- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005

As soon as Patrick Ramsey’s head slammed into the ground and he complained of neck pain and feeling “dazed,” the Washington Redskins’ quarterback situation morphed into something very different 19 minutes into the season.

And potentially something more interesting, controversial and intriguing.

Moments after the Redskins’ defense — what else? — secured a 9-7 opening-day victory over the Chicago Bears yesterday at FedEx Field, coach Joe Gibbs was faced with questions about — what else? — the quarterback position.

Even though Ramsey was cleared to return at halftime, Gibbs stayed with Mark Brunell, which put Ramsey’s starting status in doubt for next Monday’s game against Dallas.

Asked why he didn’t re-insert Ramsey, Gibbs replied, “I had real reservations. He had a strain of his neck and for me, I felt like Mark got in there and looked good, looked smooth and was handling things pretty well, so I stuck with him.”

Is a quarterback change already afoot?

“I don’t know — I’ll have to see how it all shakes out,” Gibbs said. “We’ll have two days off and we’ll see how everybody heals up and then decide what we’re going to do.”

Ramsey departed four minutes into the second quarter when he was leveled by a clothesline-like hit by Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs. No penalty was called on the play.

“I wanted to play and it’s the coach’s call,” Ramsey said. “I feel OK, as good as you can feel after being dazed a bit. By halftime, I felt fine.”

The Redskins used John Hall’s field goals of 40, 43 and 19 yards to win without a touchdown for the first time since 1992, when Chip Lohmiller kicked five field goals in a 15-13 win over Minnesota.

Before he was injured, Ramsey was six of 11 for 105 yards with an opening-drive interception. On the second play of the second quarter, Ramsey hit Santana Moss for 52 yards — longer than any Redskins completion in 2004 — and after Ladell Betts ran 18 yards, the Redskins had first-and-goal from the Chicago 7.

But Chris Cooley’s apparent touchdown reception was nullified when he was called for offensive pass interference. Ramsey was leveled by Briggs on the next play when the linebacker came free on the blitz and right tackle Jon Jansen could only shove Briggs.

“Unless I missed something, that was a 15-yard [penalty] if I’ve ever seen it,” Gibbs said. “We’re supposed to be watching the quarterbacks.”

Said Brunell: “It was a pretty shady blow to the head. Guys shouldn’t be playing like that.”

Brunell was eight of 14 for 70 yards and led all three scoring drives.

Of potentially getting his starting job back, he said, “I couldn’t even comment on that because that’s entirely up to Coach Gibbs, so I’ll leave it at that.”

Ramsey spent the second half standing alongside the offensive coaches, and what he saw was an offense that moved the ball (323 yards) but scored no touchdowns. Clinton Portis rushed 21 times for 121 yards, and Moss had four catches for 96 yards.

The quarterback issue and the touchdown-less offense overshadowed a stellar defensive performance. Out to prove last year’s No.3 ranking wasn’t a fluke, the Redskins forced Chicago into six punts in six first-half possessions, allowed only 41 rushing yards and produced two key fourth-quarter turnovers. But Chicago took a 7-6 lead when it had to move only 23 yards after Antonio Brown fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half.

The Redskins answered with a 15-play, 63-yard march that ended with Hall’s 19-yard field goal after Gibbs elected to kick on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

“I held my breath the rest of the game,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave that end of the field without the lead and then count on the defense to hold on.”

After Hall’s field goal, Lemar Marshall intercepted Kyle Orton’s pass at the goal-line that was tipped by Warrick Holdman. On the Bears’ next possession, Chicago drove to the Redskins’ 37, but consecutive false-start penalties on Fred Miller, John Tait and Ruben Brown were followed by Demetric Evans’ sack of Orton that killed the threat.

Finally, with 1:39 remaining, Cornelius Griffin sacked Orton, forcing and recovering the fumble to seal the game. Griffin got free when he criss-crossed with Marcus Washington right after the snap.

“We knew we couldn’t let them cross the 50 and get a shot at the end zone or a field goal,” Griffin said. “When Marcus came around me, I was free.”

Not free of concerns is Gibbs, who was upset with the three turnovers, five penalties and no touchdowns. But for the fourth consecutive year, Washington is 1-0.

“You’re always happy to win no matter if it’s the first or last game,” said Jansen, who broke his right thumb yesterday, six days after fracturing his left thumb. “It could have been 8-7 or 7-7, as long as we got more than they do, it doesn’t matter to me.”

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