- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2003

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Laveranues Coles caught five passes for 125 yards. He scored a touchdown on a tricky, foot-dragging reception at the back of the end zone. His biggest play, however, was a tackle that turned the tide in favor of the Washington Redskins.

The Redskins trailed by 11 points early in the second quarter when Seattle Seahawks safety Damien Robinson stepped in front of Coles and intercepted a pass from Patrick Ramsey at the Washington 28.

Robinson raced downfield toward what appeared to be a sure touchdown, a score that would have blown the game open for the Seahawks. Enter Coles, who ran down his former New York Jets teammate and knocked the ball loose at the 2.

Redskins guard Randy Thomas fell on the ball in the end zone for a touchback. Eleven plays and 80 yards later, Coles made a nifty 15-yard catch in the back of the end zone that started the Redskins toward a 27-20 victory over the Seahawks and snapped a four-game losing streak.

“There were a lot of big plays in this game, but the biggest may have been when Laveranues stripped [Robinson],” Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. “[Otherwise] we’re down 21-3 and look like we’re in dire straits and going nowhere. We had some sighs of relief that we were still in the ballgame.

“That was a huge play, no question about it.”

Coles’ play was a product of quick feet — and quick thinking.

“For a second I thought I was open, but then I saw the ball and he stepped in front of me,” Coles said. “I tried to tackle him right away, but he got away from me. I caught up to him before he got to the end zone and I made a good stab at the ball because I knew if I tackled him, he would fall in the end zone because of his momentum. Luckily for me, the ball came out.”

Ramsey called the play a “huge break” that the offense had to capitalize on, which they did.

“We had a chance to go ahead 21-3, and we missed that opportunity,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. “They came back down and scored, so instead of 21-3 it’s 14-10, and now the complexion changes a little bit.”

By halftime, the score was tied 17-17 and Washington never trailed again.

Bruce one closer

Defensive end Bruce Smith moved one sack closer to Reggie White’s NFL career record. He took advantage of LaVar Arrington’s pick and brought down Matt Hasselbeck on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Smith, whose last sack came Oct.5 in Philadelphia, needs a half-sack to tie White’s mark of 198. Smith had a few chances to get the record yesterday, but Hasselbeck slipped away.

“Yeah, I had a shot on two other occasions,” Smith said. “But when you don’t get sacks and you’re able to put pressure on the quarterback, he throws an incomplete pass or runs around and scrambles or things of that nature. That counts, too.”

Smith was at the center of controversy last week after being benched in favor of Regan Upshaw. Smith accused coach Steve Spurrier of singling him out for the team’s struggles, then said, “At some point in time in your career, you have to take a stand and be a little selfish.”

Yesterday, Smith was the first over to celebrate when Upshaw recorded a sack, his first as a Redskin. In the locker room afterward, the two could be seen talking about their pass-rush moves.

“This is not personal,” Smith said. “I think the world of Regan, and Regan respects me a great deal. This is all about winning. I am not a selfish player. The only time I am selfish is when it comes down to winning.”

Upshaw started ahead of Smith for a second straight game, but both got plenty of snaps. Smith said coaches planned for him to start — until he went to defensive coordinator George Edwards and told him to start Upshaw because of a thumb sprain that kept Smith out of practice Wednesday and Thursday.

“I was very concerned with how I would be able to play out there today,” Smith said. “I looked [Edwards] in the eye and said, ‘You need to start Regan this game.’ I told him it wasn’t fair to my teammates or the coaching staff [for me to start]. … Hopefully next week we can get back to the original plan.”

Bowen suffers concussion

Matt Bowen has a reputation for delivering knockout blows to opposing players. Yesterday, the Redskins safety got a taste of his own medicine.

Bowen suffered a concussion when he tackled Seahawks fullback Mack Strong near the goal line late in the first quarter. He did not return to the game. All signs indicated the injury was not serious and Bowen is not in danger of missing significant playing time.

The injury occurred with the Seahawks driving for their second touchdown of the first quarter. On third-and-10 at the Washington 14, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw a screen pass to Strong, who broke a couple of tackles and nearly found the end zone.

Bowen, however, got to Strong and dropped him at the 1. The hit left the safety a little woozy, and though he managed to walk off the field, he remained on the sideline the rest of the day, wearing a Redskins jacket and ski cap.

Bowen did not undergo any X-rays, and he was not taken to the hospital. He wanted to drive home on his own, but at the behest of Washington’s medical staff, he accepted a ride from rookie quarterback Gibran Hamdan.

Seldom-used safety Andre Lott took over for Bowen and recorded two tackles in his three-plus quarters of action.

“It was good to see Andre in there,” Spurrier said. “I think Andre played pretty well.”

The Redskins reported no other significant injuries in the game.

Smoot seals the deal

The Redskins rallied from an 11-point deficit to a 27-20 win, but their victory wasn’t assured until cornerback Fred Smoot picked off a Matt Hasselbeck pass in the final minute.

On second-and-15 at the Washington 35 with 44 seconds remaining, Hasselbeck threw a perfect pass that bounced off the hands of Seahawks receiver Darrell Jackson along the sideline. The ball caromed to Smoot, who managed to get both feet in bounds before stepping out at the Washington 23.

“We were all telling each other [in the defensive huddle], ‘Somebody has got to make a play,’” Smoot said. “I was very close to [Jackson], and once I saw him miss the pass, I went to see if I could get my hand on it and then keep my feet in bounds.”

Smoot accomplished both missions despite playing for a second straight week with a badly bruised sternum that he suffered Oct.12 against Tampa Bay and kept him out of the next week’s game at Buffalo.

“My chest feels about the same as last week, but once the adrenaline gets going, I don’t feel any pain,” Smoot said.

Friedman fills in

Lennie Friedman’s first start of the season went extraordinarily well.

The veteran offensive lineman, who has been praised for his work ethic all season but had seen minimal action to date, started in place of injured center Larry Moore and had rave reviews.

“Lennie did a terrific job,” tackle Jon Jansen said. “He came in, and we didn’t miss a beat. He did a great job coming in, calling plays and really getting us in the right spot all the time.”

Friedman, a former starting lineman with the Denver Broncos, continues to uphold that unit’s policy of not speaking to the media. His actions on the field made up for his lack of words off it.

Friedman probably won’t be headed back to the bench this week. Moore, who suffered a sprained foot Nov.2 at Dallas, said he was told it could take a couple of weeks for him to heal. He is, however, still hoping to play Sunday at Carolina.

Penalty drop

The Redskins committed a season-low four penalties and dropped just below pace to break the NFL record of 158 in a season. Washington now has 85 penalties in nine games, on pace for 151.

The flags included a pair of personal fouls on kickoff coverage — by David Terrell (low block) and Ade Jimoh (shoving out of bounds) — but did not involve any of the false starts that have plagued the offense.

“They played smarter,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “They didn’t have near the number of careless penalties that we’ve had most of the year. That certainly gave us a good chance.”

Inactives

The Redskins’ inactives were mostly injured players: return man Chad Morton (ankle), running backs Sultan McCullough (hand) and Ladell Betts (forearm), center Larry Moore (foot), defensive tackle Jermaine Haley (thumb/shoulder) and cornerback Rashad Bauman (ankle). Tight end Byron Chamberlain again was a healthy scratch. Wide receiver Cliff Russell was designated the third quarterback.

David Elfin, Jody Foldesy, Mark Zuckerman


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