- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 24, 2006

ST. LOUIS — Redskins free safety Sean Taylor played like a difference-maker yesterday.

He made all the difference in St. Louis’ offense being able to rack up a season-high 579 yards in a 37-31 overtime victory against the Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome. From start to finish, the Rams tormented Taylor.

They ran through him, past him and around him.

The final scene, fittingly, was a 21-yard touchdown run by Steven Jackson. Taylor had a chance to stop Jackson well before the end zone but gave an effort best described as lackluster.

“I saw it,” Jackson said. “I was not going to allow him to make that play.”

Jackson though, who ran for 150 yards on 33 carries, did make the play.

Taylor set the tone for a game full of defensive whiffs by trying to bring down rookie tight end Dominique Byrd with an arm tackle in the second quarter. Byrd broke it with no difficulty, scoring his first NFL touchdown on a 27-yard reception.

“I wasn’t thinking about who it was or trying to break a tackle,” Byrd said. “I was thinking about getting into the end zone.”

From there, the missed tackles rapidly mounted and figured in game-changing plays.

On Jackson’s 64-yard scoring play in the third quarter — a simple safety-valve reception — linebacker Warrick Holdman missed on a diving tackle after losing Jackson in coverage, and strong safety Vernon Fox was cast aside by the running back.

Several Redskins special-teamers missed during Shaun McDonald’s 33-yard punt return that set up the winning score.

Jackson did not argue when it was suggested that the flurry of broken tackles broke the Redskins’ collective will.

“That’s what we like to think,” said Jackson, who became the first back in franchise history to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game. “Late in the game, guys are getting tired. I reiterated to the guys that if we will our way through this, we’ll feel good about what we accomplish.”

Taylor’s poor tackling performance surprised the Rams. They were well aware of his reputation for being obsessed with hitting runners, factoring that into their offensive planning.

The Redskins started without injured linebacker Marcus Washington, and cornerback Shawn Springs left the game after four plays after fracturing his shoulder blade. Those developments though, didn’t seem influence the Rams’ offense as much as Taylor’s tendency to roam out of position.

Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said St. Louis expected Taylor to creep closer to the line to get involved in run defense.

“Sometimes you can make ‘em pay, and sometimes you don’t,” Bulger said. “Fortunately, we were able to make ‘em pay.”

With the deep middle regularly open, Bulger threw for 388 yards and four touchdowns. Rams receiver Isaac Bruce, competing in his 13th season in the NFL, had nine receptions for 148 yards.

“Maybe there’s a perception around the league that you can play one-on-one against [Bruce],” Bulger said. “I think after today, they’ll be helping out on him.”

Jackson added: “We have a lot of guys who can make plays. This is an offense that I don’t think too many defenses want to face.”

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