A much needed win<BR> in Washington

The linemen paused long enough to hear the play called, after spending time exhorting one another and shouting out their wishes to anyone who would listen. Steve Spurrier couldn't hear them, but he saw what they were doing. And he kept asking them to do it. It was an unusual move for Spurrier. It turned into an unusual game for the Redskins: they ran and they won. Go figure.

Washington received 100-yard rushing days from Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson, powering the host Redskins to a 26-10 victory over expansion Houston.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak and at least signalled some positives for the future at running back. With Stephen Davis' future uncertain, Washington must find out what kind of running game it has. On Sunday, the Redskins had a productive one.

Both runners carried 20 times, with Betts gaining 116 yards and Watson adding 110. Washington averaged 5.4 yards per carry.

''Our offensive line was opening up holes so big that sometimes we weren't even getting touched,'' Betts said.

The running game did what it was supposed to do: control the game. Washington held the ball for 36 minutes, 58 seconds and outgained Houston, 437-166.

''That's what I call ball control and keeping your defense fresh,'' said Redskins end Bruce Smith, who had two sacks and now is four shy of tying Reggie White for the all-time lead.

But it was easy for Spurrier to call the running plays since it was working. He also left impressed with his young runners.

''Ladell and Kenny run hard,'' he said. ''It's good to see those guys break some tackles and keep their legs working.''

And that's all anyone wanted to see this season. In the huddle, Redskins guard Tre Johnson said players were saying, ''Come on, dial it up again and let's go!''

''Especially after the production we were getting,'' Johnson said. ''You'd get up from a block and see Kenny almost break it and we're like, 'Dial it up again.' You don't mind being tired in that situation.''

The passing game helped a little, too, though rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey completed just 14 of 32 passes. Still, those completion accounted for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

But when it mattered most Washington ran the ball. Houston cut the lead to 23-10 after Jimmy McClain blocked a punt and Kevin Williams recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown with 9 minutes, 42 seconds left in the game.

The Redskins answered with a 6:39 drive capped by a 23-yard Jose Cortez field goal. All 11 plays were runs.

''That's clutch, man,'' Johnson said. ''That's love right there. Seven minutes when you need it, that inspires a lot of confidence in everyone.''

''They didn't show us anything we hadn't seen,'' Houston defensive end Gary Walker said. ''I didn't think it was going to be as much power football as it was. They just ran it up in there and outplayed us.''

Betts scored on a three-yard run with 14:16 left in the game for a 23-3 lead.

The Redskins slowly built their lead in the first half, taking advantage of a Houston offense that will take a few years to mature.

Washington took a 16-3 lead thanks to two touchdowns and a safety.Ramsey fooled Houston linebacker Jay Foreman on a play-action fake, allowing fullback Rock Cartwright to get wide open in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass and 7-3 lead.

After a safety--when Houston's Billy Miller was called for holding in the end zone on a punt--the Redskins scored another touchdown.

With 1:09 left in the first half, receiver Derrius Thompson completed an 80-yard drive when he reached high to grab a pass inside the 10 and ran in untouched.

The Texans had taken a 3-0 lead on their second possession when Kris Brown made a 46-yard field goal. But the Texans' offense, ranked last in almost every major category, averaged just 2.9 yards per play--almost half what Washington averaged.

''If people thought we would lay down and just coast the rest of the way, I hope we answered that today,'' Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington said. ''Sometimes there's more at stake than just the playoffs. We're not giving up. I hope it's the start of a streak.''

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