- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2003

It was an absolutely ludicrous play — and yet so classic Steve Spurrier. Really, do you need to call a flea-flicker in August?

When you’ve struggled to put anything substantive together in your two previous preseason games, the answer is yes.

Patrick Ramsey’s gimmick 39-yard touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles last night might not have been necessary, but if it managed to light a much-needed fire under the Washington Redskins’ bellies, it served its purpose.

“We needed a score there,” Ramsey said of the signature play in the Redskins’ 24-3 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. “I wanted to come out of the game with some type of score, with a significant number of points. That was a big play, and I think it got everybody excited.”

Displaying a crispness on offense and intensity on defense that was sorely lacking during losses to Carolina and New England the last two weeks, Washington put forth its best performance of the preseason when it needed it most. No one would dare call the Redskins lackluster now, not after this thoroughly dominating win before a boisterous crowd of 70,460 at FedEx Field.

Though they were hesitant all week to give this game any undue significance, privately the Redskins knew they needed an inspired showing against Baltimore. They gave one, producing scoring drives on three of their first four offensive series to take a 17-0 lead while keeping Ravens quarterbacks Kyle Boller and Chris Redman rattled throughout the game.

“For one time, I can come in here and say I was proud of the effort,” Spurrier said. “We matched up with the Ravens. We didn’t get pushed around. We sort of looked them in the eye and played a tough, physical game.”

Washington got a 3-yard touchdown run from Trung Canidate and a 30-yard field goal from John Hall in the game’s first 16 minutes, but it was the second-quarter flea-flicker to Coles that really got the Redskins going.

Facing a first-and-10 at the Baltimore 39 after a roughing-the-passer penalty on Joe Salave’a, Spurrier called his first gadget play of the preseason, one Washington had practiced several times during the week.

Ramsey handed off to back Chad Morton, who took two steps, turned and flipped the ball back to the quarterback. The Ravens’ defense wasn’t fooled as Coles had three defenders streaking downfield with him. But the Redskins’ prize free agent acquisition outran all three, including Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis, and caught the ball in his gut as he fell into the end zone.

“I thought [Lewis] had an opportunity to tip it,” said Coles, who finished with three catches for 65 yards. “But he misjudged the ball. It went over their heads, and it landed in my lap.”

It was precisely the kind of razzle-dazzle play fans have come to expect from Spurrier — just not in the preseason.

“We needed a big play,” tackle Jon Jansen said. “It’s not necessarily that big of a trick play — you see that one kind of often. It wasn’t that we were going out there to trick anybody. It was a play-action pass, and it just seemed to work for us.”

Spurrier’s play-calling was far more conservative the rest of the night, perhaps too much so on the game’s first drive. The Redskins went three-and-out but caught a huge break when Baltimore’s Lamont Brightful muffed Bryan Barker’s 44-yard punt. Patrick Johnson, who had a strong game on offense and special teams, recovered the ball at the Ravens 27, and Washington’s offense had another chance.

Despite a nice 6-yard reception by tight end Robert Royal on third-and-5, the drive fizzled at the 12. Hall came on to boot a 30-yard field goal, and the Redskins had an early 3-0 lead.

Washington again went three-and-out on its next offensive series, but after a brief break while the Ravens were stumbling their way through another ineffective series, Ramsey and Co. were back on the field.

This time the offense put together its most complete drive of the month: 10 plays for 75 yards over a span of 5:19. Ramsey hit Coles streaking across the middle of the field for a 15-yard gain with another 15 yards tacked on for Lewis’ late hit. Canidate picked up 6 key yards on a third-and-3 draw play.

On the first play of the second quarter, Canidate ran untouched off right tackle for a 3-yard score that made it 10-0.

The Redskins’ defense, much maligned for its suspect play against the run the last two weeks, looked far more cohesive against Baltimore. Washington limited the Ravens to 103 total yards in the first half and only 35 yards on the ground the entire game.

Ramsey, who went 8-for-13 for 100 yards and a stellar 111.1 passer rating, departed midway through the second quarter with his bruised right hand still in one piece. Backup Rob Johnson entered, and though he didn’t do much to move the second-team offense (3-for-10, 55 yards), he did engineer a seven-play, 63-yard drive early in the fourth quarter. Rookie running back Sultan McCullough capped it off with a 15-yard scamper that made it 24-3.

The Redskins have only four days to savor this victory. Following the first round of cuts Tuesday, they head for Jacksonville on Thursday for their preseason finale.

“We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “It was just a step in the right direction. We’ve still got a long way to go.”



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