- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn.
It didn't take Patrick Ramsey long to show he might have a future in pro football. Eight plays after he took over for injured Danny Wuerffel yesterday, he dropped back to pass, got some pressure and, wonder of wonders, didn't take off and run.
Plenty of rookie quarterbacks would have, of course. Heck, that's how the skittish Wuerffel had gotten himself hurt. But Ramsey simply moved up in the pocket, kept looking downfield and finally whipped the ball to Kevin Lockett for what would have been a first down had Lockett not dropped it.
The play may not have seemed very significant at the time, but it said a lot about the kid who's now the Redskins' starting QB. Especially since, a short time later, Ramsey stood his ground, got unloaded on by a Tennessee pass rusher and still managed to fire a 23-yard completion to Bryan Johnson.
We all knew Ramsey had the arm to be an NFL quarterback. That much was evident in training camp. But in yesterday's 31-14 victory over the Titans, we saw he has the poise to be an NFL quarterback, the toughness to be an NFL quarterback, the leadership ability to be an NFL quarterback things that are even more important.
"I didn't know that he could step up in there with guys flying around him and make throws the way he did," Steve Spurrier said. "None of us did. We knew he could look good in practice, but "
Practice isn't the same as a game just as the preseason isn't the same as the regular season. Some quarterbacks look like Canton material in August, but then the pace quickens in September and they start looking more like Arena League material. Clearly, though, Ramsey isn't one of them, not if he can come off the bench in his first NFL game and hit 20 of 34 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. Not if, in his pro debut, he can rally the Redskins to a much-needed win.
"I'm not a guy who gets very nervous," he said. "I get excited, but I don't get very nervous. Call it poise, call it comfort, whatever."
Back in training camp, Ramsey wasn't very comfortable at all. He missed the first 16 days while his contract was getting sorted out and was "kinda lost," as Spurrier put it. The recent bye week, however, gave him more time to learn, and he obviously took advantage of it. Watching him against the Titans, you would have thought he'd been running the Fun 'n' Gun for years.
The real eye opener was the 90-yard drive he took the Redskins on in the second quarter. Actually, it was more than a 90-yard drive; with penalties, it was a 100-yard drive. Tennessee kept blitzing him, as it did most of the afternoon, and he kept dodging blue jerseys and finding open receivers Chris Doering for seven yards on third-and-6, Johnson for 23, Doering again for 15 on third-and-10, Rod Gardner for 21, Kevin Lockett for 11 and finally Gardner for 20 and a touchdown.
That wasn't just the turning point of the game, it might have been the turning point of the Redskins' season. Not only did it give Ramsey confidence, it gave his teammates confidence in him. "Once he got that behind him," Gardner said, "I knew he could do it."
The Redskins' next three series (not counting the clock-killing at the end of the first half) ended the same way. They went 74 yards for a TD, then 72, then 71. And Ramsey made all the plays, none more impressive than the 12-yard bullet he fired to Gardner on third-and-8 at the Washington 46. Why does that one stand out? Because he knew he was going to get clobbered by defensive end Carlos Hall who drew a roughing-the-passer penalty for his exertions but he didn't blink. Eight plays later, Stephen Davis scored from the 1, and the Redskins had the lead for good.
That Davis was even on the field at that point was nigh miraculous. He'd exited with a sprained knee not long after Ramsey entered in the first quarter, and running backs with sprained knees are usually done for the day. With No.48 out and Wuerffel already sidelined with a strained shoulder, the Redskins appeared in dire straits, indeed.
But Ramsey held things together, and then Davis surprised everybody by returning in the second half. "After [the trainers] iced it," he said, "they taped it up real good and put a brace on it." Thus fortified, he rushed for 59 more yards to finish with 90 and caught a touchdown pass from Lockett on a trick play for the last score.
It's important not to get too carried away with Ramsey's performance. Tennessee had given up 52 points the week before and played a lot of man-for-man coverage yesterday, which simplified the rookie's reads. He'll face much more challenging competition against New Orleans and Green Bay the next two weeks.
But you get the feeling he might be more than just the next Gus Frerotte (whose career, you may recall, had a similarly scintillating start). He even aced his post-game interview, praising his teammates profusely the same players who'd taped him to a goal post in Carlisle and thanking Shane Matthews and Wuerffel for their continuing support.
"Danny and I would go play golf," he said, "and he'd be quizzing me on protections."
Maybe the best thing about yesterday's game is that, as Spurrier told the media, "[You] don't have to write about who's going to play quarterback for a while. He's our guy." Now we'll see how quickly Ramsey can become the quarterback the Redskins need him to be.


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