There is something of a big-game atmosphere here at FedEx Field. We weren't quite sure what to think of the Redskins when they last were here on September 21. They had just beaten two playoff contenders at home and, while they were starting to get it together, few thought that they would be 4-1 and the talk of the NFL. But indeed they are 4-1 and nearly every seat that is visible from here is occupied prior to the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. There is no real electricity yet, but that will be determined when the game starts. The Redskins will receive.
11:00—The Redskins' opening drive doesn't seem to be very aggressive, with some Portis runs and short slants being the staples. Only a 12 men on the field penalty against the Rams kept in from being a three and out. I would think that Zorn would want to start off and bury the Rams early, but it appears he's setting up stuff for later on in the game.
10:50—I guess Zorn figured that the Rams would bury themselves. Jackson fumbles and LaRon Landry recovers. One play later, Portis for three off the right side and the Redskins are up.
Portis 3 run (Suisham kick)
Redskins 7, Rams 0
Brooks set up the drive with a perfect pooch punt that rolled dead at the three. He seems to have been alternating good and bad games, maybe this will turn out to be a keeper.
9:56—The thigh-slapper defense is a keeper. Before the third-down snap, London Fletcher did a couple of 360-degree turns, while slapping both thighs, apparently giving a signal to the defense. The result was a tipped pass and a should-have-been interception by Landry. A second takeaway would have had Landry in the running for defensive player of the week honors just 20 minutes into the week.
9:15—The Rams shuffled six players in between second and 10 and third and seven. I'm sure that caught the attention of the coaches upstairs. There has to be someone to target on first-down passing situations if that's the case.
9:00—Campbell took a sack and I'm 100% certain that he would have coughed up the ball on the same hit last year. It was a cornerback from the blindside but he managed to hold on.
5:51—The Redskins are going to have to get some pressure on Bulger. In this drive he has converted after being second and 15 and second and 17. They're not getting very close to him and he's finding his receivers in the seams.
FG Brown 51
Redskins 7, Rams 3
The Rams made Josh Brown a good-sized contract to lure him away from the Seahawks this past offseason. He could be a valuable asset if St. Louis could get into some competitive contests.
Swing pass to 26 gets the offense into a rhythm?
0:58—The Redskins were just getting into a rhythm on offense after a swing pass to Portis for about 14. Then it was a pass to Moss for about 15, Portis for 5, pass to Cooley for 4, Betts for 3 on third and one. Cooley had another first down when he fumbled for the Skins' first offensive turnover of the year. It came fairly deep in Ram territory, so the damage was minimal. It will be interesting to see if they regain the rhythm when they get the ball back.
11:15—The offense is moving a bit more fitfully here, but after a nice Betts run and a Randle El reception the Redskins are near midfield. The Rams have been blitzing Ricky Manning to good effect.
10:06—We have our first Zorn moment here as the Redskins will go for it on fourth and one just inside the St. Louis 40. It certainly seems to be a good gamble, as long as he makes it.
9:46—And he does make it by the nose of the football. Was just kidding about the "as long as he makes it" part, it was the way to go.
9:00—I have a drop by Moss and two by Randle El so far. And a second turnover for the Washington offense. Campbell tried to scoop up an errant shotgun snap as it was rolling on the ground instead of falling on it. Contrast that to last week when he took a knee when a play went awry, keeping the Redskins in field goal range for their initial score. Fortunately, the defense is fairly stout so far.
7:34—The defense forced a three and out after the turnover, which is what a good defense does. It's important that the Redskins have turned the ball over twice but the Rams have one first down and zero points after the giveaways.
7:00—The St. Louis defense isn't playing too badly either. They're not jump-up-and-down fired up, but they're playing hard and with good intensity and the unit is keeping the Rams in the game. And we know that the longer you let an underdog hang around. . .
3:59—The Redskins still are unable to sustain anything offensively. This drive fizzled after a 19-yard Campbell scramble on third down seemed to provide a spark. After a five-yard false start on third down, a pass to Betts was three yards shy of the first. It's two steps forward, one step back it it remains a competitive game.
1:08—Jason Fabini is now the Redskins left tackle as Samuels has left with a knee injury. It didn't appear to be very serious, but anything that puts him out of a game, even for a brief period of time, is of concern.
0:26—Chris Cooley just made up for his fumble and his false start penalty with a whale of a catch. It would have been a great over the shoulder job had nobody been near him, but he took a blast from the safety and still held on.
0:09—Unblieveable. Kendall catches a batted pass and tries to make something out of it. He fumbles and the Rams pick it up and go 75 yards for a score. The Redskins will trail going into halftime.
Atogwe 75 fumble return (Brown kick)
Rams 10, Redskins 7
I know it was just instinct, but Kendall had no business catching that ball. The clock would have kept running and the Redskins would have had to spike it and bring on the field goal team. I'm sure next time he'll bat it down.
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15:00—It's now up to Kendall's teammates to bail him out of the mental blunder. Again, I don't want to blast him too hard because there really wasn't much time to think, but that still wasn't smart.
12:53—The Redskins drop another interception, this time it was Fletcher. That's two in the hands that were not caught. When your offense is coming off of a three-turnover half, you have to even those things up.
12:03—Now the Rams are going for it on fourth and four at the Washington 37. I don't know about this one, if I'm the Rams I don't want to give the momentum back to the Redskins and St. Louis hasn't exactly been moving the ball with any great degree of efficiency. We will see after the Ram timeout.
11:55—They got it with a pass to Holt. The Redskins were playing some pretty soft coverage there, almost conceding the first down. That dropped interception is looming larger and larger as the Rams move downfield towards the end zone.
8:48—Chris Horton gets credit here for stuffing Minor for a two-yard loss on first down. That knocked the Rams off rhythm and they have to settle for a field goal.
FG Brown 25
Rams 13, Redskins 7
It's still a one-score game but the Washington offense really needs to get it going here. The momentum is all on the Rams' side and nothing will turn it around like the Redskins offense getting into a rhythm and moving into the end zone.
7:00—Chris Samuels is back in the game, looking no worse for wear. Unfortunately, he didn't help the offense out of its funk as another drive stalled near midfield.
5:04—It's getting late early. The Rams burn a timeout before a third and 15 play. A Dante Hall punt return got them good field position and the Redskins defense needs to throw a ton of water on this fire. A conversion here would be a big, big blow. Look for the screen.
5:00—Springs with a sack to kill the drive. The Redskins now get another shot, but a holding call on the punt return pushes the Redskins back inside the 10.
3:12—A strip forces a three and out and then a shanked Brooks punt gives the Rams a golden opportunity to widen their lead. Again, it's getting late early.
FG Brown 44
Rams 16, Redskins 7
It's not desperation time, but the Redskins need, say, a first down or two. The offense has been sluggish ever since that fumble by Kendall and they just can't seem to shake it. Somebody—say Santana Moss, who has two catches for 22 yards—needs to make a play.
14:00—Zorn has not abandoned the run and it is serving the team well as Portis is banging for some good yardage and a 23-yard pass to Randle El off of play action has the Redskins on the move. We've seen this before, though, and they have to finish the drive.
12:41—And a first-down false start doesn't help matters any. Betts goes for three and then Campbell takes a five-yard sack. There is no margin for error for this group today.
FG Suisham 38
Rams 16, Redskins 10
Well, better than the last eight drives or so have ended. There is plenty of time and the Redskins need just one touchdown. Just one touchdown.
10:39—If Suisham doesn't lead the league in kickoffs out of bounds, he leads the league in ill-timed kickoffs out of bounds. His ability to do that at just the wrong time is uncanny.
8:53—The Redskins may just have received a break that is the equivalent of the 12 men on the field against Dallas. An illegal formation negates a scramble by Bulger to convert a third and 10. The retry on third and 15 is incomplete and the Rams will punt. Instead of Rams ball with a first down at midfield, the Redskins are in decent shape at about their own 25 after the punt.
5:50—Again, Zorn is sticking with the run and, again, it's serving him well. Portis popped a 29-yarder and the Redskins are on the move.
5:27—And again the Redskins will have to overcome a first and 15 after a first-down penalty. They haven't been able to do this all day and it looks like now is no exception.
4:00—This time the Skins do overcome it as Campbell hits ARE on the move for 29 yards and a first and goal at the two. Actually, it may turn out to be good that he didn't get into the end zone as it allows the Redskins to burn off some more clock.
Portis 2 run (Suisham kick)
Redskins 17, Rams 16
Go back to the illegal formation flag when the Rams had the ball. That was the turning point.
3:40—All the Rams need is a field goal and Brown can bomb them from long distance. It doesn't look like a prevent setup, the Redskins can't afford to give them much yardage.
2:00—Bulger throws a bullet to convert third and two. They're about 20 yards away from field goal range for Brown. Someone needs to make a play.
1:45—Horton low and Rocky high for a big stop on second and ten. Two more plays.
Probably the dagger. Bulger to Avery for 43 yards and they're in easy FG range. It will take a miracle.
Josh Brown missed a potential game-winner from about the same spot on the same end of the field for Seattle in 2005.
Some help, maybe. A 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct pushes it back to something near a 50-yard try. We will see.
FG Brown 49 yards
Rams 19, Redskins 17