Last Sunday, the Skins' came into their game against the NFC West Division leading Seattle Seahawks with a NFC East Division worst 3-5 record, a four game losing streak having not won a game since September, and fading playoff hopes. The desperate Redskins were able to come back from a 14-3 first half deficit to defeat the then 6-2 Seahawks by a score of 27-20 perhaps saving the team's playoff aspirations and Head Coach Steve Spurrier's job security for another week.
Spurrier surprisingly gave offensive coordinator Hue Jackson the play-calling duties for the first time in the game, but made two of the most crucial calls himself. Spurrier shockingly elected to go for a first down on forth and a foot on the Redskin 25-yard line when the game was tied late in the fourth quarter. He also drew up the game winning touchdown later in the drive. Second-year quarterback Patrick Ramsay threw a screen pass to receiver Rod Gardener in the backfield, who proceeded to throw the ball to a wide open Trung Candidate in the endzone. The penalty plagued team was able to have only four flags thrown against it in the game.
This Sunday at 1:00 p.m., Washington will go on the road to play a surprisingly formidable Carolina Panther team that is 7-2 and has a three game cushion in its division. Washington will need more heads up decisions by the youngest coaching staff in the NFL if it intends to make a playoff push. The Redskins, who are still oozing desperation, will have to halt the running attack of Stephen Davis if they are to have any chance of overcoming the six and a half point favorite.
Davis, who leads the NFC with 992 yards, will be anxious to make sure Steve Spurrier wish that he had never let his star running back go. Davis is third all-time in Redskin history in rushing yards while playing only seven seasons. He had stellar seasons from 1999-2001 when he averaged 1,385 yards and 11 touchdowns but underperformed in 2002 and was released for salary cap purposes and because his north-south rushing didn't fit the "Fun 'N' Gun" offense.
Davis has been the missing link for a Panther team only two years removed from an abysmal 1-15 season. He is averaging 5.1 yards per carry while rushing for 31 more yards per game than all Redskin rushers combined.
Fortunately for Washington, Davis may be hobbled by a bum ankle. He missed last week's 27-24 win over Tampa Bay, but Panther quarterback Jake Delhomme stepped it up and passed for 277 yards and two touchdowns in his absence.
Future hall of fame defensive end Bruce Smith is just half of a sack shy of the all-time sack record. Laveranues Coles and Gardener, who were responsible for 230 total yards and three touchdowns against Seattle, will need to continue producing against Carolina for the ‘Skins to have a winning record.
If he can stay on his feet, Ramsay may be able to put up significant numbers against the Panthers, who have the NFC's third worst pass defense. Rock Cartright, the team's fourth string tail back, had a great game against the Seahawks, playing because of injuries to the other backs. However Cartright, who may start against Carolina, may be halted by the Panther run defense, led by second-year phenom Julius Peppers. Carolina should be applying pressure to Washington's battered QB, having learned from Seattle's mistake of not blitzing much.
The Panthers' dominant 7-2 record may be slightly misleading, as they have three overtime victories and have only won one game by more than six points. They showed that they were beatable by losing 14-10 to the lowly Houston Texans on Nov 2. Washington will surely be fired up and hungry because the ‘Skins need to finish the season 5-2 in order to have a chance at making the playoffs. The Redskins look to catch the Panthers sleeping because Carolina is practically already playoff-bound.
However, Carolina definitely appears to be the better team. The ‘Skins are only 1-3 on the road, while the Panthers are 4-1 at home and Davis will definitely seek revenge on his former team. If healthy, Davis may be able to approach 200 yards in the game. Therefore, Carolina should be able to defeat the ‘Skins for the first time in their history.
Panthers 28, Redskins 20
Zach Mellman. Zach Mellman was born on October 18, 1956 (he was held back once or twice). He has lived in Takoma Park, Maryland his entire life. He is currently a senior at Blair enrolled in honors classes. He is also a member of Blair's golf team, … More »