Roller Coaster

The Redskins' game against the Falcons was a few different types of games wrapped into one. As it progressed, it morphed into different forms.

Initially, it shaped out as the classic Embarrassing Blowout:


·        Consecutive offsides penalties give Atlanta a first down on their opening possession (here we go again)

·        Champ Bailey drops a potential interception near the goal line, allowing the Falcons to keep possession and kick a field goal to make it 3-0. (still no takeaways this season)

·        The Redskins were flagged for two false starts in the first nine minutes of play (no focus)

·        Skins get a drive going deep into Atlanta territory. Then Laveranues Coles takes an knee to the head, his return is uncertain (more bum luck with a star free agent).

·        The drive ends when John Hall badly misses a 51-yard field, certainly in his range. (certainly excusable, but the timing was bad)

·        The Redskins are all over Johnson, but he gets away a dying duck of a pass that tight end Alge Crumpler manages to haul in at the Washington 13. T. J. Duckett ran it in from there on the next play. (even when the Skins do something right, it seems to turn out wrong.

·        A penalty on the ensuing kickoff forces the Redskins back to their 10 to start the series. (this is getting old)

·        Patrick Ramsey is blindsided, fumbles, and Atlanta recovers inside the one. Duckett scores his second touchdown in 1:03 to make it 17-0 (what else can go wrong?)

·        Ramsey fumbles at own 25 and Atlanta recovers. (let’s see, there aren’t any leaves to rake yet; does the lawn need mowing?)


At this point, the game began to take on the shape of the Respectable Loss

  • The Skins survive that turnover with a three and out as Jay Feely misses a 45-yard FG wide left (well, the grass isn’t that long anyway)
  • Rod Gardner makes a great catch for a first down at the Atlanta 12 (OK, put the newspaper down)
  • Ledell Betts makes a power 13-yard run for the TD. (hmmm, it’s only a 10-point game.
  • Atlanta gets penalized on the kickoff return, making them start at their 12 (this could get interesting)
  • Ifeanyi Ohalete picks off a Doug Johnson pass, returns it to the one to set up Rock Cartwright’s TD to make it 17-14. (maybe, just maybe there’s a chance)
  • Falcons respond with a 52-yard kickoff return by Alan Rossum to the Washington 39. Two Warrick Dunn runs later, Johnson throws a one-yard touchdown pass to  Crumpler. Crumpler gives to ball to a fan in the stands to commemorate the clinching TD (maybe the grass has grown a lot since I looked before)
  • Chad Morton hesitates on the kickoff return and is tackled at the 13. (the heck with the grass, just go get a beer)


As momentum shifts, could this turn into the Improbable Win?

  • Redskins get ball at own 30 with 56 seconds left (here comes a draw play and a kneel down)
  • Passes to Bryan Johnson, Coles, and Gardner move the Skins into range for Hall to boom a 54-yard field goal just before halftime (does taking momentum into halftime men anything?)
  • Redskins use five runs and five passes to drive to Ramsey’s 21-yard TD pass to Gardner. (maybe it does)
  • Bryan Brander punts the Falcons back to their five (did he save his job again).
  • Jesse Armstead sacks Johnson in end zone for a safety to give the Redskins the lead for the first time (the Falcons are coming unglued)
  • After taking the free kick, the Redskins impose their will on the Falcons in the course of driving to Ramsey’s 19-yard TD pass to Coles with 12:47 to play. (do you believe in miracles?)
  • Matt Bowen makes a diving interception to kill an Atlanta drive (that’s it)
  • Falcons start using timeouts with 4:24 to go with the Redskins in possession. (why prolong yoru agony?)
  • Trung Canidate runs for 22 on second and 13 at the three. (the beer’s be tossed aside, I’m getting ready to pop the cork on a good bottle of champagne).
  • Atlanta uses final timeout with 2:45 to go. (Na-na-na-na Na-na-na-na, Hey, hey, hey, Good bye).


Then the spectrum of the horrible, gut-wrenching, seasone-killing loss rears its ugly head:

·        Rossum returns a punt 26 yards to Washington 43 (a modicum of  concern sets in)

·        Johnson immediately throws a TD pass to Jimmy Farris. It’s his first NFL catch. (get me a beer and a shot, immediately)

·        Atlanta’s onside kick fails, but, with 2:20 left, Skins can’t just fall on the ball to win. (OK, cancel the shot, but bring the beer)

·        Betts’ run three yards short of first down on third and eight. (did you already pour that shot?)

·        Atlanta gets the punt at its own eight with :19 left. It would take a miracle.It didn’t happen as Johnson’s pass goes through the hands of Farris as time runs out (whew)


Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has detailed coverage of every game the Redskins played from 1937 through the 2001 season. For details, go to


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