Analyze That: Win over Falcons

They couldn't hold onto the ball. Or stop the pass rush. Or tackle well. And they couldn't stop the Falcons from taking a 17-0 lead. Then they couldn't be stopped: Washington raced past Atlanta, using a smarter passing game and a stiff defense to rally for a 33-31 victory. The Redskins improved to 2-0 for the first time since 1991 -- a year that ended quite well for Washington.

Here's a look at the highs, and a few lows, from Sunday's win:

Dumb move: Head coach Steve Spurrier called for too many deep drops by quarterback Patrick Ramsey in the first half. That led to Ramsey getting hit on nearly every down. They're playing in a loud dome -- the line could barely communicate -- with a team that rushes the passer well. It was a poor strategy. On one play, left tackle Chris Samuels blocked his man for four seconds, which should be enough time. But Ramsey still had the ball because he had taken a five-step drop. And he got sacked.

Smart move: Spurrier wisely adjusted his thinking midway through the second quarter and after halftime. They ran four receiver screens in the second half (for 49 yards), after calling for one in the first (a 13-yard pickup by Laveranues Coles and it came during the last drive of the half, resulting in a field goal). They used more three-step drops. They ran the ball more (10 times in the frist half; 21 times in the second) and they limited the rush. Also, when they did call for deeper drops, they worked better, which usually happens when a team is in command of the game.

Worst audible: Ramsey checked off to two plays that resulted in his fumbles. He called for a three-step pump and go. Each time he was sacked. Each time he fumbled.

Heroic efforts: Ramsey and receiver Laveranues Coles will be looked at much differently today. Both already were respected by their teammates for their toughness. But that respect will have increased after Sunday when both shook off injuries to have career days. Ramsey injured his left shoulder and took countless hits, yet he completed 13 of 15 passes in the second half for 186 yards en route to a career-best 356 passing yards. Coles suffered a sprained neck, twice -- walking woozily off the field the second time, leading many to wonder if he'd ever return. He did. Four plays later. He went on to catch 11 passes for a career-high 180 yards.

Freedom: One reason the Redskins' defenders love coordinator George Edwards is because of the freedom he gives them. Just look at the play linebacker Jessie Armstead made on the safety. He wasn't supposed to blitz. But he had remembered seeing a similar play in the second quarter. That time he stayed back and covered the back, Warrick Dunn. But Armstead made note of the opening to quarterback Doug Johnson. And when he saw it again, Armstead pounced, sacking Johnson in the end zone for a safety and 26-24 lead.

''George gives us the opportunity to make the play,'' Armstead said. ''I used to do that in New York, too. I had to take [the risk]. It was a critical time and we have to make a play. That's why they brought us in here.''

Contract push: Corner Champ Bailey proved a major point yesterday, shutting down receiver Peerless Price. He held the Falcons high-priced wideout to one catch for nine yards (Price had a 19-yard grab against zone coverage). Bailey covered him all game, which is why Bailey loves Edwards. Bailey's agent, Jack Reale, was at the game (he's based in Atlanta) but he did not talk with the Redskins. By the way, which free agent wideout from this past offseason would teams rather have right now: Price or Coles? It's not even close. And maybe it's the Falcons who overpaid because the Redskins certainly didn't.

Don't forget about: Receiver Rod Gardner. He finished with nine catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. In two games Gardner has caught 14 passes. He did have one drop and he had another play in which he failed to come back for the ball, an occasional problem for him. Still, he and Coles are an excellent combination.

Ground attack: Last week Ladell Betts carried the load. This time Trung Canidate did the duties, rushing for 89 yards on 15 carries. But they used him wisely, springing him on draws time and again and letting him work the edges.

What did you say?: The Redskins backs couldn't hear any of the audibles and the line had a hard time hearing, too. That led to problems in protection. Don't blame the offensive line for all of the six sacks. Maybe half were their fault; at least two were the backs' fault -- fullback Bryan Johnson whiffed on one block attempt and Betts failed to block his man another time.

Last chance for: Safety David Terrell? He was active but only played on special teams. That means, on the depth chart, he's behind fellow backups Todd Franz and Andre Lott. Terrell is known as one of the best guys on the team. But it's not surprising he's fallen this far; rather, it's surprising it's taken this long.

Yeah they won, but . . . : Don't listen to the naysayers about how Washington only won because they faced teams without their top quarterbacks. Yes that makes a big, big difference. And it's a legitimate point. What matters is that the Redskins did what they should do in those case: they won. And they also shredded the Falcons' defense. Just imagine what would be said about the Redskins had they lost these games. Teams with playoff hopes win these games. And rallying from a 17-0 deficit causes players to think they have something special-- it doesn't matter who was or wasn't in the game. All that matters to them is they have confidence.

Then again: But the Redskins can't play that way and beat the Giants. They can't commit 12 penalties; they can't fumble the ball deep in their own territory twice.

Best development: Philadelphia's freefall. It's not that the Eagles have lost, it's that they've looked so bad doing it. Maybe this really will be a two-team race. That's why Sunday's game against the Giants will be so big.

Did you know: The Redskins had two receivers over 100 yards for the first time since Dec. 26, 1999 when Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell surpassed that figure in the NFC East clinching win over San Francisco.

What happened to: Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler. He caught three balls for 48 yards in the first half but only one for six yards in the second. Washington did a better job on him, sometimes using safety Ifeanyi Ohalete and Jessie Armstead to bracket him. It worked.

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