Keeping Tabs on Washington's Team

St. Louis Proves to be Ram-Tough for Redskins

By Jim Iovino
|  Monday, Sep 27, 2010  |  Updated 10:13 AM EDT
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<a title=Chris Cooley, Brian Orakpo and Albert Haynesworth give their take on the loss to the Rams. redskins.com; nfl.com" />

Chris Cooley, Brian Orakpo and Albert Haynesworth give their take on the loss to the Rams. redskins.com; nfl.com

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What is it about the St. Louis Rams that brings out the worst in the Washington Redskins?

Last year the Redskins squeaked out a 9-7 win over the hapless Rams and were showered with a steady stream of boos by the home crowd at FedEx Field.

If Sunday's game were played in Landover and not St. Louis, you can guarantee those boos would rain down again. But this one was played in St. Louis, and the hometown fans of the Rams -- those same Rams who have won just three games in 31 chances since the start of the 2008 season -- had plenty to cheer about.

The Rams won the game 30-16, meaning the Redskins have a lot of explaining to do. Not only did they lose to the Rams, but they lost to a St. Louis squad that played much of the game without its top running back (Stephen Jackson) and its top defensive back (Oshiomogho Atogwe).

In other words: this should not have happened.

But it did. The Redskins started the game poorly and ended it the same way. What happened in the middle is of little consolation. 

How bad was it?  They were 0-for-9 on third-down conversions, lost the time of possession battle (34:50 to 25:10), and gained just 13 first downs.

The Redskins quickly fell behind 14-0 due to a couple of big miscues.

Graham Gano's opening kickoff went out of bounds. The penalty gave the Rams the ball at their own 40, and Jackson made the Skins pay.

After the Rams kept the drive alive by converting a fourth-and-1 at the Washington 40, Jackson did the rest by breaking off a 42-yard TD run.  The play went to the right, Jackson broke through the first line of defense, and then cut it back to the left and outran LeRon Landry to the end zone.

The Redskins' first possession lasted all of three plays. The drive looked to be going well with quick hits to Fred Davis and Santana Moss for sizeable gains, but on McNabb's third pass, Moss picked up 10 yards before fumbling as he was tackled. St. Louis' James Butler picked up the loose ball and ran it back 49 yards to the Redskins' 4 yard line.

Sam Bradford converted two plays later by pulling off a solid bootleg on 2nd and goal. Bradford rolled to the right and was looking for tight end Daniel Fells, but he was covered by two Redskins. Bradford looked as if he was going to run for it, so London Fletcher left is coverage and went after the QB.

Unfortunately, so did DeAngelo Hall. Once Hall left his man uncovered, Bradford pulled up and dumped the ball to a wide-open Fells for the TD to give the Rams a 14-0 lead. So much for Hall's calls for covering the opposing team's top receiver on every play earlier in the week...

Things nearly got worse for the Redskins -- and fast. Washington's next possession ended with a punt, and Gano -- who was filling in for Josh Bidwell, who was injured in pregame warmups -- had it blocked.

The Skins avoided more damage, however, thanks to Kareem Moore, who was making his first appearance of the season after recovering from an injury. Moore intercepted Bradford on the very next play by tipping the pass to himself to give the ball back to the Redskins' offense.

That play led to a Redskins' field goal, and seemed to turn the tide, as Washington put up 13 straight points and were down by a point going into the half.

Things were looking good. The Redskins' offense was back on track -- and the Rams' best player was injured.

With about 4 minutes to play in the first half, Jackson hurt his groin on a run. It was initially ruled a fumble on the play and the Redskins thought they recovered it. But after further review, it showed that Jackson's knee was down before the ball came out. It also showed that the Redskins' defense split his legs in two like a wishbone. Jackson was helped off the field but walked on his own to the locker room.

He returned to the sidelines for the second half, but didn't return to the game. The Rams were also without Atogwe, and the Redskins took advantage on the first play from scrimmage in the third. McNabb hooked up with Santana Moss for a big 56-yard completion. More yards were added as Moss was brought down with a horse-collar tackle, giving the Redskins first and goal at the Rams' 8 yard line.

McNabb and Co., however, couldn't convert in the red zone -- a constant theme all day -- and settled for a field goal to take a brief 16-14 lead.

Even though Jackson wasn't in the game, the Rams responded with a long scoring drive on their first possession of the half. And they did so by converting two third downs of 10 and 7 yards on the drive. The 12-play, 74-yard drive was capped off with a 12-yard jaunt by Jackson backup Kenneth Darby -- a run that included a juke that made Moore look silly -- to take back the lead 21-16.

Then, in the fourth quarter, the Rams went on an inexplicable 11-play, 46-yard drive that was dominated by the run game. Yes, they drove down the field for a field goal by running the ball -- even with Jackson still on the sidelines. Darby continued his strong rushing effort by gaining 27 yards on the drive on five straight carries. The Brown field goal of 37 yards extended St. Louis' lead to 24-16.

The Redskins' last chance came with 7:20 to go in the fourth quarter. They stopped the Rams' drive and had them at fourth-and-1. But the defense couldn't stop Darby as he pushed through Brian Orakpo and gained the first down. The Rams eventually added another field goal to make it 27-16, essentially putting the game away.

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