- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2005

The Washington Redskins will report for work today without a winning record for the first time this season, and a look at a few snapshots from yesterday will show them why:

Middle linebacker Lemar Marshall tried to cover a fleet-footed receiver down the middle of the field and was beat for a long touchdown. Special teams standout Mike Sellers re-entered the game injured to get revenge for an illegal hit, costing his team 10 yards of field position.

Quarterback Mark Brunell had his worst game and looked like a 35-year-old passer for the first time. Running back Clinton Portis lost two fumbles after giving away none in the first nine games. The defense continued to show signs of being average, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Put those together and it’s not hard to picture how the Redskins lost to the Oakland Raiders 16-13 at FedEx Field, a defeat that prompted end Phillip Daniels to declare it’s “not time to panic.”

If it is not yet the moment for panic, it’s certainly time to be gravely concerned: A Redskins team that once was 3-0 and 4-2 now has a record of 5-5 after another last-minute loss. The Redskins trail the NFC East’s leaders, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, by two games and have the eighth-best record in the conference.

“We shouldn’t have lost the game, but we lost it,” linebacker LaVar Arrington said. “Taking nothing away from the Raiders, but this team has to cross over from being close to winning games to understanding that we can win and then win the game.”

To illustrate Arrington’s point, the Redskins were good enough to lead the Raiders 13-3 at halftime on Marshall’s 17-yard interception return for a touchdown and John Hall’s field goals from 24 and 45 yards. Those were not enough, however, to put away an Oakland team that came into the game with a 3-6 record.

The Redskins’ offense failed to score a touchdown — its five second-half drives ended with three punts and two fumbles — and the defense allowed Porter a 49-yard touchdown catch to start the second half and later scoring drives of 87 and 50 yards.

Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 19-yard field goal with 68 seconds remaining to provide the winning margin and hand the Redskins their first defeat at home this season. The Redskins reached Oakland’s 43-yard line before an incomplete pass and fumble ended their hopes of forcing overtime.

“I’ve been in this league for nine years, and I can’t figure out why we can’t close people out,” cornerback Shawn Springs said. “I’m baffled.”

On the winning drive, the Raiders had first-and-goal at the 1, but running back LaMont Jordan was stuffed. He appeared to fumble while trying to stretch the ball across the goal line, but officials ruled he was down by contact, meaning the Redskins couldn’t challenge the call.

“The referees got it right,” said Jordan, a former Maryland Terrapins standout. “I was already down.”

Said Redskins defensive end Renaldo Wynn: “He was squirming, trying to get the ball across, and it came out.”

Three plays later, Janikowski kicked his third field goal of the game to put the Raiders ahead for the first time and for good, making former Redskins and current Raiders coach Norv Turner’s return to FedEx Field a winning one.

“The beginning of the year, we were playing well, and we won these games,” safety Ryan Clark said. “But now we’ve lost two of them. We have to get back that gusto and make plays when it counts.”

The Redskins took a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into game when Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins was hit by Redskins linebacker Chris Clemons as he was trying to throw.

The deflection went right to Marshall, who returned it for the first touchdown of his career. Following a Janikowski field goal, the Redskins added two field goals, and as Marcus Washington said, “We were in the driver’s seat.”

The seat got a little hotter early in the third quarter when Porter lined up in the slot and headed downfield, trailed by Marshall. Safety help was nowhere to be found, and Collins lofted a fine pass that Porter collected in stride at the 4-yard line to make it 13-10. Last week at Tampa Bay, Marshall was late covering Joey Galloway, who made a 33-yard reception.

“You would like a jam, but I saw him coming and was trying to look at the quarterback and see if he would throw it,” Marshall said of the Porter touchdown. “I have to make that play.”

Porter caught six passes for 142 yards. The Raiders’ top receiver, Randy Moss, was held in check: He caught three passes for 40 yards.

Oakland’s tying score came on a 25-yard field goal by Janikowski with 7:56 remaining. The Raiders were forced to kick after Arrington stormed through a gap in the line to stop Jordan for a 4-yard loss on third-and-1 from the 3.

The Redskins’ offense would have been lucky to get that close to the end zone. Its closest penetration was the 6-yard line, also its only time inside the Oakland 25.

Brunell finished 14-for-32 for 155 yards, and the Raiders did a solid job taking away Santana Moss (four catches, 53 yards). The Redskins’ 246 yards were their second-worst output of the season and well below their season average of 347.8.

“You try to keep a positive attitude, which is going to be tough,” Brunell said. “We’re not pleased with where we’re at. All we can control is the next game, and that’s going to be our attitude. It has to be for us to get this thing going.”

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