Washington Redskins (5-6) at St. Louis Rams (5-6)
December 4, 2005 at 4pm
Edward Jones Dome
FOX Sports (Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger)
The Redskins, who three weeks ago had postseason aspirations, will take a three week losing streak into St. Louis to face a team that seems to have some turmoil in its own house. Whether it be who the Rams will have under center or if Mike Martz will be back on the Rams sideline anytime soon, the Rams need to win every game they can to keep their very slim playoff hopes alive and the distractions are of little help. The Redskins are also trying to keep their playoff hopes and even if they win out the rest of the season, could find themselves watching the postseason for the sixth straight year.
The Redskins offense, which ranks 14th in the league with an average of 332.5 yards per game, faces off against a Rams defense that gives up 376.6 yards per game (29th). The Redskins offense has seen their passing game struggle a bit in recent weeks but has been helped by Clinton Portis’ increased production on the ground. The team has missed Ladell Betts (knee) the last few weeks but got a shot in the arm last week from Rock Cartwright, who effectively spelled Portis and added a touchdown run against San Diego. If the Redskins can get their offense firing, they could post some impressive numbers against a defense that allowed 412 yards to the Houston Texans. The Rams defense has seemingly always been their Achilles heel and this season is no different. The offense of the Redskins must again find consistency or even the porous Rams defense could give them problems. They also will need to continue to work on finding receivers other than Santana Moss and Chris Cooley. While it is great that Clinton Portis’ 23 receptions place him third on the team, it is a sad commentary on the state of the Redskins receiving corps. Admittedly they are operating without David Patten but even when Patten was healthy he did little to cause defenses coverage problems. Until the team can add a legitimate threat at the number two spot, defenses can continue to slide their coverage over to double Moss.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins come off of their game with the Chargers having picked off Drew Brees three times in the fourth quarter and having an opportunity to win another game with less than a minute on the clock. Unfortunately for the Redskins, LaDainian Tomlinson still had an opportunity and he made the defense pay. Tomlinson ran roughshod on the defense, gaining 184 yards on 25 carries (7.4 yards per carry). This has been a trend of growing concern as they have been giving up a lot of yardage on the ground. The Redskins defense ranks 10th in the league with 308.3 yards per game and it doesn’t get any easier this week with the strong running of Steven Jackson. With the Rams possibly starting their rookie quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Redskins should get plenty of looks at Jackson. But considering the game Fitzpatrick had last week in which he rallied his team for a come from behind win and threw for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns, the Rams will still put the ball in the air. The Rams offensive line allowed seven sacks last week against the Texans and with a rookie quarterback under center, the blitzing nature of the Redskins defense should make Fitzpatrick’s second NFL game a bit more active. The Redskins secondary has stepped up its play in the past few weeks and against the Rams receivers on turf, they will again be tested. Their job has been made harder by the defensive front’s inability to get consistent pressure on the passer. If they are unable to get pressure this week, the secondary could see plenty of action all day with the talented Rams receivers.
This game features two teams that have been disappointing in their recent play. Both teams desperately need this game in order to keep their fading playoff hopes alive. A loss will knock the other team out of the Wild Card race so both teams will have plenty to play for on Sunday. For the Redskins to win this nationally televised game, they will need to control the ball on both offense and defense. If they allow the Rams to open up their offense and give either Fitzpatrick or Jamie Martin confidence, the Rams could blow open the game. They will also need to limit Steven Jackson’s success on the ground, something that they have had trouble doing recently. The Redskins have had their hearts ripped out the last three weeks and Coach Gibbs feels that how they perform following those losses will speak volumes about the character of this team. Washington needs to take a page from the playbook of the Indianapolis Colts and come into this game swinging a big club. The Redskins are the more physical of the two teams and if they can pound on the Rams, the Redskins can get off the schnide and start working toward a Wild Card berth.
Here are this week’s key player match-ups:
CB Ron Bartell vs. WR Santana Moss
By Bernie Marshall
Rookie Ron Bartell will make his second start as he replaces Travis Fisher at CB. Bartell will line up against Santana Moss who has been receiving double coverage on just about every passing down. Moss will flourish against Bartell who plays as much as 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, and should pick up many yards after the catch. Safety help will come from another rookie Jerome Carter who will also be starting his 2nd NFL game if Adam Archuleta can’t go
Advantage: Santana Moss
WR Torry Holt vs. CB Shawn Springs
By Scott Hurrey
Torry Holt is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Shawn Springs will need to play Holt tight and physical to avoid giving up the big play. Luckily for Redskins fans Springs will be more up to the task with both rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick under center and blind-side protector Orlando Pace likely out as well.
Be sure to check out the entire Gameday section.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart