- The Washington Times - Monday, September 23, 2002

Washington Redskins star linebacker LaVar Arrington continues to struggle in the scheme of new coordinator Marvin Lewis and it appears that the two are starting to clash.
Arrington missed a tackle in the backfield yesterday on San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens, and Owens turned the botched end-around into a 38-yard touchdown that proved to be the winning points in a 20-10 victory.
"He made a great play," Arrington said. "I got a good hit on him, and he bounced off. Great players make great plays."
Arrington finished with five tackles and a sack after playing significantly better in the second half, but he clearly was frustrated on the sideline after letting Owens slip from his grasp.
So far Arrington has not met the expectations that followed his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and it's becoming a hot topic whether Lewis is using the young star properly particularly on third downs, when Arrington gets in a three-point stance and plays as a defensive end.
Lewis thinks Arrington is suited to his new responsibilities and is talented enough to adapt to them but Arrington showed signs of bristling last night at Lewis' tough-love approach.
Asked to comment on something Lewis said about the defense in general, Arrington cut off a reporter and said, "I'm not going to answer questions if you guys come at me with what coaches said. What his opinion is, that's the opinion he gave you guys."
Of the role on third downs, Arrington said: "Sometimes it bothers me, but I'm a player and I'm trying to figure it out."
And asked if his adaptation is coming along slowly, he replied: "That's what it looks like, huh?"
Rest of the defense
Defensive tackle Rod Gardener was somewhat encouraged that the defense played better than in Monday's 37-7 drubbing by Philadelphia.
"We played hard, but there are still some things to work on," Gardener said. "We had some miscommunication. I'm glad this is happening now instead of later in the season. If we had done what we're supposed to do, we would have won. This bye comes at a perfect time. We can lick our wounds and think about what we did wrong. This should burn everybody's pride. We can play the rest of the season like we played today and get our behinds kicked up and down or we can pull together, and that's what we're going to do."
Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis discounted San Francisco's 94 yards on 14 carries at halftime (not even counting receiver Terrell Owens' improvised 38-yard touchdown run) and said Washington's run defense wasn't a problem until late in the game.
Defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said much of the 49ers' success on the ground came against Washington's nickel package, which features more defensive backs.
"It wasn't like we were being blown off the ball," Wilkinson said. "It's more guys not being where they're supposed to be. You can't play an aggressive style of defense and not be aggressive."
Lewis said his players aren't playing fundamental football.
"You can't beat anybody in the NFL if you don't tackle," Lewis said.
Problematic punt coverage
Washington's punt coverage, ranked 26th in the NFL entering the weekend, gave up good field position in two instances yesterday that led to points.
The first was the key one, when Jimmy Williams burst for 25 yards getting tackled only because Kenny Watson managed to get off the ground at the last second and set San Francisco up at the Redskins' 38. The next play was Terrell Owens' big touchdown run.
Then in the third quarter, Williams ran back a punt 12 yards to midfield. The 49ers, with backup Tim Rattay at quarterback, drove 33 yards on the short field (mostly on a 20-yard run by Garrison Hearst) for a field goal that put them by 10 points.
The coverage improved on Washington's final two punts. First Rashad Bauman stopped Williams for no gain at the San Francisco 14 on the fourth quarter's first play, then David Terrell made a nice tip and Washington downed the ball at the 3.
"Overall it was a pretty solid day for the punt coverage unit," linebacker Eddie Mason said. "They're going to get their yards from time to time. The thing we have to do is try to limit it."
Not-so-critical delay
Washington took a delay-of-game penalty on the final play of the third quarter when it tried to pull San Francisco offsides, coach Steve Spurrier explained.
It appeared as though the Redskins actually might try to go for the fourth-and-2 from the 49ers' 47, especially after Spurrier went for a fourth-and-10 late in the first half against Philadelphia from the Eagles' 40 last Monday night. Washington was trailing 20-10 yesterday and 20-7 in the Eagles game, and needed an offensive spark in both instances.
But Spurrier said yesterday, "We were trying to draw them off. There was plenty of time left at that point."
Fumble bumble
First the 49ers had the ball. After a lengthy conference between officials, the Redskins were given possession. Then, after a replay challenge, the 49ers were awarded possession.
All the confusion stemmed from Jacquez Green's muffed punt in the third quarter. Green had called for a fair catch at about his 30, but San Francisco's Terry Jackson interfered with Green catching the ball. The ball bounced once, hit Green, and was recovered by the 49ers' Jimmy Williams.
Officials conferred and ruled that Jackson was blocked into Green's path and so there was no penalty, and it was Washington's ball. The 49ers quickly challenged, realizing just about everyone in the stadium saw the ball hit Green except, apparently, the officials. The confusion was resolved when the 49ers challenged the ruling.
Two plays later, Champ Bailey intercepted Jeff Garcia's pass in the end zone.
Samuels shakes his head
Normally impregnable left tackle Chris Samuels had a long afternoon against speedy defensive end Andre Carter. San Francisco's first-round pick in the 2001 draft, Carter beat Samuels for two sacks. Samuels was also caught holding linebacker Julian Peterson.
"[Carter] was the better guy today," Samuels said. "He's a different type passrusher than I've been facing. I've been facing power guys and this guy brought a lot of speed and finesse to the game. I was frustrated. A lot of things were going bad for me out there. I just held on and tried to finish the game strong."
Toughing it out
Defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson didn't practice last week after spraining his right wrist against Philadelphia, but he played yesterday in a three-man rotation with Daryl Gardener back from missing the Eagles' game with an ailing back and Carl Powell.
"I couldn't really tackle anybody so I was just trying to clog up the run and create enough havoc so the linebackers could run free," Wilkinson said.
"I'm paid to play." Gardener said. "My back has to be put on hold."
Getting reacquainted
Yesterday's game was the first against their old team for ex-Redskins Dana Stubblefield and Derek Smith since they signed with the 49ers as free agents in 2001.
Defensive tackle Stubblefield, the 1997 NFL Defensive Player of the Year for San Francisco but a three-season bust in Washington before being released, has done well back in his old spot next to Bryant Young on the 49ers' defensive line. Stubblefield told the San Francisco Chronicle that he always felt like a 49er even when he was a Redskin. He looked like his old Redskins self yesterday as he managed just one tackle and couldn't sack Shane Matthews when he had him dead to rights
The usually mild-mannered Smith blasted the Redskins this week, saying he particularly disliked Washington player personnel director Vinny Cerrato. Smith led the 49ers with 126 tackles last season and with seven yesterday, including five solos. Stubblefield and Smith were two of San Francisco's captains.
The Redskins officially reported no injuries, but apparently defensive end Bruce Smith had his thumb X-rayed after the game.
Tight end Walter Rasby (knee), linebacker Antonio Pierce (ankle), guards Kipp Vickers (knee) and Ross Tucker, defensive ends Otis Levrette and Greg Scott, receiver Chris Doering and third quarterback Patrick Ramsey were Washington's inactive players. Doering was scratched in favor of fellow wideout Darnerien McCants and Tucker was replaced by rookie halfback Ladell Betts. Tucker was supposed to share playing time with David Loverne at left guard this year, but after not getting on the field in the opener, the coaches felt he didn't fare well while playing most of the second half on Monday against Philadelphia.
Still streaking
The 49ers have scored in an incredible 389 consecutive games. The second-longest streak in NFL history was 248 in a row by Dallas from 1970 to '85. With the 49ers off this week, if they score on Oct. 6 against archrival St. Louis and at Seattle on Oct. 14, they will have extended their streak to 25 years. San Francisco was last shut out on Oct. 9, 1977 by Atlanta. Nineteen of the current 53 San Francisco players had yet to be born.
Left their hearts
The Redskins don't visit San Francisco very often and they almost always leave with a loss. Yesterday's defeat was Washington's seventh in nine games in 49ers Stadium (formerly known as 3Com and Candlestick Park), the 49ers' home of 31 years. The Redskins were 0-3-1 in its predecessor, Kezar Stadium, for an overall 2-10-1 record in the city by the bay. Washington clinched the NFC East title here with a 26-20 victory on Dec. 26, 1999. Its 20-13 divisional playoff defeat here on Jan. 9, 1993 was the final game in coach Joe Gibbs' Hall of Fame career.
Jody Foldesy, Duff Durkin, David Elfin

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