Two Sundays ago, the Redskins missed out on facing Terrell Owens when the mercurial wide receiver was suspended by the Philadelphia Eagles. No such luck on Sunday when the Redskins' secondary faced off against another of the game's top receivers in Randy Moss.
In the Redskins' 16-13 loss to the Raiders on Sunday at FedExField, the pass defense kept Moss in check, holding the wide receiver to just three catches for 40 yards.
However, it was Jerry Porter, a Washington, D.C., native who played at Coolidge High School, who would burn the Redskins' secondary.
Porter logged six catches for 142 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown in the third quarter that seemed to provide a spark for the Raiders' offense, which had been moribund through the first half.
Porter's touchdown came at the expense of middle linebacker Lemar Marshall. Porter lined up in the slot and raced downfield. Marshall was right with him in coverage, but Porter made an over-the-shoulder catch for the touchdown.
"It was a good play by them," Marshall said. "The quarterback threw it over the back-side shoulder and he made a good catch."
Meantime, it was cornerback Walt Harris who spent most of the afternoon covering Moss. After struggling in the Redskins' 36-35 loss at Tampa Bay in Week 10, Harris did a solid job in minimizing Moss's impact in the game.
Harris had help from Sean Taylor in the secondary throughout the game, but he was mostly one-on-one with the Raiders' wide receiver.
"[Going one-on-one] is real tough, no matter if you're the best corner in the league or the best safety in the league," Harris said. "Whenever you're in coverage and there's a wide receiver running down the field full speed, and you don't know where he's going and you're by yourself, and there's a perfect throw and a perfect catch, it's real tough to stop it and make a play."
On the first pass to Moss, Collins threw a deep pass across the middle of the field. The ball was under-thrown, though, and Taylor leaped up and appeared to catch the ball in front of Moss. Taylor could not hold on, as the ball dropped to the surface.
Later in the first half, the Raiders nearly scored a touchdown when Collins connected on a 2-yard pass to Randy Moss in the back of the end zone. But Moss appeared to push off cornerback Walt Harris to get open, and he was flagged for pass interference. Oakland had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.
Moss didn't catch his first pass until midway through the second quarter on a 10-yard out pattern against Harris.
Moss joined the Raiders last offseason after seven seasons in Minnesota and entering Sunday's game had 32 catches for 629 yards and five touchdowns. He had been slowed by groin and rib injuries this season.
The Redskins' pass defense has come under scrutiny after yielding 286 passing yards to the Raiders and 279 yards last week to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Most of the Raiders' passing yards came in the second half, when Oakland came back from a 13-3 halftime deficit.
The Redskins' pass rush also has struggled at key moments. The defense overall has 16 sacks this season, with just six coming from the defensive line. The defense was able to pressure Kerry Collins on linebacker blitzes from speedy rusher Chris Clemons, who logged a sack in the second half.
Last year, the defense recorded 40 sacks.
"[The Raiders] did a great job with their protection," defensive end Renaldo Wynn said after the game. "We were pressuring them pretty good early on, but they adjusted and double-teamed everyone out there who was rushing. They did a good job of keeping a lot of people in and max protecting. They knew we were bringing it, so they took their shots."
Added Wynn: "We just have to make sure the QB is not comfortable back there, put him under duress and keep him in the pocket."
Cornerback Carlos Rogers was not going to use the lack of a pass rush for the secondary giving up big plays.
"Pass rush and coverage go hand in hand," Rogers said. "The defensive line has to get the pass rush--without it we'll be sitting back there covering all day. But whether there's a pass rush or not, we have to do our job and make sure the receivers don't get the ball."
-- LOSING STREAK AGAINST AFC CONTINUES
The Redskins have now lost nine consecutive games to the AFC. The last time the Redskins beat an AFC team was Sept. 28, 2003. Washington topped the New England Patriots 20-17 at FedExField.
"I don't really have an answer for it," Gibbs said. "I guess you are playing real good football teams and they have had the upper hand and beat us. That is the only way I know how to analyze it. We have played some real good AFC teams this year and they came out on top. You have to give them credit."
The Redskins will have their last chance this season at ending the streak next Sunday when they host the San Diego Chargers at FedExField.
-- LOUDER & LOUDER
In the days leading up to the Raiders game, players have commented on how loud FedExField has become--and how intimidating it is for opposing teams.
Center Cory Raymer is one of only two Redskins--Ray Brown is the other--who have played in both RFK Stadium and FedExField.
"In the last couple of games, FedExField has started to feel a little bit more like RFK. RFK was a lot of fun and the atmosphere was unbelievable. The fans were right on you. Maybe it's just that there are more people [at FedExfield than RFK]. Maybe it's that there has been more to cheer about this year."
Raymer said recent games have been noticeably louder than the Redskins' home playoff game from the 1999 season.
Added quarterback Mark Brunell: "We have our fans behind us. I think they are excited about being a part of the game. They are certainly a factor."
-- NORV RETURNS
Former Redskins head coach Norv Turner admitted after the game that it was an emotional return to FedExField.
Turner coached in Washington from 1994-2000, recording a 49-59-1 record. He had only one playoff season in that span, though.
"I had seven great years here and it's great to come back," Turner said. "My biggest thing was that my kids grew up here. We have friends here. That's the emotional part of it."
Added Raiders defensive end Bobby Hamilton: "We all knew the emotion he had and how much he wanted to fight to win. That's why we gave him the game ball."
Said Collins: "Anytime you go to a place where you played or coached, it's always special to go back and get a win. He puts his heart and soul into this team, so when you have days like this, it's gratifying to see him as happy as he was after the game."
-- GANNON RETURNS
Former Redskins and Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon served as the color analyst for the CBS broadcast of Sunday's game, working alongside Dick Enberg.
Gannon is mostly known as the quarterback who led Oakland to a Super Bowl appearance in 2002, but he also started four games for the Redskins in 1993.
In an 18-year NFL career, Gannon played two seasons with the Redskins, serving under Richie Petitbon's only campaign as head coach in 1993 and Turner's first season as head coach in 1994. He played for the Raiders from 1999-2004.