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Offense needs upgrade

September 29, 2005 1:06 am

By ADAM HIMMELSBACH

ASHBURN--By the time the Washington Redskins tussle with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, they'll have had almost two weeks to bask in the glory of four glorious minutes.

They've done plenty of smiling and back-slapping since that magical Monday night comeback against the Dallas Cowboys.

Surely, you remember. Wideout Santana Moss put together his own Texas two-step, scoring a pair of touchdowns a few strokes after midnight, sending the visitors to a 14-13 win.

Redskins fans leapt and roared. Cowboys fans boiled and cringed. The victory pushed Washington into its bye week at 2-0.

But it's unknown whether the late-night elixir was just an anomaly. It remains to be seen whether the Redskins will find a way to consistently dent a scoreboard.

"Anytime you start patting yourself on the back, you're setting yourself up for a trap," center Casey Rabach said. "Except for the last four minutes of the Cowboys game, our offense has been pretty low-key."

Through two games, the Redskins have gained 669 yards on 132 plays, an average of 5.2 yards per snap. But take away the two long passes to Moss, and that average plummets to 4.2.

Five fumbles have hiccuped from their arms, two passes have been intercepted and quarterbacks Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell have been sacked eight times.

"It's been pretty sloppy and we've got some things to clean up," Brunell said. "We know we're headed in the right direction."

Though the Redskins plan to erase Moss' late-game heroics from their memories, they hope their opponents don't.

They hope defenses adjust their schemes and setups, because for the first time in a long time, they feel like they have a legitimate deep passing threat.

They hope opposing safeties veer a bit more toward Moss, thus freeing sure-handed veteran David Patten for a few more catches.

They hope defensive coordinators decide against piling the box with eight players, so running back Clinton Portis doesn't feel like a bug trying to penetrate a screen door.

"Hopefully now we can mix things up and keep people guessing," said Patten, who has just four catches for 31 yards in Washington's two games this season.

The Redskins have struggled to complete intermediate (15- to-25-yard) receptions. This may be attributed to a lack of pass protection.

Only eight teams have been sacked more often than the Redskins, and six of those teams have played three games this year.

"Those were very good defensive teams we were going against," coach Joe Gibbs said, "but at the same time we need to step it up on our pass protection because that's a big deal for us."

On the ground, the Redskins are simply looking for the end zone. Through two games, they've yet to score a rushing touchdown. Dating back to last season, they have just one rushing touchdown in their last five games.

"We're really starting to feel that on the line right now," tackle Chris Samuels said. "We want a touchdown, and we know how badly Clinton wants one."

So they'll continue to work. With a 2-0 mark, no one is ready to sound an alarm. Still, there's a sense of uncertainty with this oft-sputtering offense.

"With the exception of the end of that Dallas game, we know we've struggled," Patten said. "Hopefully we can do better this week and also continue to win games."

Notes

Kicker John Hall continues to recover from the quadriceps injury that kept him out of the Sept. 19 game against the Cowboys. Hall has done limited kicking at practice this week, but has not set a timetable for his return. He says he doesn't expect to play until he's able to complete both field goals and kickoffs.

"I'm sick of this already," Hall said. "I just have to listen to my leg right now and not rush back too early."

Cornerback Walt Harris (calf) and safety Pierson Prioleau (hamstring) did not practice yesterday and are listed on the injury report as questionable. Tackle Jon Jansen (thumb), safety Sean Taylor (shoulder) and linebacker Lemar Marshall (groin) practiced and are probable for Sunday's game.

To reach ADAM HIMMELSBACH: 540/374-5442ahimmelsbach@freelancestar.com




SEAHAWKS (2-1) vs. REDSKINS (2-0)

FedEx Field, Landover, Md. Sunday, 1 p.m. (FOX-TV; WGRQ-FM 95.9)




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