- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 2004

The Philadelphia Eagles are the measuring stick this year for the rest of the NFC. The Washington Redskins have ascended in their four weeks with Patrick Ramsey at quarterback, but not to the level of the conference’s best team.

Ramsey threw an interception in the end zone in the waning minutes last night, allowing the Eagles to hold on for a 17-14 victory before 90,089 raucous fans in Landover.

The loss dropped the Redskins to 4-9 and ensured them of a fifth straight season without a winning record — and Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs just the second in his 13 years in Washington.

Still, the Redskins showed significant progress just by staying with the 12-1 Eagles the whole way. Three weeks earlier, Washington surrendered two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 28-6 loss in Philadelphia.

The Redskins gained a first down at the Philadelphia 27 with 1:54 remaining, needing only a field goal to tie. Ramsey had moved the ball downfield by cooly completing passes of 32 and 9 yards to rookie tight end Chris Cooley and his 12th of the night to receiver Laveranues Coles.

Then, Ramsey reverted to the gunslinger form of his first two years. He threw to Cooley in the end zone, only to have the ball hang in the air.

Safety Brian Dawkins intercepted for the Eagles.

“We were going to take a shot to see if we could win the game,” Gibbs said. “We were right there where we could make a play and we didn’t get it done.”

Ramsey finished 29 of 43 for 251 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.

“That was a real good defense Patrick went up against tonight and he made a bunchofplays,” Gibbs said.

Washington scored first, then allowed 17 unanswered points before closing within 17-14 with 12:04 to go on Clinton Portis’ 2-yard touchdown run that followed Cooley’s marvelous 26-yard grab in traffic. Cornerback Shawn Springs had given the Redskins the ball at their 49, intercepting a pass by Donovan McNabb that had been deflected by rookie safety Sean Taylor. Springs was carted off the field’ with a concussion at the end of the Eagles’ next series after a blindside block by fullback Josh Parry.

Gibbs, remaining true to the ultra-conservative form of his second go-round with the Redskins, elected to end Washington’s next two series by punting on 4th-and-1 from his 44 and the Eagles’ 44.

The Redskins, who committed 12 penalties for 137 yards, have lost seven straight games to the Eagles over the past four seasons.

It took the Redskins just 46 seconds to show they would be competitive with the NFC East champion Eagles. Ladell Betts caught David Akers’ short kickoff at the Washington 28, received a good block from James Thrash and scooted up the Philadelphia sideline before being knocked out of bounds at the Eagles 14. A facemask penalty on Jason Short gave Washington first-and-goal at the 7.

Portis ran for 2 yards on first down and then used left tackle Chris Samuels’ end-sealing block on Jevon Kearse to scamper untouched for the 5-yard touchdown that made it 7-0.

It didn’t take the Eagles long to even the score. McNabb hit receiver Todd Pinkston for 12 yards on third-and-10, and after an incompletion and a defensive offside penalty, Springs was called for interference on a bomb to All-Pro receiver Terrell Owens to put the ball on the Washington 2. On the next play, tight end L.J. Smith got a step on linebacker Antonio Pierce and grabbed the touchdown toss from McNabb just across the goal line.

A Tom Tupa punt pinned the Eagles on their own 4. McNabb threw for first downs to running backs Brian Westbrook and Dorsey Levens before the drive fizzled at the 35.

On the second play of the Eagles’ next possession, Pinkston got behind safety Ryan Clark and would’ve scored if he hadn’t been stumbling. As it was, the 80-yard completion which put the ball on the Washington 4, was the longest of McNabb’s career and easily the longest play allowed by the Redskins this year. However, Pierce stripped Owens on first down and recovered the fumble along the Eagles sideline before hurling the ball into the stands in celebration.

A lightning-quick burst up the middle by Portis and Coles’ ability to withstand a jarring tackle by Michael Lewis after a 14-yard catch got the Redskins out of the shadow of their end zone. However, receiver Rod Gardner curled back to catch Ramsey’s throw on third-and-9 and came up a yard short of the first down. So did the Eagles on their next series thanks to a super stop of Westbrook by linebacker Marcus Washington on third-and-17.

The Eagles needed just three plays to drive from their 43 to the Washington 23, but reserve end Ron Warner and backup linebacker Chris Clemons sacked McNabb one down apart and Akers came up short on a 48-yard field goal try, ending his run of 15 straight successful kicks.

Ramsey was 6-for-7 on Washington’s subsequent possession, but penalties on Derrick Dockery, Darnerien McCants and Gardner pushed the Redskins back 20 yards and John Hall’s 43-yard field goal attempt with 19 seconds left in the second quarter went wide right as the teams headed to the locker rooms still deadlocked 7-7.

On the first series of the third quarter, the elusive McNabb deftly drew the defense to him with the threat of a scramble and found Westbrook wide-open for the 26-yard connection to spur the drive that ended with Akers’ 38-yard field goal that put the Eagles on top 10-7.

Washington began its second series of the half on its 5. Ramsey completed two passes to Coles and another to Thrash for first downs, but on third-and-2 at the Philadelphia 46, the wide-open Coles waved his arms in frustration as Ramsey’s throw sailed over his head.

That incompletion came back to bite the Redskins when McNabb led the Eagles 68 yards in seven plays with Westbrook’s 20-yard dash and a 25-yard slant to reserve receiver Greg Lewis setting up Levens’ 1-yard touchdown run that extended the visitors’ margin to 17-7 with 25 seconds remaining in the quarter.

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