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Week 3: Rams 30, Redskins 16

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Gameday Graphic for Game on 9/26/2010

ST. LOUIS – Meet the Odd Couple.

Yeah, the Redskins offense and the Redskins defense.

One can't stay on the field. One can't get off the field.

One can't assemble or finish a drive, the other can't stop one.

Felix and Oscar took their act on the road and it bombed. The St. Louis Rams, who had lost 14 consecutive games in a row at home, handed the Redskins a most embarrassing beating. Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford picked up his first professional victory, facing little pressure and coverage schemes a toddler could read.

Rams 30, Redskins 16.

Felix and Oscar. Toss in the special teams and it becomes Moe, Larry and Curly.

Before this debacle began, Redskins punter Josh Bidwell injured himself during warmups, throwing into disarray a part of the special teams already a bit short of its elite marksmen's badge.

Bidwell's absence forced kicker Graham Gano to double as the punter (does this sound at all like last year?) and tight end Chris Cooley to warm up as the possible holder.

Hardly harbingers of great things to come, eh?

The Redskins continued to turn special teams into science fiction. Their offense can't convert a third down and their defense never met a third-down play it could stop. Imagine falling to a team that last won at home in 2008.

That should only be the province of a dirty mind, but this one had the look of the loss to the Detroit Lions 364 days ago. You remember that one, with the rookie quarterback who had been the overall No. 1 pick, no victories to show for it yet, moribund franchise. Waiting for that one brief, shining moment.

Thank the Redskins for spreading the joy.

Rams 30, Redskins 16. Let that sink in for a moment. The Rams, beaten 44 times in their previous 50 games. The Rams. Even after losing Steven Jackson to a groin injury, the Rams ground it out and picked away, squandered a lead and then rebuilt it.

The Redskins opened the game with Graham Gano bouncing the kickoff out of bounds, putting the Rams at their own 40-yard line. Seven plays later they had crossed the Redskins' goal line, the last 42 yards (thought it seemed like 70) covered by Steven Jackson in a right-to-left sprint.

Free safety Kareem Moore, who had missed the first two games, missed the first tackle as well. Jackson broke another and the rest of the defenders had by then overpursued and had no angle to corral Jackson.

The Rams got the ball three plays later, when a big hit on Santana Moss caused the ball to burp free and into the arms of safety James Butler, who returned it 46 yards to the Redskins 3. Bradford passed three yards to tight end Daniel Fells, a third-stringer subbing due to numerous injuries, for a 14-0 lead.

Life could have become even more treacherous for the Redskins after the Rams blocked Gano's first punt try. Moore intercepted on the next play, ruining the chance for the Rams to score in one quarter more points than they'd managed in either of their previous games.

The Redskins (1-2) finally sent some juice to the scoreboard with Gano's 29-yard field goal. They made it 14-10 after Lorenzo Alexander recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, setting up Donovan McNabb's 21-yard touchdown pass to Moss.

Then it was back to blackouts in the red zone. Despite a 36-yard run by Ryan Torain, activated from the practice squad this week, and a 26-yard gallop by McNabb, the Redskins wound up stalling at the Rams 6 and kicking yet another field goal.

The 14-13 score held up when Phillip Daniels, looking lighter on his feet than a prima ballerina, skipped between two linemen and blocked a 21-yard field goal try with 25 seconds remaining in the first half.

Maybe the Redskins took some kind of weird pleasure in watching the injured Bidwell squat and hold for kicks. Once again, at the outset of the third quarter, they drove to the Rams 2 and again failed to get in. Gano kicked a 21-yard field goal and the Redskins, at 16-14, had their first lead of the day.

Seeing any disturbing patterns? Want to see more?

When the Rams (1-2) went ahead 21-16 midway through the third quarter, they did it by converting a pair of third downs to extend a 12-play drive.

The Redskins defense becomes its own enemy when it doesn't get off the field. On that drive, the Redskins had the Rams in a second and 15 that became a third and 10 and they allowed them to convert. When they got a stop on a third down, they succumbed on fourth down.

Nor did the Redskins stretch their own drives. Once in 10 tries did they successfully turn a third down into a first down.

The defense? Yikes. On the drive on which the Rams took the lead, they used 12 plays to do it. When Josh Brown kicked his 30-yard field goal for a 24-16 lead, the Rams ran 11 plays to set him up.

The Redskins held the football for 25 minutes, 10 seconds. The Rams owned it for 34:50.

The Redskins defenders will need lint rollers to get the turf off their tongues.

And to scrub the bitter taste of failure from their mouths.


PRE-GAME COVERAGE

The Redskins' first road trip of 2010 is to St. Louis where they take on the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff is 4:05 p.m. ET.

The Edward Jones Dome has an artificial surface. The stadium seats 66,965.

Last year, the Redskins were 1-7 in road games and 0-2 in dome games. The Redskins last win in a dome stadium was Oct. 26, 2008, in a 25-17 win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

The Redskins are coming off a 13-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 and a 30-27 loss to the Houston Texans in Week 2.

The Rams lost to the Arizona Cardinals 17-13 in Week 1 and the Oakland Raiders 16-14 in Week 2.

It's the third time in the last three years and fourth time since 2006 that the Redskins and Rams have played each other.

The Redskins-Rams game will be televised to a regional audience on FOX. Dick Stockton calls the play-by-play and Charles Davis and Jim Mora provide color commentary.

On radio, the game will be broadcast locally on the Redskins Radio Network. Larry Michael calls the play-by-play with former Redskins and Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff adding color commentary. Former Redskin Rick 'Doc' Walker reports from the sidelines.


PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

OFFENSE
Pos. Redskins Rams
WR 89 Santana Moss 19 Laurent Robinson
LT 71 Trent Williams 76 Rodger Saffold
LG 66 Derrick Dockery 73 Jacob Bell
C 61 Casey Rabach 60 Jason Brown
RG 75 Artis Hicks 73 Adam Goldberg
RT 77 Jammal Brown 77 Jason Smith
TE 47 Chris Cooley 47 Billy Bajema
WR 84 Joey Galloway 16 Danny Amendola
QB 5 Donovan McNabb 8 Sam Bradford
FB 45 Mike Sellers 44 Mike Karney
RB 26 Clinton Portis 39 Steven Jackson
DEFENSE
Pos. Redskins Rams
DE 94 Adam Carriker 72 Chris Long
NT/DE 96 Ma'ake Kemoeatu 98 Fred Robbins
DE/DT 64 Kedric Golston 71 Gary Gibson
LB/DE 99 Andre Carter 96 James Hall
LB 59 London Fletcher 53 Na'ill Diggs
LB 52 Rocky McIntosh 55 James Laurinaitis
LB 98 Brian Orakpo 59 Larry Grant
CB 23 DeAngelo Hall 24 Ron Bartell
CB 22 Carlos Rogers 31 Justin King
SS 30 LaRon Landry 43 Craig Dahl
FS 37 Reed Doughty 21 O. Atogwe
SPECIAL TEAMS
Pos. Redskins Rams
P 6 Josh Bidwell 5 Donnie Jones
K 4 Graham Gano 3 Josh Brown
H 6 Josh Bidwell 5 Donnie Jones
LS 57 Nick Sundberg 45 Chris Massey
KOR 11 Devin Thomas 81 Mardy Gilyard
PR 31 Phillip Buchanon 17 Danny Amendola


SERIES HISTORY

Sunday's Redskins-Rams game marks the 35th meeting between the two clubs. The Redskins have played the Rams throughout that organization's pro football tenure in Cleveland, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

Washington holds a 21-8-1 advantage in the regular season series, dating back to a 16-7 victory for Washington over the Cleveland Rams on November 21, 1937.

The Redskins have won nine of the last 14 meetings, including a 9-7 win over the Rams at FedExField in 2009.

In last year's contest, the Redskins won on the strength of a dominant defense and three Shaun Suisham field goals from 21, 28 and 23 yards.

The offense compiled 362 total yards and 125 rushing yards, but Jason Campbell and company stalled in the red zone. The defense yielded just 245 total yards and 119 passing yards against the Rams.

The Redskins and Rams have met four times in the postseason, once when the Rams played in Cleveland and three times when they were in Los Angeles. The clubs have split their four playoff encounters.

In 1945, Washington faced off against the Rams in the NFL Championship in Cleveland. Playing in sub-zero temperatures, the Rams fended off the Redskins and won 15-14.

Joe Gibbs' Redskins played the Rams twice in the playoffs during the 1980s. On Jan. 1, 1983, the Redskins manhandled the Rams 51-7 at RFK Stadium. On Dec. 28, 1986, the Redskins again defeated the Rams 19-7 at RFK Stadium.

The other playoff game between the Redskins and Rams was on Dec. 22, 1974, when Los Angeles defeated the Redskins 19-10 at the Rose Bowl.


TALE OF THE TAPE

 </tbody>

REDSKINS 2010 RANKINGS
Offense Rank Yards/Game
Total Offense 11 335.5
Rushing Offense 31 53.5
Passing Offense 7 282.0
Defense Rank Yards/Game
Total Defense 32 453.0
Rushing Defense 8 80.5
Passing Defense 31 372.5

 </tbody>

RAMS 2010 RANKINGS
Offense Rank Yards/Game
Total Offense 25 267.5
Rushing Offense 24 80.0
Passing Offense 23 186.5
Defense Rank Yards/Game
Total Defense 28 391.0
Rushing Defense 30 142.5
Passing Defense 24 248.5


FAMILIAR FACES ON THE RAMS

Head coach Steve Spagnuolo served as a Redskins player personnel intern in 1983.

General Manager Billy Devaney worked as a scout for the Redskins from 1983-1990. He worked alongside Joe Gibbs and Bobby Beathard during that time.

Scout Russ Bolingerserved as a Redskins scout from 2005-09.


REDSKINS-RAMS NEWS & NOTES

-- Fletcher And the Rams

Fletcher played for the Rams from 1998-2001 and emerged as a standout at middle linebacker for the so-called "Greatest Show on Turf" in St. Louis.

He was the Rams' Rookie of the Year in 1998. A year later, he started for the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, a game they won 23-16 over the Tennessee Titans.

Fletcher played four seasons with the Rams before moving on to Buffalo in 2002. He played for the Bills for five seasons and then signed with the Redskins as an unrestricted free agent in 2007.

Asked to reflect on his tenure with the Rams, Fletcher said the Super Bowl season remains a "special memory."

"We had a great group of guys," he said. "What we were able to accomplish, in a three-year run, was phenomenal. We played an exciting brand of football. We loved playing with each other and we loved coming to work. I still have the memories and I still think about it from time to time."

Heading into the Rams game, Fletcher has posted 153 consecutive starts, a figure which ranks fourth among active players. (Brett Favre is at 287, Peyton Manning is at 194 and Ronde Barber is at 169.)

Fletcher has not missed a game since entering the league as an undrafted rookie free agent with the St. Louis Rams in 1998. His 193 consective games streak is tied for second among active players behind Minnesota's Brett Favre (287).

-- How the Redskins' 53-Man Roster Was Built

The Redskins have 16 players on the roster that the team drafted, including 2010 first-round pick Trent Williams and 2009 supplemental draft pick Jeremy Jarmon.

Mike Sellers is the longest-tenured Redskins. He had a stint with the Redskins in 1998-2000 and rejoined the team in 2004.

Washington has used unrestricted free agency to acquire 26 players, including Casey Rabach in 2005, Andre Carter in 2006, London Fletcher in 2007, DeAngelo Hall in 2008, Albert Haynesworth in 2009 and Ma'ake Kemoeatu in 2010.

Nine Redskins players were acquired as undrafted rookie free agents. This group includes offensive linemen Stephon Heyer and cornerback Byron Westbrook, all local products.

The team has acquired six players via trade: Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Donovan McNabb, Adam Carriker, Jammal Brown and John Beck.

-- First-Year Redskins Head Coaches

Entering Sunday's game vs. St. Louis, Mike Shanahan is 1-1 in his first season as Redskins head coach.

Looking back at Redskins head coaches in their first season, five have gone on to have winning seasons (excluding Dick Todd, who was 5-4 in taking over three games into the 1951 season.)

Twelve first-year head coaches suffered losing campaigns, including Joe Gibbs's return in 2004. Additionally Herman Ball coached the final seven games in 1949 and finished 1-4, while Terry Robiskie finished 1-2 while coaching the last three games of 2000.

Eight first-year head coaches ended their seasons with a .500 record, including Jim Zorn in 2008.

-- Septembers to Remember

In the last decade, the Redskins have posted a 16-18 record in the month of September.

That mark does not crack the top 15 opening-month records among NFL teams.

New Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, however, was a remarkable 21-10 in September games as head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2000-08. (Shanahan did not coach in 2009.)

The Indianapolis Colts were a league-best 26-6 in Septembers from 2000-09.

The New York Giants led the NFC with a 22-11 mark in September games during that same span.

-- Redskins' Strenth of Schedule

The Redskins have the NFL's eighth toughest schedule in 2010, according to the NFL.

The Redskins' opponents this season produced a 134-122 record last year, a .523 winning percentage.

The Houston Texans (.547), Tennessee Titans (.547), Dallas Cowboys (.543), Cincinnati Bengals (.539), Jacksonville Jaguars (.535), New England Patriots (.531) and New York Giants (.527) have tougher schedules.

The Redskins play 11 games against teams who finished .500 or better last year. They play seven games against 2009 playoff opponents.

-- Cooley Coming On

Chris Cooley could emerge as the greatest Redskins tight end in franchise history this year.

Cooley has posted 349 receptions for 3,869 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Among tight ends, he ranks second all-time in all three categories in franchise history behind Jerry Smith, whose 13-year career is twice that of Cooley. Smith logged 421 career receptions for 5,496 yards and 60 touchdowns.

Cooley already holds the Redskins record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season with 83 in 2008.

-- Haslett Returns to St. Louis

Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was the interim head coach of the St. Louis Rams in 2008.

He replaced Scott Linehan, who was fired after five games, and coached the Rams the final 11 weeks.

Haslett was initially hired as Rams defensive coordinator. He served in that role in 2006-07 and the first five games of 2008.

Haslett's first game as Rams head coach was against the Redskins. The Rams were 0-5 at the time, but they upset the Redskins at FedExField by a 19-17 score.

-- Coming a 'Long' Way

St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long played college football at the University of Virginia. He was the Rams' first-round draft pick (second overall) in 2008.

Long has had some great tutors in his career, including his father Howie, a Hall of Fame defensive lineman. (Howie Long had five sacks in a game against the Redskins on Oct. 2, 1083.)

Chris Long has practiced against some top offensive tackles while at the University of Virginia, including D'Brickashaw Ferguson (New York Jets), Branden Albert (Kansas City Chiefs) and Eugene Monroe (Jacksonville Jaguars). All of them were first-round picks.

-- Bartell a Local Product

St. Louis Rams cornerback Ron Bartell played college football at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Bartell visited Redskins Park in a pre-draft Rookie Camp in April 2005.

He was eventually selected by the Rams in the second round (50th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft.

-- Shanahan's Moving Up

With the Redskins' Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Mike Shanahan recorded his 155th career win (regular season and postseason) as a head coach.

Shanahan's career record is 155-104. That win total is 16th best among all-time NFL head coaches.

He needs six wins to surpass Bill Cowher, who has a 166-99-1 record.

-- On the Road Again

The Redskins will travel 11,124 miles in 2010, the 25th most in the NFL. For the second year in a row, they have the shortest travel schedule in the NFC East.

The San Francisco 49ers travel 35,219 miles, most in the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals travel 6,688 miles, least in the NFL.

The total distance traveled by all NFL teams is 507,050 miles. This is 71,862 fewer miles than 2009, when teams traveled a total of 578,912 miles.

-- What's Next?

The Redskins to Philadelphia for an NFC East clash against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Kickoff is 4:05 p.m. ET.

It's Donovan McNabb return to the city where he played the first 11 years of his career before the April 4 trade to the Redskins.

The Redskins were swept by the Eagles last year, including 27-24 at Lincoln Financial Field.

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