December 23, 2002
‘Skins Sack Sad-Sack Texans
by Ric Sweeney
The Texans gave the previously limp Washington Redskin offense an early Christmas present Sunday: an uncharacteristically poor defensive showing.
The Redskins, who were starting a rookie quarterback and a back-up running back, torched Houston’s 13th-ranked defense, 26-10, dropping the Texans to 4-11 on the year.
Ledell Betts and Kenny Watson, filling in for the injured Stephen Davis, rushed for 116 and 110 yards respectively, while rookie QB Patrick Ramsey, picked 30 slots behind the Texans’ rookie quarterback, David Carr, threw two touchdown passes, the first of which went to Rock Cartwright from 12-yards out with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
Cartwright’s score came after Houston grabbed an early 3-0 lead on a 46-yard field goal from Kris Brown, set up by the Texans’ special teams. Avion Black, subbing for the injured Jermaine Lewis, returned Washington’s first punt of the game 16 yards to the Redskins’ 39. On the drive, which netted nine yards, Carr was sacked for the 71st time this year.
By the second quarter, Houston’s offense was clicking on all cylinders, which is to say, it was self-imploding. Two false starts and a fumbled snap (the second of the game) backed the Texans up to their own four, forcing Chad Stanley to punt from the back of his own end zone. TE Billy Miller, who was beaten on the play, was flagged for holding in his own end zone, which resulted in a safety, pushing Washington’s lead to six, 9-3, with 13:31 left in the half. Washington had a chance to increase their lead on the subsequent drive, but Jose Cortez missed a 48-yard field goal.
Houston continued to dodge bullets the rest of the afternoon. Carr was picked off by David Terrell, but Washington could not take advantage and were forced to bring on Craig Jarrett, who punted just 10 yards, the first of two such efforts on the afternoon. But Houston was unable to move the football and they were forced to punt as well, and Washington’s offense responded.
Ramsey hit on 3-of-4 passes, including a 33-yarder to Rod Gardner, before hooking up with Derrius Thompson from 13 yards out to give Washington the 16-3 halftime lead.
Washington again missed an opportunity to increase their lead when Cortez missed his second field goal on the day early in the third quarter. They missed an even bigger opportunity when Carr had the ball stripped at the end of an 11-yard scramble, which LB LaVar Arrington recovered. But in a Texan-like display, the Redskins committed two penalties on the drive, forcing them into a 3rd-and-31.
The teams continued to exchange punts until Washington converted two big third downs, leading to a 3-yard score from Betts to move Washington comfortably ahead, 23-3 with 14:20 left in the game. But then things took a bit of a turn, and for a brief moment, Houston got back into the game.
Jarrett again punted 10 yards, as Houston took control of the field position battle. Stanley’s ensuing punt pinned Washington at their 26. After a three-and-out, Jimmy McClain blocked Jarrett’s punt which Kevin Williams fell on in the end zone, and Houston had sliced into the Redskins’ lead, 23-10.
But Washington responded with an impressive 6:30 drive that culminated with Cortez hitting a 23-yard field goal with 2:58 left in the game, stomping out Houston’s brief flirtation with a comeback. Fittingly, on Houston’s final offensive play of the day, Carr was sacked for the 73rd time this year, setting a new NFL record.
Special Teams Avion Black did fumble again Sunday, but averaged 20 yards on four kickoff returns and his 16-yard punt return helped setup Houston’s early field goal. Kris Brown nailed his only attempt, Chad Stanley, perhaps smarting from his Pro Bowl snub, averaged 46.8 yards on six punts, including a beauty that rolled out of bounds at the Redskin 6 and, of course, Jimmy McClain blocked a punt that Kevin Williams recovered for a touchdown.
Sack #73 At long last, the sack record is Carr’s to keep. Hopefully, now that the "chase" is over, people will stop talking about it. Houston’s not a great team, but they’ve done enough positive things this year to not be defined by such a meaningless record.
Injuries Or lack thereof. We’re furiously knocking on wood, but with one week left, do you realize this team hasn’t suffered one significant injury since the start of the season? Amazing, especially when you consider the beating the offense has taken.
The Line Play For once, the Texans’ defensive line was every bit as bad as their offensive line. Two 100-yard rushers is unfathomable; that both are back-ups is unconscionable. And Houston failed to consistently pressure Ramsey, who looked flustered on those rare occasions when the Texans did get to him. As for the offensive line, their most glaring mistake remains the pre-snap penalties. RT Jimmy Herndon was flagged on the first play following a nearly three minute injury delay. How can you not know the snap count when you had three minutes to get it?
Missed Opportunities Houston moved inside Washington’s 10-yard line four times and came away with three total points. They couldn’t take advantage of back-up running backs, a rookie QB or the worst special teams in football.
Yeah, yeah, we know — his offensive line is horrible, his running game is nonexistent and his receivers can’t get open; doesn’t mean the rookie is above criticism. On Sunday, he fumbled three times (including two center snaps), missed several throws (including one to Billy Miller in which he was wide-open) and threw another interception. He’s turned the ball over 23 times this year. And he hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since, it seems like, his senior year at Fresno State.
After falling behind, 9-3, the Texans’ defense shut down Washington’s offense, holding them scoreless for nearly 15 minutes. As usual, the D was keeping their DOA offense in the game.
But as the half wound down, Washington began to drive. Betts rushed for 14 yards before Ramsey hit Gardner for 33 to give the Redskins 1st-and-10 at the Texan 13 with 1:26 remaining. On the next play, Ramsey hit Thompson, who made a wonderful catch in-between two Texan defenders and then walked into the end zone to increase Washington’s lead to 16-3 with 1:15 left in the half. Up 13 against Houston’s offense, Washington was able to ride Betts and Watson the rest of the way.
Offense Riiiiiight… the Texans average less than 3 yards a play and we’re supposed to pick out their best player? We’ll give it to Corey Bradford, who led the team with 5 catches for 43 yards. It was his most productive day in months and came against a pretty decent secondary.
Kenny Wright didn’t do a lot, stat-wise, but broke up several pass plays early. Look, it was an awful performance from the defense, too!
Final 1 2 3 4 F Texans 3 0 0 7 10 Redskins 7 9 0 10 26 PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 31 12 112 0/1 Ramsey 31 14 190 2/0 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 15 33 2.2 0 Betts 20 116 5.8 1 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bradford 5 43 8.6 0 Thompson 5 73 14.6 1
2002 Record: (10-5) 12.29.02 | 12pm
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review