- The Washington Times - Monday, October 19, 2009


What happened: The Redskins’ defense smothered the Chiefs on the opening drive, harassing quarterback Matt Cassel and forcing a three-and-out. Clinton Portis’ early-season struggles continued as Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel recovered the running back’s fumble on his second carry. Kansas City couldn’t capitalize, however, despite converting a fourth-and-1. The Redskins took over at their 20 and couldn’t convert a third down when Chris Cooley caught a Jason Campbell pass short of the first down. The Chiefs drove into field goal range but were unsuccessful going for it on fourth down a second time in the quarter. Facing another third-and-long, Cooley learned his lesson and broke a tackle to pick up 25 yards as the quarter came to an end.

Analysis: Apparently Chiefs coach Todd Haley didn’t learn from Jim Zorn’s fourth-down problems this season. Haley passed up a 42-yard field goal to go for it on fourth-and-2, only to have Cassel wind up on his back again. With the Redskins’ offense struggling, it was surprising to see the Chiefs pass up a sure three points. Meanwhile, the Redskins’ defense continued to bail out the inept offense, pressuring Cassel on almost every pass. Portis was unable to produce anything on the ground behind the patchwork offensive line, averaging under 3 yards a carry.


3 Sacks for the Redskins defense on the Chiefs’ third drive in the quarter, including one by Andre Carter on fourth-and-2 that ended the drive.


What happened: Both teams traded punts after the Redskins’ drive stalled, and Santana Moss returned a punt to the Washington 41 to set up good field position. On the first play of the drive, Moss had beaten his man deep in Kansas City territory, but Campbell’s throw was just past his reach. Fans booed the offense off the field after the Redskins’ third three-and-out of the first half. On the next drive, the Chiefs were aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty on Albert Haynesworth and solid running by Larry Johnson, finally getting on the board with a 39-yard field goal. After punts by each team, the Redskins drove into Kansas City territory, but instead of attempting a 53-yard field goal, Zorn opted for a pass to the end zone. Campbell’s pass was intercepted to end the half.

Analysis: The No. 1 sign an offense is terrible — it produces zero points, 110 total yards and four first downs in the first half against the league’s worst defense entering the game. Portis had nowhere to run behind the offensive line, and Campbell missed Moss for a sure touchdown early in the quarter. The Redskins’ defense played solid and allowed only a field goal, but because the offense is so inept — unless it can force turnovers and create a short field like against the Panthers — this team has no hope of scoring. The decision not to attempt a long field goal to end the half could have proved costly, especially when the offense showed no signs of life.


8 Punts combined for the Redskins and Chiefs in the first half.


What happened: Campbell was benched to start the third quarter, with Todd Collins replacing him at quarterback. On his first attempt of the season, Collins hit Moss for a 42-yard gain down to the Kansas City 27. The drive stalled, however, and Shaun Suisham made a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3. After forcing a Chiefs punt, Portis broke a 78-yard run, the longest of his career. Deep in Kansas City territory, Collins missed on three straight passes, and the Redskins had to settle for another Suisham field goal to take the lead. The Chiefs responded with a field goal of their own, although with the CBS feed out, only those at the stadium saw it.

Analysis: Zorn’s decision to bench Campbell will be the story of the game, and Collins’ long pass to Moss on his second snap helped justify the decision. All the questions next week will focus on who starts against the Eagles on “Monday Night Football.” Was this a one-time benching, as the Eagles did with Donovan McNabb last year, or was it a permanent switch? Meanwhile, it was surreal to see Portis running in the open field, something fans hadn’t witnessed since his long run in his first carry with the Redskins in 2004.


101 Yards rushing for Clinton Portis after the third quarter as he surpassed century mark in a game for the first time since Nov. 23, 2008.


What happened: Collins’ third drive stalled after a false start penalty on third-and-6, and the Redskins were forced to punt again. Haynesworth continued to harass Cassel as his pressure forced an incomplete pass on the Chiefs’ subsequent drive. After Stephon Heyer was beaten, leading to a sack on third down, the Redskins’ special teams made a mistake for the second straight week when Glenn Pakulak’s punt was blocked. After Washington was inside the 5-yard line, Ladell Betts came up just short on third down, forcing yet another Pakulak punt. A 15-yard face-mask penalty gave the Chiefs great field position at the Washington 36, and they turned it into a third field goal. A botched snap on third down ended the Redskins’ drive and for the third time this quarter the special teams broke down, allowing a long punt return. Kansas City burned some clock before its fourth field goal, then fittingly ended the Redskins’ chances with a safety.

Analysis: Welcome to rock bottom. The switch from Campbell to Collins accomplished virtually nothing, with only one long pass to Moss to show for it in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was a virtual replay of the first half with no rhythm on offense and nowhere for Portis to run. On the bright side, Zorn hadn’t wasted all of his timeouts before the final two minutes. Unfortunately for him, he may have learned his lesson too late.


0 First downs for the Redskins in the fourth quarter.

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