Friday, September 5, 2003

No story was more hyped this offseason than the Washington Redskins’ signing of four former New York Jets standouts as free agents. The most prominent of the quartet, receiver Laveranues Coles, declined interviews this week, preferring to let his actions speak for themselves.

They did, at least for the first half, but the more impressive performance came from John Hall’s foot.

The former Jets kicker booted the game-winning field goal from 33 yards out with five seconds left to give the Redskins a 16-13 victory at FedEx Field. He also had a 50-yarder and a 22-yarder.

Meanwhile, Coles torched his former teammates for 106 yards on five catches in the first half alone last night. He was shutout in the second half.

Coles was brilliant in the first half. After ex-Jet Chad Morton returned the opening kickoff 23 yards, Coles kept Washington’s first drive alive with a 25-yard catch across the middle of the New York zone on second-and-17 and added a 1-yard grab on the next play.

The Redskins didn’t run behind former Jets right guard Randy Thomas on that drive, nor was he responsible for the two sacks the line allowed on the series, which Hall ended with a 50-yard field goal that put the Redskins ahead 3-0 with 8:56 to go in the first quarter. Hall is Washington’s 11th kicker over the last six years.

After New York went ahead 7-3, Morton’s second return went for just 20 yards, but Coles beat ex-teammate Donnie Abraham for 10 yards two plays later to jump-start the drive.

Morton was dragged down on his first Washington carry by linebacker Sam Cowart after just a yard. The Redskins completed that drive with a touchdown without any further help from Coles, but on the second play of Washington’s next series, the dynamic Florida State product raced past Abraham and hauled in Ramsey’s pass for 48 yards, a longer gain than all but two Redskins completions in 2002.

Two plays later, nickel back Tyrone Carter gave Coles way too much room, and the result was a 22-yard completion that set up Hall’s 22-yard field goal.

Neither Morton (four kickoff returns for 88 yards and one punt return for 10) nor Thomas was much of a factor as the game continued.

Jacobs works out

Redskins wide receiver Taylor Jacobs did some light jogging and caught a few balls before last night’s game — not a bad workout considering that he had spent five days in the hospital during the past week.

Jacobs’ status for next week’s game at Atlanta remains uncertain, but he was feeling considerably better after suffering a bruised pancreas in the Aug. 28 preseason finale at Jacksonville.

“I’m all right,” Jacobs said before his team faced the New York Jets at FedEx Field. “I’m coming back, slowly but surely.”

Jacobs is scheduled to undergo another CAT scan this weekend that will help to determine his status for the Atlanta game. If all goes well, club officials said he could return to practice as soon as Wednesday.

The strange injury occurred when Jacobs landed on a defender’s foot while trying to make a catch. Jacobs was hit right below his breastbone.

Team officials believed he only had the wind knocked out of him, but the bruise caused the enzymes produced by Jacobs’ pancreas to leak into his bloodstream. The result was “a lot of pain.”

“When I got on the bus, I knew something wasn’t right,” Jacobs said. “I told the doctor he had to check me out right then.”

Doctors told Jacobs he was lucky he didn’t eat anything after being injured, which would have led to more enzyme production and possibly surgery.

“If I would have ate a meal, then it would have been kind of bad,” Jacobs said. “But I didn’t eat after the game. I felt fine, but I just preferred not to eat.”

Up the gut

The departure of 2002 team MVP Daryl Gardener as a free agent, the release of five-year regular Dan Wilkinson and the season-ending knee injury to free agent signee Brandon Noble left the Redskins with a whole new cast at defensive tackle.

Jermaine Haley, who came aboard as a free agent from Miami, and Bernard Holsey, signed on the eve of training camp, got the starts last night ahead of Martin Chase and Lional Dalton, who were added only last month. Haley switched from the No. 92 he wore during preseason to No. 99, which was made available when defensive tackle Del Cowsette was cut Saturday.

Jets running back Curtis Martin, who averaged 1,300 yards during his first five seasons in New York, gained just 2 yards on his first run up the gut of the Washington defense, but Redskins safety Ifeanyi Ohalete was penalized 15 yards for a late hit. Martin picked up 3 yards on each of his next three runs up the middle before bouncing outside for 7 to put the Jets inside the Washington 10.

Martin’s subsequent 4-yard run made it first-and-goal on the 2. Former Maryland standout LaMont Jordan was stopped cold on second down and managed just 1 yard to set up fourth-and-goal at the 1 before leaping over Dalton, Chase and Haley for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:59 left in the opening quarter.

The tackles and the rest of the defense were stout on the next two series and defense limited the Jets to just 57 yards on 22 carries.

Rod to the rescue?

The Redskins’ decision to go into the season with only two active quarterbacks set up an interesting dilemma heading into last night’s game. What exactly would Steve Spurrier do if both Patrick Ramsey and Rob Johnson got hurt?

On Tuesday, Spurrier offered a hint of what might happen when he had wide receiver Rod Gardner, running back Chad Morton and safety Matt Bowen each take a couple of snaps under center.

Gardner, a former Florida all-state quarterback at Jacksonville’s Raines High School, was nearly frothing at the mouth when he was presented with the opportunity to hook up with Laveranues Coles.

“When they put me up under that center, it’ll be ‘Showtime,’ ” Gardner said. “Me and L.C., we’ve got a little combination. We line up and he lets me know what he wants to run, and I’m going to get it to him. That’s all that matters.”

The Bruce watch

Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith entered the game needing just 3½ sacks to surpass the retired Reggie White’s NFL record of 198, but he had a quiet night until he recorded half a sack early in the fourth quarter.

New look

In what is believed to be a franchise first, the Redskins wore white pants to go with their now traditional home white jerseys last night.

Four of a kind

Patrick Ramsey was the fourth quarterback in the past four years to start Washington’s opener, following Shane Matthews (2002), Jeff George (2001) and Brad Johnson (2000). Matthews is now with Cincinnati. Johnson is with Tampa Bay. George is out of football. Ramsey got off to a fantastic start, completing 12 of his first 13 passes for 156 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown to wideout Darnerien McCants.

Ramsey’s fortunes turned after halftime. He completed one of his first four throws in the second half with New York’s Donnie Abraham stepping in front of receiver Rod Gardner to pick off one and set up Doug Brien’s 30-yard field goal which drew the Jets within 13-10 with 7:35 remaining in the third quarter. He finished 17 of 23 for 185 yards and one interception.

Despite struggling in the second half, Ramsey did set up the game-winning field goal with a 24-yard scramble.

Don’t like weekdays

Washington entered the game 1-5 on weekdays during the Dan Snyder era. The Redskins’ only such victory came Monday, Nov. 20, 2000, in St. Louis. Washington is 26-33 overall in weekday games, with its most notable loss coming in the final minute to Dallas and unknown quarterback Clint Longley 24-23 on Thanksgiving Day 1974.

For starters

The Redskins are now 3-2 in openers during the Snyder era and dead even, 32-32-3, in openers in their first 67 seasons in Washington.

The few, the proud

It’s well known that cornerback Champ Bailey and offensive tackle Jon Jansen are the only players remaining from Washington’s last playoff team in 1999. However, the Redskins also have just 13 other players left from Marty Schottenheimer’s 2001 team. Those survivors are defensive end Bruce Smith, punter Bryan Barker, safeties Ifeanyi Ohalete and David Terrell, receiver Rod Gardner, tight end Zeron Flemister, linebackers LaVar Arrington, Kevin Mitchell and Antonio Pierce, snapper Ethan Albright, fullback Bryan Johnson, offensive tackle Chris Samuels and cornerback Fred Smoot. Terrell was inactive last night.


Linebackers Jessie Armstead and LaVar Arrington, offensive tackles Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels, fullback Bryan Johnson and defensive end Renaldo Wynn served as Washington’s captains last night.

Redskins tickets No. 2

The Redskins, for the second consecutive year, rank second in average ticket costs in the NFL, according to industry newsletter Team Marketing Report out of Chicago.

The Redskins’ average ticket cost is $68.09, unchanged from last season and more than $7 behind the New England Patriots with an average cost of $75.33. The league average is $52.95 a ticket, 6 percent higher than a year ago and the highest among the four major U.S. team sports.

The Redskins announced in January they would not raise ticket prices for the 2003 season, days after The Washington Times first reported the team was subjecting long-term club seat holders to either an immediate 38 percent price increase or a 113 percent hike in 2007. The move prompted widespread criticism, but the team still maintains one of the largest season ticket waiting lists in the NFL.

Team Marketing Report’s rankings do not include club-seat costs. The publication did include that seat category in its ticket cost analysis for several years but removed them last year at the request of several teams including Washington.

Snyder ranks high

Redskins owner Dan Snyder finished ninth in Fortune magazine’s annual list of the richest Americans under 40. Snyder, 38, holds an estimated net worth of $740 million, 11 percent higher than a year ago. Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers, led the list at $17.1 billion.

Extra points

Along with receiver Taylor Jacobs, running back Sultan McCullough, safety David Terrell, linebackers Lemar Marshall and Orantes Grant, offensive linemen Wilbert Brown and Brandon Winey and defensive end Ladairis Jackson were on the inactive list before last night’s game. Terrell was the most notable on the list, considering that he was the starting free safety as recently as four weeks ago. …

Randy Thomas went against standard pregame etiquette when he ventured into the visitors’ locker room about three hours before kickoff. The former Jets guard said he just wanted to say hello to some of his old trainers. …

Among those in the press box before the game was Spike Lee. The renowned filmmaker and fan of all things New York was decked out in a green, throwback Joe Namath Jets jersey.

Jody Foldesy, Mark Zuckerman and David Elfin

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