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Late Stand by Defense Seals Win

September 29, 2003|From Associated Press

LANDOVER, Md. — Maybe the Washington Redskins are destined to play every game close this season.

At least they're winning most of them.

The Redskins nearly blew a 17-point lead Sunday against the injury-riddled, penalty-prone New England Patriots. A comedy of errors in the final two minutes gave their previous opponents a chance to tie before a defensive stand sealed a 20-17 victory.

"It works on my nerves bad," receiver Rod Gardner said.

"It's good to be coming out with these victories, but we need to stop cutting it close. When we've got them behind the eight-ball, we've got to go ahead and knock them out."

The Redskins (3-1) have had all four of their games decided by three points or fewer, losing only last week in overtime to the New York Giants. This one was different from the others, keyed by four turnovers by the defense and a turnover-free offense that threw just 22 passes -- the fewest in Steve Spurrier's year-and-a-quarter as coach.

Patrick Ramsey was 10 for 22 for 147 yards and threw just seven times in the second half in a game that pitted Spurrier's high-powered offense against defensive guru Bill Belichick.

"He gave us the run," receiver Laveranues Coles said. "Coach Spurrier was taking advantage of whatever he gave us, and that's what we're about."

Champ Bailey, playing with a broken wrist and a sprained shoulder, made up for a pass interference penalty with an interception and a forced fumble that Matt Bowen recovered inside New England's 10-yard line -- the defense's first fumble recovery this season.

"We've been talking about how the ball hasn't been bouncing our way lately," Bowen said. "But today it did."

The Patriots (2-2) played without nine injured opening-day starters, including three linebackers. Two offensive linemen made their first NFL starts. Brady has been nursing a sore elbow, but he said it wasn't a factor in his four picks.

"Just bad plays, man. Just bad plays," said Brady, who was 25 for 38 for 289 yards. "I have to make good decisions, good throws and give ourselves a chance to win."

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