- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 24, 2005

As Patrick Ramsey disgustingly called for his second timeout in seven seconds, the growing murmur around FedEx Field was all too evident.

Hadn’t the fans seen this before: a flummoxed Ramsey unable to get a play off, then throwing his hands up in frustration?

Maybe so, but it’s safe to say they hadn’t seen what happened next. Having just wasted two timeouts on consecutive plays in the third quarter, Ramsey got back under center, dropped back to pass and connected with Santana Moss on a sparkling, 72-yard touchdown that sealed the Washington Redskins’ 35-20 win over the New York Giants.

Just like that, the sellout crowd of 90,477 returned to its previous state of jubilation, and the ugly start to Ramsey’s first game in eight weeks was forgotten.

“It wasn’t encouraging, exactly,” Ramsey said. “But I think Santana’s play took care of that.”

What a stunning turn of events. No, not the Redskins’ four-game winning streak that leaves them on the precipice of the playoffs. Remarkable as that is, who could have imagined one of the key figures in it all would be Ramsey?

The fourth-year quarterback found himself thrust back into the spotlight yesterday, though, when starter Mark Brunell sprained his right knee on a third-quarter sack. With Brunell on the sideline in a knee brace, it was up to Ramsey to return to the huddle for the first time since the Oct.30 massacre at the Meadowlands and lead the Redskins to victory.

Ramsey proved up to the challenge. Even though he hadn’t taken any meaningful snaps since he was unceremoniously yanked from the season opener against the Chicago Bears, he managed to direct an efficient Washington offense and preserve his team’s lead. He wound up completing five of seven passes for 104 yards, including the 72-yard strike to Moss to push the lead to 28-17, and finished with a near-perfect 153.3 passer rating.

“Here is one of the biggest games I’ve ever been at, and Patrick Ramsey has to go in and try and win it for us,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “He’s handled this situation better than I think anybody could, and it’s a tribute to his character. He was ready. He stepped in and made some plays for us.”

Now comes the bigger question: Will Ramsey need to step up again next Sunday in Philadelphia with the Redskins’ first playoff berth since the 1999 season on the line?

There appears to be a reasonable chance. Brunell sprained his right MCL when he was sacked by New York’s Nick Greisen and was noticeably limping through the Washington locker room after the game. He declined to speak to reporters, and Gibbs said “we’ll have to wait for a couple of days and see” whether he can return for the season finale (and perhaps the playoffs).

Ramsey said he was up to the challenge when called upon yesterday and that his previous NFL experience was instrumental.

“I think it would have been much different had I not ever played out there,” he said. “But I’ve had an opportunity to play. My job is to go out there and perform. I’m happy it ended up the way it did.”

Ramsey immediately won over his offensive teammates when he stepped into the huddle.

“I knew he was loose when he came in,” running back Clinton Portis said. “He came straight into the huddle cracking jokes. I think it kind of loosened the guys up. He took the leadership role.”

There weren’t many smiling Redskins players moments later when Ramsey was forced to call timeouts on consecutive plays because of botched formations. But he won them all back with his subsequent touchdown pass to Moss, the play that clinched the Redskins’ victory.

“That is probably one of the toughest things to do in a big game like this, to come in at that point and make big plays,” tackle Jon Jansen said. “I told him a long time ago when he was down that sooner or later we were going to need him to step in and play big. And he was ready when the time came.”

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