- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2006

SEATTLE — Carlos Rogers had a chance.

The Washington Redskins were leading the Seattle Seahawks 3-0 in the second quarter when their rookie cornerback stepped in front of running back Maurice Morris with a free ball and a clear path to the end zone in front of him.

Rogers got his hands on the ball at about the Seahawks’ 25-yard line, but he couldn’t make the catch and missed out on what would have been a sure touchdown.

The Redskins defense delivered a solid game and knocked Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander, the league’s MVP, out of the game in the first quarter. However, they couldn’t score as they have in recent weeks and provide points to offset another inept performance by the Redskins offense.

“It might have been a different game if there was an interception returned for a touchdown,” said Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs, who watched as the Seahawks scored on the drive to take a 7-3 lead.

The Washington defense scored a touchdown in the playoff win against Tampa Bay on a 51-yard fumble return by Sean Taylor and set up another when an interception by LaVar Arrington gave the Redskins the ball on the Buccaneers’ 6.

Yesterday, the defense forced only one turnover — a fumble by Shaun Alexander at the Washington 11 on the game’s first series. They also produced no sacks in an otherwise good performance that couldn’t salvage the lack of production by quarterback Mark Brunell and the offense.

“We couldn’t quite make enough plays to shift the momentum,” linebacker Marcus Washington said. “We almost had a chance that one time when they fumbled. Philip [Daniels] was running for it. Carlos almost had one. It was just a play here and a play there, who knows?”

The day started in promising fashion when Alexander fumbled the ball and linebacker Lemar Marshall recovered. Later in the quarter, Alexander was knocked out of the game with a concussion by Arrington.

“You get the MVP out of the game and you are supposed to stop them, and we didn’t,” safety Ryan Clark said. “It wasn’t really the type of game he wanted to be in. Our goal was to get the MVP out of there. Not as far as injury, but just eliminate him from the game and make them one-dimensional. That is what happened.”

Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck took care of the rest by making big plays. Seattle receiver Darrell Jackson had 143 yards receiving, and fullback Matt Strong made a key catch on a third-and-6 for 32 yards at the Washington 20 in the fourth quarter. That play set up the game-sealing field goal.

Nonetheless, despite an offense that scored only 10 points in its second consecutive week of struggling, the defense took the blame for its shortcomings. The unit, which has been a big part of the Redskins’ scoring the past two weeks, just couldn’t get on the board.

“We don’t complain,” Washington said. “We don’t point fingers. If the offense had a tough day, it is up to us to go out and score points and make turnovers.”

Defensive end Daniels summed it up this way.

“We have a couple of pieces that we are missing,” he said. “We will fix them in the offseason and go from there.”

Arrington’s farewell?

Linebacker LaVar Arrington likely played his final game for the Redskins. Arrington holds a team-high salary cap figure for 2006, and his relationship with Redskins owner Dan Snyder and the defensive coaches is strained.

“I want to be here 100 percent,” Arrington said. “This is where my heart is. I’m going to get on my knees every night and pray that everything works out. I love the fans. I love everything about being in Washington.

“I’ve said some things I probably shouldn’t have said out of the heat of the moment, and I have regrets for that. But I love being a Redskin through and through. After we put this building block in place, I don’t want to start over and go somewhere unfamiliar.”

Brown says goodbye

Guard Ray Brown, at 43, is the oldest lineman to play in the NFL since the 1920s. Yesterday, Brown played the final game of his 20-year career, overcoming cramps that sent him to the locker room in the third quarter.

“I didn’t want to leave this game sitting on the bench watching,” Brown said, choking up. “I can watch next year. It seemed like an eternity in here listening [to the game]. I kept asking the doctors to let me get back in the game and help my team hopefully win. I had to get my body temperature up because the IVs really had me cold, but I was going to come back some kind of way.”

Brown said he has some plans for the future — and that his wife has a few for him, as well.

“I leave this game with so much. It’s time to give some time to my family, to some charitable organizations, to my community,” Brown said. “So many people encouraged me and supported me. The D.C. area is going to be home.

“There’s going to be a whole lot of down time. I’m going to be at the beck and call of my wife. I’m going to be moving a lot of heavy furniture. I might cut a little grass. And I’ll be somewhere around this game that’s been so good to me.”

Springs’ sour return

Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs, a fan favorite when he played in Seattle from 1997 to 2003, didn’t enjoy his return to his first NFL home. Not only did he and his team suffer a season-ending loss, but he had to leave the game briefly before halftime with cramps.

“I think it happened because it had been my first week back practicing,” Springs said. “Once I came back out of the locker room [in the third quarter] I was fine. The fans still love me, so that was nice.”

Griffin hurt, Thrash sidelined

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin suffered the Redskins’ only serious injury, spraining a knee ligament in the fourth quarter. Cedric Killings replaced Griffin.

Receiver James Thrash, who had a small plate surgically inserted into his fractured right thumb on Monday, was ultimately deemed unable to play because of a protective splint and was made inactive.

Taylor Jacobs started in Thrash’s place, as he had throughout December. When Jacobs felt sick and had to leave the game for a while, Jimmy Farris, signed off the street on Nov. 21, took the field.

Washington’s other inactives were running back Nehemiah Broughton, cornerbacks Dimitri Patterson and Christian Morton, offensive lineman Ikechuku Ndukwe, linebacker Nick McNeil and defensive tackle Aki Jones. Jason Campbell was the third quarterback.

Field position hurts cause

A struggling offense like the Redskins’ faces a tough task if given possession at midfield. The job becomes nearly impossible when its handed the field position the Redskins got in the first half.

The Redskins started their four first-quarter possessions at their own 11-, 12-, 15- and 8-yard lines and, predictably, went three-and-out each time.

In the second quarter, a fumbled punt gave the Redskins possession at the Seattle 39 and John Hall kicked a 26-yard field goal. Five times in the first half, they started inside their own 16-yard line.

“It hurt us, but it wasn’t the reason why we lost the game,” center Casey Rabach said. “It’s not the greatest way to play a game, but we were able to overcome that in games past.”

The Redskins’ longest drive was 76 yards, capped by Santana Moss’ 20-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.

Turnover battle won, game lost

The Redskins played with fire throughout the early season, losing the turnover battle but winning games. The tables were turned against the Seahawks: The Redskins were plus-2 in turnovers yet managed only three points from their three takeaways.

A Lemar Marshall fumble recovery on Seattle’s first possession ended in a Redskins punt. A Jimmy Williams punt return fumble resulted in Hall’s field goal, and Josh Scobey’s kickoff return fumble ended with a missed field goal.

“Whenever you get turnovers in the playoffs, you should win,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said.

The Redskins were 5-2 this season when winning the turnover battle.

Crowd noise not a factor

Qwest Field led the NFL this season with 24 false start penalties by Seahawks opponents. But the Redskins handled the crowd noise well: Jon Jansen had the offense’s only false start penalties, and they had no delay of game calls.

“We played in loud stadiums all year and practice with crowd noise during the week,” Casey Rabach said. “We have a really good, smart group of guys on the offensive line and it really wasn’t a factor.”

Rabach said the Redskins made no adjustments in their pre-snap process because of the crowd.

“It’s not like they had to hear me make a lot of the calls because this group knows what to do,” he said.

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