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If It's Ramsey, Look For a Gunslinger

If ever it comes to a situation where the Redskins need to turn to Mark Brunell's backup to run their offense, they certainly don't need to panic.

In Patrick Ramsey, the Redskins have a former No. 1 draft choice and a fourth-year quarterback who has started 24 games and has shown flashes of exceptional play.

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Brunell suffered a sprained knee ligament early in the third quarter of Saturday's 35-20 win over the New York Giants and his status is day-to-day, according to team officials.

In his place, Ramsey didn't just mop up. Rather, he helped finish off an important job at FedExField.

"I never thought Mark would come out," Ramsey allowed. "He's been our iron man this year."

Next Sunday afternoon, in their regular-season finale, the Redskins have what amounts to a business trip to South Philadelphia.

As backdrop, Philadelphia that day hosts its annual celebratory (and occasionally excessive) Mummer's parade up and down city streets. As far as the game itself, Jeremiah Trotter and Jim Johnson's defense figure to be as nasty as ever in their upset bid.

Most importantly for the Redskins, if Patrick Ramsey gets the green light, there is reason to expect that he'll play well.

Last year, his first start of the season was at Philadelphia. He was 21-for-34 for 162 yards against a Super Bowl defense. Philly won that one 28-6 but the final score was misleading. It was a very close affair for three quarters.

In the 2003 game at Philadelphia, Ramsey put it up 50 times, a career-high figure. His late two-point conversion effort to Laveranues Coles sailed high and wide in a 27-25 NFC East dogfight of a game.

The Redskins have been your basic smash-mouth football team during their four-game win streak. So the run game will be an emphasis no matter if Brunell or Ramsey is in at quarterback. The passing game remains integral to Joe Gibbs' offense, however.

If it comes to a situation whereby Gibbs sends Ramsey out onto Lincoln Financial Field, Gibbs can expect a solid game out of the quarterback position as the calendar shifts to 2006.

Admittedly, Ramsey's four-year ride in the NFL has been a checkered one. He's taken his hits, both physically and emotionally. You really get the sense, though, that most of that's behind him.

On Sunday at Philadelphia, Patrick Ramsey may be called upon to do something that no one has done since Brad Johnson on Dec. 26, 1999: quarterback the Redskins into the postseason. Ramsey, at the very least, has been doing a great deal of homework.

If the start falls his way, Ramsey can respond by playing tentatively or by playing with a gunslinger's mentality. The latter, of course, is what got him to the NFL and what figures to keep him there.

"I've appreciated how Patrick has handled the situation all year," said Gibbs, who benched Ramsey in favor of Brunell before the Week 2 game against Dallas. "It says a lot about him and his character."

Against the Giants, Ramsey used that character to complete 5-of-7 passes for 104 yards and one touchdown, including the spectacular 72-yard TD pass to the spectacular Santana Moss.

Ray Brown was admirable in relief of Randy Thomas versus the Giants and now it may be Patrick Ramsey's turn to keep the momentum going in place of Brunell.

The Redskins' response? They have confidence in Ramsey, as they did last week in Brown.

Said running back Clinton Portis: "We've played with Pat, we know Pat, and he can get the job done. He takes plenty of reps in practice. With Pat back there, we're still going to go out there and execute our game plan. It'll be the same as it was with Mark."

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