The Inside Game

A few hours before kickoff Sunday, Redskins quarterback Tony Banks met with coach Marty Schottenheimer. They wanted to finalize the game plan one last time and Schottenheimer wanted to remind him of one important aspect of the game.

''It was very evident to us that they were going to spend a lot of time against our play-action pass,'' Schottenheimer said. ''We talked about the importance of completions, throwing the ball to the outlets underneath. [Seattle] worked like the devil to get back underneath to guard all that deep stuff. Tony took what was there and that enabled us to have some success. It's his growth and his understanding of where these people are going to be. During the week we focused on, if it wasn't open down the field, give it to the back.''

Which is what Banks did. And it's another sign of growth in the 28-year old Banks, still a work in progress. Banks played a mature, efficient game. It's something people wondered if he could do, or would he be the kind of guy who could only flourish in a vertical attack.

But Banks never became greedy, even after throwing touchdown passes of 76 and 85 yards the past two games.

Instead, Banks settled for the short throws time and again. It's why 10 of his 15 completions went to backs or tight ends.

His calm demeanor in the pocket, and solid decision-making, was evident on several throws. Start with the seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Walter Rasby. By design, Banks looked to his right, then his left. This allowed Rasby to block for a second, release and head for a wide-open spot in the middle. Banks hit him for an easy score.

Two other times Banks' decisions prolonged drives. In the second quarter, following a Champ Bailey interception, Banks wanted to throw into the end zone. But no one was open so, rather than forcing it, he dumped a short pass to Davis over the middle, which resulted in a 10-yard gain. Four plays later Brett Conway kicked a field goal.

On the next drive, again after an interception, Banks, facing third and five from the 6, looked in the end zone. Again no one was open. This time he threw the pass out of the end zone, allowing Conway to kick another field goal.

Last season, against Washington, Banks forced a pass in that situation which resulted in a Redskins interception.

If Banks continues to play this way, his stay might last longer than one season.


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