happened, I thought, 'You've got to be kidding me.' I don't know how many snaps I've caught and I had never dropped one."
Sulfsted at left guard
Although he hadn't practiced at left guard until this past week when he was moved ahead of usual starter David Loverne, Alex Sulfsted said he was less nervous about starting at that spot yesterday than he had been making his first NFL start on Oct.27 against Indianapolis at left tackle in relief of the injured Chris Samuels.
"I'm sure there are some things I could have done better, but I'm real happy," Sulfsted said. "I was real excited to be out there again."
Confident for Dallas
The Redskins already were looking ahead to Thursday's game at Dallas and some players weren't afraid to talk a little smack about the hated Cowboys, who have won the last nine games in the series.
"Meet me Thursday, and we'll make another episode out of it," cornerback Fred Smoot said.
Asked if he meant Thursday's game would be different, he replied, "It's going to be different."
Said defensive tackle Daryl Gardener: "I don't like the Dallas Cowboys at all. Zero. I'm coming with the business. I'm ready to go right now, start another game. I just need to get some fluids in me."
Even coach Steve Spurrier had an interesting exchange regarding the Cowboys. It started when Spurrier asked if Dallas won its game yesterday.
Told they beat the Jaguars, the coach replied: "Anybody can beat anybody, as we know."
LaVar for POY?
After linebacker LaVar Arrington made the game-saving sack, defensive end Bruce Smith rekindled talk of Arrington winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
"He made an outstanding play," Smith said. "That was an All-Pro, All-world, whatever you want to call it, play."
Bailey/Smoot on sides
Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis went back to the cornerback plan he used until Nov.17 against the New York Giants, playing Champ Bailey and Fred Smoot on set sides of the field.
A week earlier, Lewis played Bailey on Giants standout Amani Toomer. It was a tactic frequently used by 2001 coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer.
But yesterday the Redskins did a good job limiting (a relative term with regard to the speedy Rams) the effectiveness of receivers Isaac Bruce (seven catches, 89 yards) and Torry Holt (five, 75). Neither had a touchdown.
"We already knew they didn't have [running back] Marshall [Faulk], so [Bruce and Holt] were going to be a big part of the game," Smoot said after recording three break-ups. "We knew if we could slow them down, we'd have a good chance to win."
Champ return a KO
Cornerback Champ Bailey finally delivered his game-breaking potential as a punt returner with a 39-yarder in the third quarter that set up the Redskins' go-ahead touchdown.
Bailey cut across the right side after initially faking to his left, shuffled past two defenders before being tackled by Rams punter Mitch Berger at the St. Louis 42. Washington then used receiver Rod Gardner's 15-yard reception and six runs by Stephen Davis, capped by a 3-yard touchdown burst, for a 14-10 lead with 10:09 remaining in the third quarter.
"It just takes a little bit of room to show you what I can do," Bailey said. "If I had gotten to the sideline I would [have scored]."
Bailey has wanted to return punts since playing for Georgia, but past coaches were reluctant to take the risk.
Extra points
Donielle Babb, of Franklin, Va., drew the biggest cheers during the Redskins Punt, Pass and Kick halftime competition with a deep pass that won the 14-15-year-old boys division. Christopher Istvan (8-9 boys) of Waldorf, Jamila Thomas (8-9 girls) of Staunton, Va., Emily Peters (10-11 girls) of Lynchburg, Va., Benjamin Hazel (10-11 boys) of Bowie, Hanna Phillips (12-13 girls) of Broadway, Va., Clarence Reese (12-13 boys) of Hyattsville and Carrie Schneider (14-15 girls) of Derwood, Md. also took division titles.
Running back Ladell Betts, receiver Justin Skaggs, guards Kipp Vickers and Brendan Stai, defensive ends Greg Scott and Bernard Jackson and tight end Leonard Stephens were inactive.
David Elfin, Rick Snider and Jody Foldesy

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