A week after a dominating performance in Miami, the Redskins were soundly beaten in St. Louis on Friday night, falling to the Rams 28-3. The loss dropped the Redskins' preseason record to 2-2.
The Rams, coming off a 24-0 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football just five days earlier, seemed to have added incentive to perform well in front of their home crowd at the Edward Jones Dome.
"That was a very dominating performance by the Rams," head coach Joe Gibbs said in his post-game press conference. "It just wasn't us. It wasn't Redskins football. The Rams dominated every portion of the game."
The Redskins were out-gained in total yardage by 435 to 205 and in first downs by 27 to 10. Rams' wide receiver Torry Holt was the offensive star of the first half, recording seven catches for 143 yards. In the second half, rookie tailback Steven Jackson led the Rams with strong running, recording 25 carries for 125 yards and one touchdown.
For the Redskins, there were few highlights on either side of the ball.
Patrick Ramsey started his second game of the preseason, as Gibbs continued to alternate his starting quarterbacks.
Ramsey finished the game with 5-of-10 completions for 81 yards and one interception. He started the game off strong, leading the Redskins on an 11-play, 62-yard drive in the opening series. Ramsey completed 2-of-3 passes for 24 yards on the drive and nearly connected with James Thrash on a touchdown, but the ball was just beyond Thrash's reach.
Ramsey and the Redskins had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by John Hall and a 3-0 lead. It turned out to be the Redskins' only score of the game.
Brunell replaced Ramsey midway through the quarter, but he was not able to get the offense untracked either. Brunell was 5-of-8 for 28 yards in the quarter before being replaced by Tim Hasselbeck at the start of the fourth quarter.
"Offensively we didn't move the ball like we did last week, so it was certainly a step back," Ramsey said. "There were some things that weren't there at times and there were some throws I could have made better. But I felt pretty comfortable back there."
Asked who would start next Friday's game against the Atlanta Falcons at FedExField, Gibbs said: "Right now we're scheduled to start Mark."
Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts shared rushing duties on the Redskins' first drive, combining on seven rushes for 28 yards. Both runners left the game after that opening drive. Betts was making his preseason debut after battling through a hamstring injury during training camp.
Sultan McCullough led the Redskins in rushing with six carries for 18 yards. He also logged four catches for 23 yards.
Defensively, the Redskins' first-team defense kept the Rams' high-powered offense off the scoreboard in the first quarter. In the second quarter, assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams removed his starters on the defensive line to get a look at some young players.
The linemen were unable to generate much pressure on Rams' quarterbacks Marc Bulger and Chris Chandler, both of whom threw touchdown passes.
Sean Taylor recorded his third interception of preseason, leaping in front of a Chandler pass for Holt at the goal line. Renaldo Wynn recorded a first quarter sack of Bulger. And Matt Bowen led the defense with five tackles.
Gibbs admitted that the defense had difficulty defending the speed of the Rams.
"They're very fast," he said. "We knew coming in that they have a very speedy group of receivers and we felt like this was going to be a big test for us because they are so fast. Their whole team, when you look at it, even their defense and special teams are extremely quick. I think the Rams have done a good job of getting a lot of speed at receiver. We had trouble matching up against it."
One pivotal sequence in the second quarter seemed to further shift the game's momentum toward the Rams' sideline.
Down 7-3, Ramsey lofted a perfect pass to second-year wide receiver Taylor Jacobs, who caught the ball in stride. Just as Jacobs was about to be hauled down, cornerback Kevin Garrett poked the ball loose. Safety Aeneas Williams recovered.
Two plays later, Chandler connected with Holt on a 58-yard pass. Holt, who was a step ahead of Fred Smoot, was stopped at the 1-yard line. On the next play, Chandler dived over center Andy McCollum for the touchdown and a commanding 14-3 advantage.
The Rams never looked back, controlling the game clock throughout the second half thanks to Jackson's sturdy running. Chandler capped off the scoring with a 35-yard pass to wide receivers Shaun McDonald, who outraced Ade Jimoh and Ralph Brown into the end zone.
Gibbs said he hoped the team would learn from the defeat.
"For all of us, we have to realize that if we don't play tough, hard-nosed, smart Redskins football, there's a chance we can have this [kind of loss] happen to us again," he said. "Hopefully, it'll be a lesson for all of us."
Prior to the game, it was announced that Randy Thomas would miss the game due to a mild neck strain. Team officials also did not want to risk Thomas aggravating his knees on the Astroturf field at the Edward Jones Dome.
Three defensive starters--linebackers LaVar Arrington and Mike Barrow, defensive lineman Phillip Daniels--were among seven players who did not make the trip to St. Louis because of injuries. Arrington and Barrow were nursing injuries, while Daniels had an abdominal strain.
Cornerback Walt Harris also did not make the trip. After missing most of training camp with tendinitis in his left knee, Harris is now sidelined with a calf injury.
Also not making the trip to St. Louis due to injury are the following: tight end Fred Baxter (knee), linebacker Chris Clemons (hamstring) and offensive lineman Dwayne Morgan (knee).