- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2003

Looks like the 55th annual Emmy Awards got started a little bit early last night. Redskins-Giants, episode one, made for great television, better drama than you’ll catch on “CSI” any Thursday night.

Too bad it was just as gruesome as an hour with those Las Vegas forensics experts. The Redskins bumbled their way through a painful first half and really didn’t look like a threat to win until late in the fourth quarter. It was a statement game for the national pundits and Washington’s statement was, “Check back in late October…”

And how ‘bout those penalties? Washington tied a franchise-high number of flags, with the refs reaching for hankies as if they were screening the “Bridges of Madison County.” By game’s end, Redskins fans were indeed shedding a tear, and the Monday Morning Quarterback could only chortle for them getting their hopes so high.

Q: What happened? We were ready to dump brewskies on our heads and run around with our shorts off. Who pulled the plug on our party?

A: What, Pepco still hasn’t gotten your power back on? We told you not to eat those warm cold cuts. Seriously, the town was ready to go wild with a Redskins win. You could feel the excitement building. Instead, the Redskins got whipped yesterday in a pitiful first half. They lost this game before a bunch of desperation plays gave them a chance to win.

Q: The rally had to mean something, though. Do the Redskins still have a shot at the playoffs?

A: Yup, and they’ve still got a shot at sub-.500, too. Keep in mind: Coach Steve Spurrier is just 1-6 in NFC East games. For all that Washington seemed to prove in a 2-0 start, that stretch could go down as a pair of wins over a couple of injury-plagued pretenders. The club needs to find out whether it’s the Dr. Jekyll of the past two second halves or the Mr. Hyde of the first halves.

Q: So which Redskins will show up next week against New England?

A: The bet here is for a reasonably confident group. Anytime little mistakes spell a team’s doom, the players are going to assume that everything’s fixable. But Washington is entering a very dangerous stretch right now, and attitudes can change very quickly when you’re losing. The Patriots, Eagles, Bucs and Bills are looking mighty difficult.

Q: Even Norv didn’t have this many penalties. What’s up with this team?

A: It did seem like a quick-whistle night from the refs. Maybe they were worried about tempers boiling over. Still, most of the calls were legit. It was inexcusable for the Redskins to commit so many errors, especially after a dozen penalties at Atlanta made keeping clean a focus all week. And there was no excuse yesterday after crowd noise was offered up as the key factor in mistakes a week earlier.

Q: The Giants looked like they were playing not to lose in the second half. Are they any good?

A: They’ve got talent, but they’re playing scared. That definitely contributed to the Redskins’ rally. New York is a team that doesn’t know how to win, thanks to last season’s playoff loss at San Francisco and last week’s Monday night loss to Dallas. Even after a very solid drive downfield in overtime, those uprights looked like they were four feet wide. We’re surprised Jim Fassel didn’t fry a circuit and call a squib kick on second down.

Q: Why such a dramatic difference in Patrick Ramsey from the first half to the second?

A: It wasn’t just Ramsey — the entire team got things going, once again, after digging itself a big hole. Laveranues Coles rebounded mightily. The defense gave up three long touchdown drives in the first half and then a grand total of 68 yards in the second half. Maybe Spurrier’s serving Red Bull as the halftime refreshments. As far as Ramsey’s concerned, it’s probably just growing pains. It’s too much to expect him to be a consistently great quarterback at this point in his career.

Q: Fans looked like they were streaming for the exits in the fourth quarter. Was everybody getting a jump on traffic?

A: We can’t blame them for wanting to leave early. Things looked pretty grim there. The amazing thing was how the stadium was rocking for the final minutes of regulation and overtime. The lower bowl, after seeing that exodus, was filled though. Some of the unkempt masses must have scooted downstairs — if they did, they made one heck of a ruckus.

Q: Did Champ get treatment for those first-degree burns Amani Toomer served up? What happened to him on that touchdown?

A: That’s no way to earn a big signing bonus. Bailey slipped a bit on the turf, and Toomer just turned on his jets — a classic example of a No.1 receiver taking advantage of the slightest slip-up by a No.1 cornerback. That’s the tough thing about playing for a contract like Champ is doing — any play could be the example that undercuts your argument for a market-setting deal.

Q: Guess he’ll have to blame the turf. Were there any effects from last weekend’s Springsteen concert and Hurricane Isabel?

A: It didn’t look that way. The grounds crew appeared to do a fantastic job after a very trying week. If it had been the old turf at Giants Stadium, the game never would have gone to overtime. John Hall would have slipped in a trash can-sized divot at the end of regulation.

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