Giant Mistakes: Penalties Doom Redskins

Everything had turned to Washington's favor. And just when it seemed as if the Redskins would complete an 18-point turnaround, the Giants marched downfield, turning sudden death into a slow death for Washington. Matt Bryant's 29-yard field goal was the difference in New York's 24-21 win over Washington. And here's what we learned about the Redskins.

1. The Redskins play like a dumb, undisciplined team. We knew this before because it was evident in the first two games as well. But it was more pronounced against New York. And it'll kill any playoff talk if it doesn't improve.

Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said he might start fining players heavily for their penalties. It's about time. This stuff has gone on for way too long under him.

Three penalties stuck out Sunday: Darnerien McCants' unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for tossing a ball at a Giant defender, who had driven him out of bounds. The Redskins would have had a first down at the 21, but were instead pushed back to the 36 and eventually punted. Jeremiah Trotter's ridiculous unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he retaliated to a Giant lineman shoving him by shoving back. Good move: it cost the Redskins 15 yards and, instead of New York punting, the Giants kept their drive alive, eventually scoring a touchdown for a 21-3 lead.

Another bad penalty came when Chris Samuels' holding penalty wiped out a 30-yard touchdown pass to Rod Gardner. That was a bad play, but it wasn't a boneheaded play like the other two.

By the way, written on a board in the Redskins' locker room, the No. 1 priority entering the game? Very few penalties. Guess no one paid attention. That makes 35 penalties in three games, a putrid figure.

2. The Redskins have no No. 1 corner in place if Champ Bailey leaves. Yes he got beaten on a 54-yard pass to Amani Toomer, but there were many times Kerry Collins didn't even look Toomer's way because of Bailey. And Fred Smoot struggled mightily. He still has problems against wideouts who are strong route runners; they drive him off easily. Smoot might have suffered effects from his concussion, but if that's the case he shouldn't have played. Another thing: did you see the way Bailey plays the run? He's not just a good cover corner.

3. Patrick Ramsey goes hot and cold, like most young quarterbacks. But when he's on, he's tough to beat. He wasn't helped by several drops in the first half. And he didn't help himself by throwing behind receivers too much. But he does such a good job of making plays at crucial times. His 32-yard toss to Darnerien McCants was beautiful, dumping it over the DB's head. And he showed patience on a couple of screens, notably to Chad Morton. The rush was bearing down, but Ramsey hung tight and allowed Morton to get more separation and turn it into a long gain.

4. Ladell Betts should be he fulltime runner. Not that Trung Canidate didn't have decent numbers -- he rushed nine times for 46 yards. But Betts hits the hole so much faster. Canidate wastes too much time running laterally. Plus Betts picks up the blitz much better.

5. McCants can play. Earlier in the week Steve Spurrier Jr., talked about how far McCants had come and Sunday showed it. Look at two plays, both resulting in points. On the first, McCants was supposed to run inside from the 4. But his path was blocked so he adjusted and raced to the back of the end zone, which was free. He caught the pass for a score. On the second, a two-point conversion, McCants did an excellent job of peeling off his defender and racing back the other way, getting open on a Ramsey scramble. It was the right play, but it's the kind of play McCants wasn't capable of making a year ago.

6. The Redskins need a pass rush. The corners were unanimous in their praise of Giants' quarterback Kerry Collins for his ability to take what the defense gives him. What the defense gave him too often was time and he killed them because of it. If the rush doesn't improve, get used to big plays. Thing is, short of blitzing LaVar Arrington more, there's not much hope to improve the rush.

7. Laveranues Coles is human. He dropped two passes in the first half. Yet he still caught seven passes for 105 yards, his third straight game over 100 yards. But when the Redskins needed him most, Coles came through. Thing is, he tried to blame himself for the loss -- and he meant it. Coles is such a strong team player.

8. The pass blocking improved, but the line had too many bad moments. Jon Jansen kept Michael Strahan in check, but his three false start penalties were bad. Chris Samuels had two costly holding penalties.

9. The Redskins have the potential to be much better than expected: their offense is very explosive and the Giants would have been in trouble had Washington won the toss in overtime. But the Redskins won't realize that poential until they do the so-called little things well, like eliminating penalties.

10. Someone needs to teach the defenders better how to tackle. Ifeanyi Ohalete missed a few and Arrington missed a couple as well, including one in overtime that would have left New York with a third and two or three from its own 14. Could have made a difference.


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