- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2011

ST. LOUIS — The Washington Redskins were overjoyed as they filed through the basement of the Edward Jones Dome to their team bus. Not only did they escape with a 17-10 victory over the St. Louis Rams, their upcoming bye week gives them an extra week to savor it.

The harrowing nature of the win didn’t seem to matter, either. The Rams were 19 yards from erasing a 17-0 deficit, but they didn’t. That’s all that counted.

“In this league you’ve got to celebrate and cherish every win you get,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “And the end of the day, we got a win. We’ll look at the film and be hard on ourselves. We know we can play better, but we’re going to enjoy this.”

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan after the game lamented not being 4-0, his mind still stuck on last Monday’s blown lead against the Dallas Cowboys.

In assessing the quality of this win, he praised progress in the running game but was displeased by late turnovers and failed third-down conversions.

“We did some good things,” he said. “We didn’t finish. The key is to keep on getting better as a football team, not play your best football in September and October.”

Redskins players will have five consecutive days off beginning Wednesday. Coaches on Monday and Tuesday will game plan for the Oct. 16 game against Philadelphia before taking some time off.

As for any style points related to the Redskins’ 3-1 record, tight end Chris Cooley couldn’t care less.

“We’re not going to look back on this game and think we snuck out in St. Louis and we battled and got one against Arizona,” he said. “A win is a win for us. We’ll enjoy a week off. There’s no need to look back at the way we got to 3-1.”

Helmet-to-helmet hankies

The Redskins were penalized for unnecessary roughness twice because of helmet-to-helmet hits by the punt coverage team.

Rams returner Austin Pettis’ refusal to fair catch the ball tempted linebacker Perry Riley, and later receiver Niles Paul, to smash into him only a moment after the punt landed in his arms. The hits were explosive, highlight-reel stuff.

Riley said an official told him he was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Mike Shanahan disagreed with the call.

“It looked to me on the replay like he hit him in the chest and it was a fumble,” he said.

Replays showed that Paul contacted Pettis’ helmet with his own.

“You’ve got to go lower,” Shanahan said of that hit.

Shanahan mourns friend

Sunday’s victory culminated an emotional 48 hours for Shanahan. On Friday night, his best friend and college roommate, longtime NFL assistant coach Mike Heimerdinger, died of cancer.

“I think he had something to do with maybe a couple of those plays, especially in the fourth quarter,” Shanahan said. “Any time you lose a dear friend, a guy that I’ve been very close to a long time, especially at his age, is very tough. If you guys knew him, you’d realize we just lost a great person.”

Extra points

• Strong safety LaRon Landry missed a series in the second half because he was in the restroom.

“Something happened there,” Shanahan said.

Missing game time to be in the restroom is unusual. Landry, however, played down his temporary absence.

“I’m fine,” he said curtly.

• Receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) was inactive. Jabar Gaffney had a game-high 62 receiving yards on four catches.

• Fullback Darrel Young (hamstring) also was inactive. Tight end Chris Cooley played some snaps at fullback, and Mike Sellers also played a few.

“Ideally, do I want to line up at tight end and run routes? Absolutely, yes,” Cooley said. “D.Y. will be healthy. … He’s unquestionably the fullback of this football team.”

• Rich Campbell can be reached at rcampbell@washingtontimes.com.

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