- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the last players to leave the Washington Redskins locker room at Arrowhead Stadium yesterday, Joe Salave’a didn’t want to hear about the offense’s three turnovers, Kansas City’s 80-yard defensive touchdown or the fact Chiefs pass rusher Jared Allen was made to look like Reggie White with three forced fumbles and three sacks.

No, Salave’a was lamenting Priest Holmes’ 60-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that ended up being the difference in a 28-21 Kansas City victory.

Holmes, who caught the screen pass on the left side and used a variety of cut backs to dart across the field, was Salave’a’s assignment.

“When it’s your responsibility to cover somebody, you don’t do it and then that happens — it was being undisciplined on my part,” Salave’a said. “I just didn’t get out where I needed to be. I let my eyes deceive me. It’s mind boggling and unacceptable.”

But in Salave’a’s defense, it wasn’t the only mind-boggling and unacceptable play made by the Redskins. Their three fumbles turned into 10 Kansas City points. The Chiefs had six plays of 15 or more yards. And then there were the turnovers.

“On the road against really good teams, you can’t afford mistakes,” coach Joe Gibbs said. “We made a bunch of good plays, but it wasn’t enough.”

The Redskins had a chance to force overtime, but after driving to the Chiefs’ 33 in the final minute, four straight incompletions ended their chances and dropped them to 3-2, a half-game behind 4-2 Dallas in the NFC East and tied with the Giants and Philadelphia. The good news for the Redskins is they next play host to 1-4 San Francisco.

“We’ve dug ourselves into a little bit of a hole, but we’ll fight back,” quarterback Mark Brunell said.

“We’ll find out what kind of character we have, but I’m confident this team will clean up the mistakes.”

On a day that saw receiver Santana Moss continue to build his No. 1 receiver portfolio (a career-high 173 yards and a 78-yard touchdown), Brunell throw for 331 yards and three scores, the defense hold Holmes to 18 rushing yards and the special teams keep Dante Hall in check, the turnovers were the story.

Again.

Brunell fumbled at the 7-yard line on the Redskins opening drive, which Kansas City turned into a field goal. A second-quarter Brunell fumble happened at the Redskins 40. And running back Rock Cartwright’s third-quarter fumble was returned by Sammy Knight for an 80-yard touchdown.

Through five games, the Redskins are a combined minus-8 in turnover ratio. They haven’t forced a turnover since a pair of takeaways against Chicago in Week 1.

“One stat that wins for you is turnovers and that’s always something that seems to hold true,” defensive end Renaldo Wynn said. “And our turnover production [stinks].”

What doesn’t stink is the chemistry between Brunell and Moss.

Before Holmes’ heroics, Moss caught two touchdowns — a 4-yarder in the second quarter and a 78-yard catch-and-run on Washington’s first drive of the second half. Kansas City started the half by driving 62 yards to take a 14-7 advantage. Following a sack of Brunell, Moss caught a quick pass and — thanks to designed blocks by tight end Robert Royal and left tackle Chris Samuels — flew down the left sideline for the longest reception of his NFL career.

“We had that play early in the first quarter and [Samuels] gave me a wonderful block, but unfortunately the guy fell into me,” Moss said. “I was mad at myself because that would have been [a touchdown]. It came up again and I was a little more patient and let those guys make their blocks.”

Gibbs called it “one of the prettiest plays I’ve seen. There was a real hole there and he’s a playmaker, that’s for sure.”

After a Chiefs three-and-out, the Redskins marched into Kansas City territory, poised to take the lead. But Cartwright was stripped from behind. Knight scooped it up and returned it 80 yards with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

“Someone got me from the backside and the ball came out,” Cartwright said. “I wasn’t protecting the ball with two hands.”

The Redskins answered with a 12-play, 67-yard drive to tie it at 21-21 on Brunell’s 11-yard pass to H-back Chris Cooley with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.

Holmes’ winning touchdown came with 13:21 left and although he didn’t break any tackles, several Redskins had shots to bring him down were it not for taking bad pursuit angles.

“We had some players out to dry over there,” linebacker Lemar Marshall said. “I saw a bunch of white shirts pursuing the ball but he made a nice cut, and then another cut and we couldn’t get him.”

The Redskins still had plenty of time, but consecutive sacks by Allen ended one drive and on their next possession, Gibbs elected to punt on fourth-and-8 from the Chiefs 40.

Problem was, the punt bounded into the end zone and the Chiefs held the ball for the next 4:18.

The Redskins took possession with no timeouts and 1:46 left at their own 22 and used Brunell completions of 11, 19 and 15 yards to get to the Chiefs 33 with 39 seconds left.

Brunell overshot Cooley on first down, missed an open James Thrash over the middle on second down, threw it away under pressure on third down and, on fourth down, had Moss momentarily open down the left sideline, but the pass was deflected by Knight.

“We just have to regroup,” right guard Randy Thomas said. “find a way to get started earlier, put games away and get the offense into the end zone without turning the ball over.”


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