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WASHINGTON 33, ATLANTA 31

Redskins Stick to Guns, Have More Fun

September 15, 2003|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — This looked more like a Steve Spurrier-coached team.

Patrick Ramsey threw the ball all over the field, Laveranues Coles had a career receiving day and the Washington Redskins rallied from a 17-point deficit to stun the Atlanta Falcons, 33-31, on Sunday.

Quite a change from Week 1, when Spurrier's "Fun 'n' Gun" offense went conservative in a 16-13 victory over the New York Jets.

"We thought the opportunity was there to throw it a little bit more," Spurrier said. "Their linebackers and safeties are very involved in stopping the run. They play up close to the line. We thought that was something we could take advantage of."

After taking a terrible beating in the first half, Ramsey threw for a career-high 356 yards and two touchdowns. Coles, shaken up early when his head rammed the leg of Falcon safety Kevin McCadam, recovered to set career highs with 11 catches for 180 yards.

Coles had the clinching touchdown on a 19-yard reception with 12:47 to go.

"Whenever things aren't going well, I want to be the guy who steps up and makes things happen," said Coles, acquired by owner Daniel Snyder during an off-season spending spree.

Washington is 2-0 for the first time since 1991, the season of its last Super Bowl championship. The Falcons (1-1) failed to give Coach Dan Reeves his 200th career victory and squandered a chance to win their first two games for the second time in 17 years.

"I guess Atlanta forgot there are four quarters in a game," Redskin safety Matt Bowen said. "Their players were talking smack and their fans were talking noise, and guess who won the game?"

The Redskin defense came up big too. Ifeanyi Ohalete set up a touchdown with a 30-yard interception return. Jessie Armstead sacked Doug Johnson in the end zone for a safety that put Washington ahead for good. And Champ Bailey held Peerless Price to two catches for 28 yards.

Ramsey was sacked five times in the first half, losing the ball a couple of times. Ed Jasper scooped up one of the fumbles at the Washington one, setting up T.J. Duckett's second touchdown of the game. Cheered on by a raucous sellout crowd, the Falcons led, 17-0, with less than two minutes gone in the second quarter.

After that, it was all Ramsey and the Redskins.

Johnson, starting again in place of the injured Michael Vick, had a terrible day against his former college coach. The two had a contentious relationship at Florida, where Spurrier benched the strong-armed quarterback several times.

Johnson looked as if he deserved to be a backup Sunday. He started five for eight for 93 yards, then completed 11 of 28 for 104 yards the rest of the way.

In the last minute of the third quarter, Armstead blew through a gaping hole and smothered Johnson in the end zone, putting Washington ahead, 26-24.

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