- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2005

The transformation of the Washington Redskins’ offense from last season through last week had been nothing short of remarkable. A unit that rarely broke the 20-point barrier finally had found its stride and scored 35 or more points twice in the last four weeks.

So when they watched their beloved team take the field yesterday against the Oakland Raiders, the sellout crowd of 90,129 at FedEx Field had every reason to believe they were about to witness another offensive eruption.

Three hours later, those same fans trudged through the gates with a glazed look in their eyes. Were these the Redskins of 2005 or 2004 bumbling their way through a 16-13 loss?

“I believe we’re a good offense,” quarterback Mark Brunell said. “Today was a bad day for us.”

The kind of day Washington had not seen in some time.

Yes, there was the 36-0 whitewashing against the New York Giants three weeks ago, but that atrocity came at the Meadowlands in a game that was out of hand by halftime.

This one was far more disturbing. Playing in their home stadium, where they had been undefeated this season, the Redskins managed all of 94 second-half yards against an Oakland defense that had been giving up 335 yards a game.

The NFL’s 10th-ranked offense produced two John Hall field goals and nothing else. Washington’s lone touchdown came on Lemar Marshall’s first-quarter interception.

The offense accounted for three more turnovers — two fumbles by Clinton Portis and one by Brunell — the unit’s 19th, 20th and 21st giveaways in 10 games and a source of growing frustration.

“We’ve been addressing it each week, but it seems to be happening over and over,” tackle Chris Samuels said. “Some kind of way, we’ve got to get it fixed, even if we’ve got to pray for it, because it’s killing us.”

Portis, who had not lost a fumble all year, picked a couple of inopportune moments to lose his grip yesterday. His first fumble came late in the first quarter, with the Redskins backed up at their own 11-yard line, and the Raiders immediately turned it into a field goal. His second killed a potential scoring drive that could have put Washington ahead by six or even 10 points in the third quarter.

“If we could find a way to keep from turning the ball over, it would sure help our cause,” coach Joe Gibbs said.

It also would have helped had Brunell not reverted to the form that cost him his starting job in 2004. The veteran quarterback completed just 14 of 32 passes for 155 yards, his worst passing numbers in anything other than the Giants game.

With No. 1 receiver Santana Moss double-teamed nearly all afternoon and David Patten and James Thrash both sidelined by injuries, Brunell was left to throw dump-off passes to H-back Chris Cooley or low-percentage bombs to unproven Taylor Jacobs.

“They did not want Santana down the field. That was obvious,” Brunell said of the Raiders’ defensive philosophy. “If that’s the case, on those plays we have to find a way to get the ball to other guys.”

Perhaps the biggest indictment of the Redskins’ offense was the way it completely shut down in the fourth quarter of a tie game. Twice given the ball with a chance to produce a game-winning drive, Washington went three-and-out and handed the ball right back to the Raiders.

A third and final try was stopped when Oakland’s Derrick Burgess sacked Brunell on fourth down near midfield.

“You go through the week preparing for a team, and to come in and lay an egg on offense, you’re not going to win games,” guard Randy Thomas said. “We can’t just rely on the defense to come through for us. We’ve got to be the aggressors and be able to put points on the board.”

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