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Redskins' Win Can Be Placed in the Ex-Files

Hall is delighted after his third field goal, a 33-yarder with five seconds left, beats the Jets, his former team, 16-13, in season opener.

September 05, 2003|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

LANDOVER, Md. — Washington Redskin kicker John Hall, cast aside by the New York Jets after last season, finished every day of training camp this summer with a bit of fantasy football.

He would practice dozens of kicks, then save a few at the end to exact some imaginary vengeance.

"I'd say, 'All right, this is to beat the Jets,' " Hall said. "Every day it was the Jets."

Thursday, his dream scenario came true. He kicked a 33-yard field goal with five seconds remaining, lifting the Redskins to a 16-13 victory over the Jets in the NFL season opener at FedEx Field.

"We knew he was going to knock that kick through," said Redskin quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who played a strong first half and made a clutch play on the final drive with a 24-yard scramble that set up the winning field goal.

The Jets could have re-signed Hall, just as they could have dipped deeper in their pockets to try to keep receiver Laveranues Coles, guard Randy Thomas and return man Chad Morton, all of whom were lured away by the Redskins. For those players, revenge was just as sweet.

"We're probably going to celebrate this weekend," said Thomas, breaking into a wide smile. "[The Jets] might have a bitter taste in their mouths. We came out on top, and that's the price you pay."

Coles finished with five catches for 106 yards -- all in the first half -- and didn't stick around at midfield to celebrate with his new teammates or gauge the reaction of his old ones. He bolted for the end zone and jumped into the waiting arms of a group of fans, executing his first FedEx Flop.

"It just goes to show, sometimes the grass is greener on the other side," Coles said.

Thomas said his only disappointment of the night came after the game, when none of his former coaches crossed the field to greet him.

"None of them talked to us after the game," he said. "But it's all over. No hard feelings."

The Jets, led by 39-year-old quarterback Vinny Testaverde, never got their offense on track against a surprisingly stout Washington defense. Still, the visitors never trailed by more than six points and made two second-half field goals to forge a tie at 13 with 8:13 to play.

The Jets had one possession after tying the score and failed to get a first down. On third-and-one at the Jet 31, Lamont Jordan was stuffed for a four-yard loss by Redskin linebacker Jeremiah Trotter in what proved to be the game's pivotal defensive play.

"When you get it tied up like that, you hope you're the team to make the play at the end, but we couldn't quite do that," said Jet Coach Herman Edwards, whose team advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season. "For the most part, we kept competing."

It has been a tumultuous month for the Jets, who two weeks ago lost starting quarterback Chad Pennington to a broken and dislocated left wrist. He watched from the sideline in a cast, encouraging Testaverde, the oldest quarterback to open an NFL season since Warren Moon, 41, with the Seattle Seahawks in 1998.

Testaverde, benched in favor of Pennington early last season, looked rusty and tentative Thursday, completing 15 of 24 passes for 105 yards. Most of those throws were to underneath receivers, even though Jet coaches have said Testaverde's arm is as strong as it has ever been.

Ramsey was the quarterback who looked like the veteran -- at least in the first half. In his first two quarters, he completed 12 of 13 passes for 156 yards with a four-yard touchdown toss to Darnerien McCants. Once, midway through the second quarter, Ramsey ducked under the arms of linebacker Mo Lewis, and connected with Coles for a 48-yard gain.

The sold-out crowd of 85,420 loved that, of course, and cheered Coles later when he hunkered low after a catch, lifted his arms at his sides, and -- the way receiver Andre Rison used to -- shot imaginary Spider-man webs out of his wrists.

But the game wasn't a start-to-finish masterpiece for Ramsey. He was charged with two turnovers in the second half -- a fumble and an interception -- and was sacked four times.

The turnovers were the main reason the Redskins resorted to the run in the second half, an uncharacteristic move by pass-happy Coach Steve Spurrier.

"Our defense was playing so well, we just put it on the ground," he said.

The Jets were limited to 158 yards, only 62 of which came in the second half. They had 11 first downs to Washington's 17, made only 25% of their third-down attempts (three of 12), and held the ball almost 10 minutes less than the Redskins.

"We showed our character today," Washington cornerback Fred Smoot said. "We were very focused on defense and we made it happen."

That was good enough for Spurrier, who made the scoreboard light up at Florida but is slowly getting accustomed to the low-scoring NFL life.

"Sixteen-thirteen's better than losing," the coach said. "That's for dang sure."

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