Running wild

Steve Spurrier got the message. Then he delivered one of his own: he can call the right plays to win in the NFL. For the past two week Spurrier was criticized for calling too many passing plays, with an offense devoid of much passing talent. But he called the right mix Sunday and the Redskins were fun to watch, for the first time in weeks.

Washington ran the ball 39 times compared to 24 passes. The Redskins didn't run well as Stephen Davis gained 88 yards on 31 carries. But the threat of the run, and the persistence of it, opened up the offense.

Two plays in particular showed why it mattered that Washington stuck with the run. Actually, many could show why that helped.

On a first and 10 from the Rams' 30, quarterback Danny Wuerffel faked a handoff to Davis, sucking in the linebackers. And that left a huge gap for him to hit receiver Rod Gardner on a 16-yard post.

Another time, on a second and nine from the Rams' 33, Wuerffel again play faked. And again the Rams' linebackers flew into the gaps. And again Wuerffel hit Gardner on a post, this one for 15 yards.

Washington capped both drives with touchdowns.

Using a balanced attack is the only way Wuerffel can operate. He's not going to win a shootout, not with his arm. But he can win by keeping  a defense guessing. And that's what St. Louis was doing.
Washington would use three receivers, forcing St. Louis into its 4-1-6 set, and the Redskins would run. The Rams would walk their safety up to defend the run only to have the Redskins pass.

That's why Wuerffel completed 69 percent of his passes, the first time a Redskins quarterback has been over 60 percent since Week 3--in a league where 60 percent completion rates are the norm.

Had Spurrier opted for such balance the past two weeks, Washington likely would have at least one more victory. But the Redskins still have an outside shot at the postseason because of the play calling Sunday. It looked like a fun game to coach. And, for a change, it was a fun one to watch.

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