- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2004

PHILADELPHIA — Several players were too upset to talk. Some who did decided to vent their frustration through passionate tirades. One chose instead to slam his locker so loud, it caused the entire room to jump.

The Washington Redskins have often been frustrated by their mounting losses all season. This time, they were downright furious.

What made yesterday’s 28-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles any worse than the Redskins’ six other losses this year? Perhaps it was the fact that despite an inspired effort to keep the game close for three quarters, Washington was flat-out manhandled down the stretch by the first-place Eagles, who turned a once-competitive game into an embarrassing rout by day’s end.

“Do you all think the Eagles were 22 points better than us today?” a seething Fred Smoot said. “Maybe the best of the Eagles didn’t show up, maybe they overlooked us. They weren’t 22 points better today.”

Smoot, a fourth-year veteran who is on the verge of his fourth straight losing season with the Redskins, echoed his teammates’ exasperation over this latest campaign gone awry.

“I’ve been going through it too damn long, too long,” he said. “I don’t know how long I have to go through it.”

As much as Washington (3-7) would have liked to depart Lincoln Financial Field with heads held high, there were few positive vibes coming out of a 22-point loss to Philadelphia (9-1), which is well on its way to another NFC East title.

Despite the insertion of Patrick Ramsey at quarterback, the Redskins’ woebegone offense was held to its lowest scoring output of the year and now ranks dead last in the NFL with 131 total points.

Despite containing Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens for most of the afternoon, Washington’s second-ranked defense wilted late and matched its season-high for points allowed.

And despite playing relatively crisp football throughout a first half that ended with Philadelphia up only one point, the Redskins wound up killing themselves with costly mistakes.

“We’ve had a lot of tough things happen to our team this year,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “The thing that I’ve been proudest of is the fact that our guys are fighting hard each and every week. This is the first time that we’ve had a lopsided score. Our guys were fighting hard, but we couldn’t make the plays at the key times in the game, and we couldn’t get points when we had to.”

Never was that more apparent than during a 12-minute stretch between the third and fourth quarters when the Eagles turned a 7-6 nail-biter into a 28-6 rout.

It began with an unnecessary roughness penalty on safety Sean Taylor, who hit Owens over the head with his forearm well away from the play. The personal foul put the Eagles on the Washington 15, and three plays later, McNabb found Owens crossing the back of the end zone for one of his four touchdown passes.

Still trailing only 14-6, the Redskins immediately marched down the field and got themselves in a first-and-goal situation at the 10. A false start on right tackle Ray Brown, a holding penalty on left tackle Chris Samuels, an incomplete pass, a dropped pass, a false start on Samuels and another dropped pass later, Washington was facing fourth-and-goal at the 30.

Even then, the Redskins couldn’t put points on the board — Ola Kimrin’s 48-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.

“We can’t continue hurting our team,” Samuels said of the offensive line’s penalties. “That’s kind of been the story of our team this season. I just have to do a better job of concentrating. It was loud in the stadium, but that’s no excuse.”

Like any first-place team would, the Eagles seized on the Redskins’ miscues. McNabb (18-for-26, 222 yards) immediately marched his team 62 yards on nine plays, capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass to former DeMatha star Brian Westbrook, to make it 21-6.

McNabb was aided by a pass interference call that had Smoot and the Redskins livid.

“Are they just taking the damn day off when the burgundy and gold gets out there?” said Smoot, who tripped over receiver Freddie Mitchell on the play in question. “It’s got to stop somewhere. It’s been going on for a year. Let us play football. Let the players judge the game, that’s all I’m saying.”

Compounding the Redskins’ frustration might have been the Eagles’ decision to go for another touchdown after they took over at the Washington 32 with 7:44 to play. Coach Andy Reid called for two straight passing plays, and both resulted in completions — the latter a 14-yard touchdown to Westbrook.

The unsightly final moments of the game overshadowed what actually was an impressive performance from the Redskins for much of the afternoon.

Ramsey (21-for-34, 162 yards) didn’t do much to win the game, but he ran a far more efficient offense than his predecessor, the now-benched Mark Brunell. Hindered by the lack of a consistent running game — Clinton Portis was held to a season-low 37 yards — Ramsey completed his first five pass attempts and led Washington to field goals on two of its first four possessions.

The 25-year-old quarterback, while generally encouraged by his first start of the season, still couldn’t look past the ugly stretch that killed his team’s chances of a major upset.

“We had a golden opportunity to put ourselves in the game and really kind of change the way they were approaching things offensively and defensively,” Ramsey said. “When they came back and got that score [to make it 21-6], it really hurt us.”

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