- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 13, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. | The final score suggests otherwise, but simple examination of the Washington Redskins’ 23-17 season-opening loss to the New York Giants on Sunday shows the Redskins have a long way to go until they challenge for NFC East supremacy.

Even though the Redskins’ defense played far from winning football, struggling on third down and in the secondary, the offense produced another opening-day dud, managing only six plays of 10 or more yards before Chris Cooley’s 17-yard touchdown catch that capped a late-game drive against the Giants’ prevent defense.

The offensive highlight came on special teams — holder Hunter Smith’s 8-yard touchdown run off a fake field goal.

The Redskins were within striking range entering the fourth, down 17-10, but they ran only three plays in the opening 12 minutes of the quarter. The Giants sandwiched a three-and-out with two scoring drives that totaled 18 plays and drained the clock.

The Redskins now enter the softest portion of their schedule, starting with Sunday’s home opener against the St. Louis Rams (0-1).



Jason Campbell went 19-for-26 for 211 yards. Clinton Portis rushed 16 times for 62 yards.

Eli Manning was an efficient 20-for-29 for 256 yards.

“We made them kick field goals, we kept them out of the end zone,” coach Jim Zorn told ESPN 980 after the game. “We need to do our part on offense. We fumble, we throw a pick, we lack poise in certain situations.”

The Redskins entered halftime with momentum thanks to Zorn’s gutsy approval of the fake field goal.

In the third quarter, the Redskins’ second takeaway put them in prime position to narrow the lead.

The teams traded punts for most of the third quarter until the Redskins’ second takeaway gave them a chance to close the gap.

Safety LaRon Landry, playing the role of a heat-seeking missile, broke up a pass intended for Steve Smith. DeAngelo Hall intercepted the deflection and returned it 18 yards to the New York 11.

But the Redskins couldn’t cash in with a touchdown. Clinton Portis lost 6 yards, gained 10 back on a screen pass, and on third down from the 7 Justin Tuck got past Stephon Heyer to sack Campbell. Shaun Suisham hit a 27-yard field goal to give the Giants a 17-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Similar to last year’s season opener against the Giants, the Redskins started slow and dug themselves into a hole.

First-quarter yards: Giants 128, Redskins 33.

First quarter time of possession: Giants 12:11, Redskins 2:49.

“It resembled last year’s game quite a bit,” Cooley said. “I think we felt more confident offensively and we could move the ball down the field and we had a lot of opportunities that we didnt take advantage of. We had a couple drives where we really established we could move it down and killed ourselves. We had our chances to win the football game.”

The Giants took the opening kickoff and methodically moved down the field, covering 67 yards on 12 plays. Manning converted a third-and-3 (seven yards to Smith) and a third-and-7 (25 yards to Manningham) to keep the drive alive. The Redskins forced a 28-yard Tynes field goal when they stuffed Brandon Jacobs twice inside the 15-yard line.

Portis gave the Redskins a great start with a 34-yard run… until Zorn’s first trick play call backfired when Antwaan Randle El needlessly held on to the ball too long and took an 11-yard sack to stall the drive.

Washington’s next offensive possession started at its own 3-yard line (and ended in three plays) after the Giants failed to convert a fourth-and-1 when Albert Haynesworth and Chris Horton stuffed Jacobs on the opening play of the second quarter.

Following another Redskins three-and-out, the Giants extended the lead to 10-0 thanks to a third-and-9 conversion and, on third-and-7, a 30-yard touchdown pass to Manningham. After catching the ball near the line of scrimmage, he made Fred Smoot miss, ran through an Andre Carter tackle and made Hall look bad when the cornerback tried to tackle him high and whiffed.

The Redskins’ next drive ended with an interception inside Giants territory when Campbell rolled right and tried to hit Santana Moss along the sideline. But Corey Webster stepped in front for the interception.

Last year, the Redskins went five games without their first offensive turnover and Campbell didn’t throw his first interception until his 250th attempt (and ninth game).

The Giants couldn’t capitalize on the interception — Carter sacked Manning, forcing the fumble, which was recovered by Lorenzo Alexander.

Now it was the Redskins’ chance to squander a takeaway. And it was much more costly.

Umenyiora, playing his first regular-season game since the Giants’ Super Bowl win over New England, used an outside move to get around left tackle Chris Samuels. With his left hand, Umenyiora stripped Campbell, picked up the fumble and ran 37 yards for the touchdown.

But just when the game appeared to be getting away from the Redskins, Campbell finally got a chance to operate in the passing game and Zorn approved of a trick play.

Starting at his own 23, Campbell completed passes of 11 (Cooley), 23 (Ladell Betts) and 35 (Randle El) to get a first-and-goal from the New York 8. Three plays produced no yards and Suisham set up for a 26-yard field goal.

But after he caught the snap, holder Smith ran right to the end zone for his second career touchdown. Six years ago for Indianapolis he scored on a 21-yard run, also from a fake field goal.

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