|Battered but winning: Redskins off to 2-0 start|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 18 September 2007 12:53|
Still, considering where they were a year ago - and the injuries they've already suffered in the first two weeks of the season - the undefeated record feels very, very good.
``With this team, it's just so much better than last year,'' receiver Antwaan Randle El said Tuesday, ``in terms of just being together and understanding what it's all about.''
Thomas can spend his rehabilitation time with his playing partner on the field, right tackle Jon Jansen, who arrived at Redskins Park on Tuesday with a funky little scooter to support the surgically repaired ankle that was hurt in the season opener. Instead of Jansen and Thomas, recycled veterans Todd Wade and Jason Fabini will now have to anchor the right side.
``That's a big blow when you lose Jon and Randy,'' Fabini said. ``Randy is the heart and soul of the team, an emotional guy. We've got big shoes to fill.''
The Redskins have narrow wins over the Dolphins and Eagles, but neither opponent put up much of a quality fight. Miami's Trent Green looked his age, and Donovan McNabb was inaccurate and limited by the aftereffects of knee surgery. Still, a victory over the Eagles on the road in prime time is worth a feather in the cap, and it's worth noting that Washington has allowed only one touchdown in the first two games - something the franchise last accomplished when George Allen was coach in 1975.
The last time before that? Go back to 1943.
``The whole defense has a different attitude,'' said linebacker Marcus Washington, stating the obvious after the defense ranked No. 31st in last year's 5-11 season. ``And that's just playing for each other. Nobody's trying to do too much.''
The linebackers are all over the place, and first-round draft pick LaRon Landry has literally been an instant impact player. The rookie safety jarred the ball from receiver Kevin Curtis' hands on fourth down when the Eagles were threatening to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Opponents have converted only eight of 29 third downs.
Offensively, Jason Campbell's numbers aren't the greatest, but he is keeping drives alive by excelling on third downs. His toss to backup tight end Todd Yoder after getting flushed out of the pocket on third-and-10 in the fourth quarter was the kind of play a young quarterback needs to make. He was sacked only once, despite playing behind the makeshift line, but he failed to seal the victory when he missed Santana Moss wide open deep over the middle late in the game.
``The only thing I'm sick about right now,'' Campbell said, ``is that Santana pass.''
Up next, the Redskins have the New York Giants, Detroit, Green Bay and Arizona before hitting the tough part of the schedule. Should they continue to win, the sequence that might best epitomize their recovery came just before halftime Monday night, when they snatched the go-ahead score from the jaws of self-inflicted chaos.
No timeouts. Big play sets up first-and-goal at the 1. Campbell spikes the ball. Confusion leads to a delay of game. Fabini false start. Field goal team comes onto the field, but the Eagles call timeout to freeze the kicker. Offense goes back onto the field. Another Fabini false start.
``I was mad,'' Fabini said.
So what happens next? On second-and-goal from the 16 with 14 seconds left, Campbell hits tight end Chris Cooley in the end zone with a perfect throw. Touchdown. Redskins head to the locker room with a 10-6 lead.
``I was one of the happiest guys in the stadium,'' Fabini said. ``Obvious I was excited, relieved, because I was the goat down there.''
Said coach Joe Gibbs: ``Jason really made a statement there. That took a lot of poise.''