Skins Down Bears
Todd Collins kept waiting for another chance to play in the NFL. And waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting.
Forget about the five years without throwing for a touchdown. How about the three years without so much as attempting a pass of any sort?
Collins finally was called upon Thursday night by the weary Washington Redskins, and the perennial understudy performed brilliantly. Replacing injured starter Jason Campbell, Collins tossed two TDs to lead Washington over the fading Chicago Bears 24-16, ending the Redskins' four-game losing streak.
Making it even more special for Collins and the rest of the Redskins was the context of this win, coming as it did 1 1/2 weeks after the shooting death of safety Sean Taylor, and only three days after his burial.
``We've been through a lot. We really didn't have any practice time this week, dealing with the death of a teammate and a funeral,'' said Collins, 15-for-20 for 224 yards and his first two TD throws since 2002, when he played for Kansas City.
Said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs: ``It seems like it's been forever since we won a game. This team's overcome so much. ... It's been an emotional roller coaster for us.''
While the Redskins (6-7) consider themselves very much in the playoff chase in the so-so NFC, the Bears (5-8) were ready to concede they've followed up a trip to the Super Bowl with a dud of a season.
``It's pretty much over now,'' defensive end Alex Brown said.
Campbell departed in the second quarter with a dislocated left kneecap a few plays after hurting his throwing elbow, and Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman never returned from a left knee injury on his second drive.
Campbell will have an MRI exam Friday, and the Redskins said they would wait for those results before offering any prognosis.
Asked whether Grossman will play again this season, coach Lovie Smith said, ``Don't know enough about it. You know, it didn't look good.''
Grossman's replacement, Brian Griese, threw interceptions on consecutive passes in the second quarter, both picked off by Shawn Springs. The cornerback returned the first 53 yards, setting up Collins' 21-yard touchdown pass to another backup, tight end Todd Yoder, to put Washington ahead 7-0.
``I don't know that I've ever had a better performance coming off the bench. Ever,'' Gibbs said.
Griese was 21-for-45 for 295 yards and one TD, but also raised his interception total to 12 in seven appearances this season.
Both teams had a short turnaround from games Sunday, but the Redskins' preparation was even more limited. The entire organization traveled to Florida for the funeral of Taylor, who died after being shot last week.
Coincidentally, tickets for this game, printed months ago, featured a picture of Taylor.
``We got closure on Monday, and that's one of the things that helped us,'' defensive end Phillip Daniels said. ``To get closure and move forward, that was big for us, for this team.''
One sign of moving forward: The makeshift memorial to Taylor, set up on a patch of grass outside the stadium where his number 21 was painted, is gone. Fans dropped off flowers, candles, teddy bears, homemade signs and other tokens before Sunday's game, but nothing remained in that spot Thursday, other than some piles of snow.
The temperature was 26 degrees at kickoff, and perhaps a combination of the cold and the lack of regular rest contributed to all of the injuries. Among them: Daniels (sprained knee), running back Clinton Portis (stomach illness and bruised hand), right guard Randy Thomas (elbow) and cornerback Fred Smoot (cramps) of Washington, and defensive tackle Antonio Garay (ankle) of Chicago.
Also, Redskins tight end Chris Cooley limped off to the locker room with a bruised shin but was able to return. Portis made it back, too, but was limited to 36 yards rushing on 17 carries.
There were plenty of blunders on both sides: turnovers, missed field-goal attempts, penalties. Lots of penalties, 10 in the third quarter alone.
The trouble for Campbell began when he was hit on his throwing arm by Brandon McGowan at the end of a scramble. Campbell left for one play, allowing Collins to record his first NFL completion in three years, a 5-yarder to Reche Caldwell.
Campbell returned on Washington's next possession, but lasted three plays before hurting his knee and being driven off the field on a cart. Then, right before halftime, Springs' interception set up Collins-to-Yoder - hardly a combination the Redskins would have imagined.
After all, Yoder hadn't caught a TD this season or any pass at all over the previous five games. And the 36-year-old Collins? He had a grand total of one touchdown toss over the past decade.
``I've been preparing ... for literally hundreds of games,'' Collins said. ``This was really the first time I was able to go in and get to play in a situation that really mattered.''
Notes: Bears DL Tommie Harris said he was bumped by a fan who ran onto the field. ``I didn't know whether to beat him up,'' Harris said. ... Griese's 17-yard TD pass to Bernard Berrian in the third quarter ended Washington's streak of nine quarters without allowing a touchdown.
By: Staff Writers - Email Us
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