- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 20, 2002

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey must right the beleaguered Washington Redskins quickly today or it's going to be a long game and an even longer season.
The Redskins (2-3) visit the Green Bay Packers (5-1) at Lambeau Field in one of the season's crossroad games. Either the Redskins upset the ailing NFC North front-runners and reach .500 after a trying early schedule or they lose their fourth in five games and begin wondering if even a wild card playoff spot is possible.
"It has to be played with the sense of urgency as if your head was under water and you have to wonder where your next breath is coming from," defensive line coach Ricky Hunley said. "Just give me three seconds for the next play. A lot of guys' minds are coming together that if I play hard, everything else will come together. I just have to do my job."
Not that Ramsey was the sole reason for last week's 43-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Ramsey threw three of four interceptions before his first completion, leading to a 20-0 deficit, and could have suffered seven picks if not for drops and penalties. But Ramsey also endured a merciless pass rush. The Saints' seven sacks were the most against a Redskins quarterback since 1985.
But Ramsey's standout relief debut in the 31-14 victory over Tennessee on Oct.6 has the pass-oriented offense clearly relying more on him than running back Stephen Davis. And that's why Ramsey's dropback is the key to downfield success.
Coach Steve Spurrier has urged Ramsey to step up in the pocket to avoid charging defensive linemen, something the rookie said he didn't consider against the Saints. With left guard David Loverne returning from injury and right guard Wilbert Brown probably making his second career start for injured Brenden Stai, the Packers are expected to pressure Ramsey straight ahead and hope for turnovers.
"Patrick can't worry about where he's going. He has to worry about his plays and where he throws it," Spurrier said. "Hopefully, he don't get hung up back there and don't start scrambling around in the midst of all those defensive linemen."
Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre said Ramsey has to be patient, noting that most rookies suffer more setbacks than success.
"It's hard to digest, but in time everything will slow down and come easier," Favre said. "The unfortunate thing is you have to suffer a lot of bad times. That's the only way you learn."
Ramsey must hide behind a leaky offensive line while he searches the field for a revamped receiving corps that had top target Rod Gardner taken out of the starting lineup. But Ramsey's play last week was only part of the Redskins' problems. The special teams can't spot opponents two touchdowns, and the secondary can't permit downfield lobs and third-and-long conversions as both units did against the Saints.
"Too many mistakes from the first quarter to the fourth," cornerback Fred Smoot said. "Offense, defense, special teams made mistakes."
The Redskins didn't make any defensive or special teams moves during the week despite Spurrier's pledge to shake up things following the Saints loss. Mostly, the Redskins worked the coverage units extensively during midweek after they allowed a punt and kick return for touchdowns.
"We don't ever want that to happen again," said special teams captain Eddie Mason. "If we stay disciplined and aggressive and don't make mental mistakes, it's the key to moving forward. There's no pressure on us. There's more pressure on the Packers because nobody's giving us a chance. We're a lot better than what we've shown so far."
Favre threw for three touchdowns as the Packers thrashed Washington 37-0 last year at Green Bay in the lowest point of a 0-5 start. Despite being down just 10-0 at the half, the Redskins couldn't recover. The Packers are an NFL-best 47-3 at home since 1995, with the Cheeseheads giving their team a decided advantage at one of the NFL's historic venues.
"There's something about Lambeau Field," Redskins defensive tackle Daryl Gardener said. "You can be beating them at the half and they come out of the tunnel and I don't know if [late Packers coach] Vince Lombardi comes out of there talking to them, but they come out crunked and ready to play. I hope somebody comes into our locker room and tell us, 'You can beat the cheese' and we can do it."

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