|Redskins want to win for slain teammate Taylor: 'He's the 12th man on the field for us'|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 29 November 2007 11:58|
With heavy, distracted hearts, the Washington Redskins host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Unsure how they'll feel and how they'll focus, the Redskins only know they owe it to the memory of their slain former teammate to do all they can to win.
``He's always going to be there,'' defensive end Andre Carter said. ``For the defense, he's the 12th man on the field for us - in spirit. We're going to definitely go out there and win hard, and especially win for him.''
The atmosphere will be just as unsettling for the Bills. They had to study the Redskins all week, and reality hit every time No. 21 showed up on the screen. Taylor's death in Miami early Tuesday morning of a gunshot wound affected the entire NFL, and the Bills are first to say it's not the same as teammate Kevin Everett's scary spinal cord injury in September, when he was hurt making a tackle and had doctors concerned he would never walk again.
``Kevin's situation is a whole lot different than this,'' Buffalo coach Dick Jauron said. ``It was a terrible accident, but he just got better and better and continues that way. This is an awful tragedy, and it's not going to get any better.''
Basic football facts that seemed so vitally important a week ago appear mundane. A big story this week was supposed to be Redskins linebacker London Fletcher's first game against his old team, and likewise for Bills guard Derrick Dockery.
Another anticipated reunion will not occur. Taylor received much criticism for leveling Bills punter Brian Moorman in the Pro Bowl in February, a hit that looked out of place in a friendly exhibition game. Moorman, however, never took offense.
``I was looking forward to patting him on the back,'' Moorman said. ``I haven't had a chance to talk to him since then. It was a good, clean football hit, albeit in the Pro Bowl. It doesn't really matter. Somebody's got to make the tackle. That's definitely a memory I'll always hold on to.''
Seven days ago, the Redskins (5-6) were stewing over a three-game losing streak. Another close loss, 19-13 at Tampa Bay, put playoff hopes in jeopardy. The buzz in Washington concerned coach Joe Gibbs' decision not to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter, and the two fourth-quarter interceptions thrown by Jason Campbell that ruined the young quarterback's second straight 300-yard game.
The Redskins were already experiencing football without Taylor, who had missed the last two games and part of a third with a sprained knee. The big plays made by opponents down the middle of the field, where Taylor would be roaming as an intimidating free safety, showed just how irreplaceable he was.
Now they know he won't be back.
``This is uncharted territory for us as a team, me as a professional football player,'' Fletcher said. ``It's a difficult process that we're going through, but we're working to get through it as a team and as a football family.''
The Bills (5-6), like the Redskins, have stumbled toward the bottom fringe of the playoff chase. Back-to-back blowout losses to New England and Jacksonville led to the third quarterback change of the season, with rookie Trent Edwards replacing J.P Losman. The offense has struggled nearly all year, and the defense keeps losing players to injuries.
But such matters look small in the shadow of the sorrow over Taylor's death.
``I thought I would come back, and it would be about the Buffalo Bills against the Redskins, and now there's something greater,'' said Dockery, who played three seasons with Taylor in Washington. ``Sean's passing puts everything in perspective. There is a game, but Sean's not going to be able to play. We're just going to try to focus on the game and play a good game on Sunday. It's going to be a very emotional game. It will be a tough one.''