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GameBlog Redskins vs. Steelers 08.26.05

Aug 27, 2005, 5:09 PM EST

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You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

First Quarter

Broughton chases the kick returner down from behind on the opening kickoff, preventing a long return.

Carlos Rogers plays run stopper, knifing under Bettis to make a stop for a loss of one on second and nine. Wouldn’t see that out of Smoot.

I thought that you were never supposed to catch a punt inside the seven. Antonio Brown just caught one at the five and got just four yards on the return. Odds are that a long punt that hits the ground at the five will make its way into the end zone. Danny Smith will have words with him.

Moss should have had that one. The defensive back never saw the long pass from Ramsey on third and six and Moss couldn’t quite adjust to Ramsey’s underthrow (which he had to do to prevent a possible INT had the defender looked up).

The Redskins have finally figured out how to sell the screen. The defense doesn’t seem to be able to sniff it out from the moment the Redskins come out of the huddle. Portis just picked up 10 with a nice setup from the O-line and a good burst of speed to get past a defender.

Not a good decision by Ramsey on that interception, obviously. What I want to know is who was supposed to pick up Clark Haggins on the blitz. It’s not like the blitz is exactly a surprise tactic for the Steelers.

Wait, it that legal? Can a receiver actually run with the ball and make moves and gain yards afer the catch? Santana Moss finally with a chance to show his moves as he scampers down the sideline and cuts back for a long gain on an out pattern.

Second Quarter

From the Redskins six, Ben Roethlisberger made a throw while getting hit that was every bit as ill-advised as Ramsey’s interception was. Of course, the ball fell harmlessly to the ground among several white jerseys.

A second flag on a kick return costs the Redskins some field position on a Brown return. Instead of having th ball near midfield, they will start from their 10. Given a hold on a punt that cost them 14 and Brown’s fielding that punt inside the five that cost them 11, the special teams are giving up some serious real estate.

Another good hookup from Ramsey to Moss, this time on a deep timing pattern down the sidelines that Ramsey threw to exactly the right spot and Moss went up and got it. It appears that they are more in synch than they were in the first two games.

On the next play, Patten had a step on his defender down the right sideline, but Ramsey threw the ball to the outside when it appeared that there was plenty of real estate to the inside for Patten to maneuver and make the catch.

LaVar Arrington lined up at right defensive end on a third and nine and did a nice job of containing Roethlisberger as he threw incomplete. He didn’t try to dash around the tackle blocking him and create a hole that the QB could have run through.

A bullet from Ramsey to Patten over the middle for 17 yards. I like Ramsey better on those throws, when he winds up and whips it in there more than on the ones that require more touch. The offensive line created a huge passing lane and the ball never seemed to leave the level of Patten’s numbers during its flight.

What appeared to be a textbook example of what is now the illegal horse-collar tackle just came as Betts was dragged down from behind by a Steeler defender on third and two. Betts went limping off and the flags stayed in the zebras’ pockets.

I might have to take back what I just said about Ramsey and his touch on the ball. His TD pass to Cooley was a thing of beauty, perfect placement.

The Redskins just beat the Steelers at their own game, field position. They had a nice drive from the nine, drove to near midfield and had to punt. The Washington defense kept them bottled up, though, and the Redskins kept creeping closer on exchanges of punts. It finally pays off with a 55-yard touchdown drive culminating in the Ramsey-to-Cooley touchdown pass.

I’m not impressed with Roethlisberger, at least not tonight. He’s not very accurate and doesn’t make good decisions with the ball. Of the two QB’s on the field, the most impressive has been Ramsey, by far.

Third Quarter

Who is that out there in the #8 jersey? A 19-yard out is supposed to be one of the hardest throws a QB has to make because the ball has to travel so far and it has to get there so quickly. Brunell put it on the money to Brown.

Billy Baber caught a swing pass from Brunell. He was so wide open that almost fell down as he turned the corner for a first down. It seemed that he wanted to go out of bounds after getting the first as several defenders closed in on him, but he thought better of it and cut upfield and took the tackle like a man.

Great running by Cartwright, who benefited from running behind the Redskins’ first team offensive line going against Pittsburgh’s second string defense. Even given that, he ran with great authority during the 85-yard scoring drive, during which he ran for 20 and caught two passes for 29 more. It’s going to be tough to keep him off of the team.

Jim Molinaro didn’t help his chances of survival by lining up behind the line, negating a third down completion for a first by Brunell to Darnerien McCants. He can’t do that, he’s a tackle.

Looking at Andy Groom’s punting, I have to image that Tom Tupa is all of a sudden saying, “Gosh, coach, you know that back is feeling a lot better. I think I can go.” Watching a younger, cheaper player boom the ball and place it well as Groom has can have amazing healing powers for a veteran.

Some backup offensive linemen, however, can get away with costing their team a first down. Ray Brown’s hold on a first-down play negated a completion from Brunell to Kevin Dyson.

Fourth Quarter

With 13:33 left in the game, you finally need two hands to count the number of Steeler first downs tonight.

The second-team defense said enough is enough and stuffed the Steelers. They missed a 43-yard field goal and it remains 17-10 Redskins.

It’s getting sloppy here midway through the fourth quarter as penalties and dropped passes, including a gimmie interception of Jason Campbell that a Steeler defensive back dropped, are the prevalent theme here.

Nemo is running hard and well also. It may be that it’s not a choice between Cartwright and Broughton, but one between going with one fewer linebacker or wide receiver and keeping both of the strong-running young backs who play great special teams.

The Redskins finally get a sack off of the blitz, with Omar Stoutmire bringing Brian St. Pierre down on third down to kill a drive.

Jason Campbell has largely been doing his imitation of Ben Roethlisberger 2004—handing the ball off to a power running back and watching him run.

The Redskins have completely dominated this game. The Steelers had two plays, the interception return and a 51-yard run from scrimmage. That’s it. Washington will wind up with nearly 400 yards of offense for the second straight week. It was a good game for Ramsey; he did well enough to regain his confidence but still did enough wrong so that he has things to work on.

 

 

  1. Anonymous - Aug 29, 2005 at 2:07 AM

    Ok, I think Ramsey is improving, but even on the TD pass, the back was wide open on the goal line, but he chose to make a tough pass to Cooley who had to make a great catch. It looks like Brunell is back to his Jacksonville form. If these were preseason 2004 games, who would start game 1? Is it true that Brunell suffered from a hamstring injury last year? I heard that for the first time during the broadcast.

  2. Rich Tandler - Aug 29, 2005 at 2:17 AM

    Sellers was not on the goal line; he was running along the five. Had Ramsey thrown him the ball, he may or may not have caught it (they called Garnder 50/50?) he would have been brought down by a pair of defenders who were in the shallow part of the end zone and would have closed quickly.

  3. Anonymous - Aug 29, 2005 at 4:12 PM

    Come on, Rich. Ramsey is definitely our best option and he did look much better, but you’re such a fan of him your objectivity has gone out the window. He horribly underthrew Moss twice — one Moss still could have caught and one he made a great play on and did. And while his TD pass to Cooley was fun to watch, it was exactly the kind of play that must keep Gibbs up at night. Ramsey knew he was going to throw to Cooley — no matter how many guys were covering him. It worked out well this time but it wasn’t the smart play.

  4. mbarnes202 - Aug 29, 2005 at 7:50 PM

    The optimistic would say that Ramsey is improving each game. That was a tough Steelers D, and his last drive was a good one. It’s hard to compare Brunnell, because he’s been throwing to worse receivers AND worse defenses.

    I agree w/Rich, Sellers would not have made the end zone.

    I thought, for once, the FOX half-time guys got it right– split opinion on the overall talent level on the ‘Skins (I’m on the side it’s AT LEAST average), and a spot-on assessment of Ramsey– inconsistent– sometimes very good, sometimes very poor.

    We’ll be as good as he is. If he cuts down on the dumb passes (learns to throw it away or take a sack), and stops trying too hard to put touch on his long ball, we could make the playoffs. But those are HUGE ifs.

  5. Rich Tandler - Aug 29, 2005 at 9:50 PM

    I’ve never seen so much criticism of a touchdown pass as this one of Ramsey’s, never. There was one, exactly one, defender on Cooley. The next-closest defender was a spectator about three yards away, the next one was a good seven or eight yards away. Watch the tape. As for the second hookup with Moss, I’d now agree that it was more lucky than a good play. But please keep in mind that this is written on the fly, while the game is going on. There are plenty of TV’s in the press box, but you can’t always catch the replay on them. I keep my editing of these GameBlogs to a minimum (grammar-type issues only for the most part) because I do want to caputre what I see at the time. Sometimes, the first impressions are the best, other times they are faulty.

  6. Anonymous - Aug 30, 2005 at 7:39 AM

    Being a displaced Redskin fan in Colorado, I certainly appreciate your game-blogs.
    I try to follow the NFL.com’s Gametracker, but it only has stats and doesn’t give me much “feel”for what’s really going on.
    Your first impressions give me a glimpse of what it’s like to see the games live and help me get an idea of these Redskins.
    Keep it up!

  7. Doug - Aug 30, 2005 at 12:01 PM

    I have been seeing other teams run this play now for a few years, where they have their receiver sprint down the sidelines, only to turn back quickly for what looks to be an underthrown ball. The defender cannot adjust in time and you have a long completion. I don’t know if that’s what happened with that completion to Moss, but if so, it’s about time we incorporated it, regardless of this endless criticism of Ramsey.

    The best thing about the Pittsburgh game was the play of the offensive line. I disagree that Ramsey has to be great in order for us to be a good team. Rather, the offensive line has to continue to make progress. If that happens, Ramsey will look really really good.

    By the way, the interception, as we all know by now, was a hot read in which the blitzer was allowed to come clean. Ramsey and Thrash were supposed to know what the other would do in that situation. They didn’t and it was costly. Gibbs says he’ll fix it.

  8. Anonymous - Aug 31, 2005 at 8:24 PM

    I agree completely. Since when has Gibbs required a “great” QB to win? Look at every other coach to win multiple Super Bowls – they all have had HOF QB’s like Stauback, Aikman, Elway, Bradshaw, Montana. Gibbs is truly unique in that he doesn’t require this caliber of QB. He needs a 2001 Dilfer-like performance with “great” o-line performance. That would do it.

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