- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005

Everything was in place for an enjoyable opening day at the Big Ugly in Landover. It was a gorgeous, 83-degree day. Lovebirds Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were in the house to sing “America the Beautiful.” The opponent, the Chicago Bares, were quarterbacked by rookie Kyle Orton, who had 105 players drafted before him in April.

What could possibly go wrong for the Redskins?

Try Patrick Ramsey. Washington’s fourth-year quarterback could throw an interception if there were no defenders on the field. The owner of the worst interception percentage of any NFL quarterback who finished 2004 as a starter, Ramsey needed just two passes in 2005 to get picked off again.

Ramsey recovered to hit a couple of big throws before having a touchdown pass called back and getting plowed under and knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a sore neck.

Mark Brunell took over and did just enough to help the defense survive Antonio Brown’s fumbled kickoff and win 9-7 for Washington’s fourth straight opening triumph. Of course, the Redskins were 15-30 after the opener the past three seasons, and with the dreaded Tuna and the Cowboys on tap next Monday night in Dallas …

Q: How bad could Ramsey have been hurt? He was warming up on the sideline with his helmet on.

A: The Redskins said during the game that Ramsey was cleared to play. Ramsey said he could have returned after halftime. Coach Joe Gibbs decided that sticking with Brunell was the “prudent” move.

Q: That sounds like Dana Carvey imitating the first President Bush. Who starts in Dallas?

A: You don’t waste much time getting to the tough questions, do you? My gut tells me that “Gut Check” Gibbs stays with the 35-year-old veteran who got the “W” yesterday. Brunell starts.

Q: Guess the defense didn’t miss Antonio Pierce or Fred Smoot too much, huh?

A: Gregg Williams and his assistants do as good a job as any staff in the league. And it didn’t hurt getting LaVar Arrington, Phillip Daniels and Matt Bowen back after missing most of ‘04 with injuries.

Q: Three field goals — boo! Where was the retooled, opened-up offense?

A: Ramsey and Santana Moss teamed up for a 52-yard catch. Brunell hit Chris Cooley for 23 yards. Clinton Portis broke off a 41-yard run. The Redskins had that many long plays last year only in the season finale against Minnesota. Points, not big plays, is the problem.

Q: Why does Antonio Brown still have a job? He dropped every ball thrown his way in the last preseason game, set up the Bears’ only touchdown yesterday and didn’t do anything on the three kicks he returned.

A: With field position likely a huge factor against the Cowboys, there’s no reason not to have the dangerous Moss replace Brown. Moss has said he’s willing to return punts if asked.

Q: What was Sean Taylor doing at receiver?

A: Joining the company of the man who used to wear his jersey, Deion Sanders, and the only other defensive back taken by the Redskins in the top eight of a draft in the modern era, Champ Bailey.

Q: Enough about the game. Who sang better, Jessica or Nick?

A: How about neither? You didn’t see it on TV, but former ESPN interview maven Roy Firestone sang the heck out of the national anthem right after Ms. Daisy Duke and Mr.98 Degrees. Personally, I would have preferred O.J. Simpson and Jim Lachey, but I’m old-school.

Q: Why weren’t the Redskins’ cheerleaders wearing burgundy and gold?

A: It was the first September11 on a Sunday since the attacks of 2001, Mr.Un-American. That’s why the cheerleaders were decked out in red, white and blue outfits.

Q: There’s always plenty of burgundy and gold in the stands. Who’s the most popular Redskin?

A: Given the Redskins’ storied history, there was a wide range of jerseys, beginning with Sonny Jurgensen and ending with Laveranues Coles. One fan had the smarts to cover his Michael Westbrook jersey with a Chris Cooley. LaVar Arrington’s No.56 was the most popular.

Q: So what happens next Monday?

A: The Redskins are 0-9 in Texas Stadium since ‘95. Gibbs is 0-8 vs. Parcells since ‘87. They’re 0-4 on “Monday Night Football” since the 2000 election was still undecided. Who do you think is going to win?

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