Ramsey sets up winning FG with scramble

Amazingly, the biggest play of the game came from Patrick Ramsey's legs, not his impressive right arm.

Updated: September 5, 2003, 9:23 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

LANDOVER, Md. -- He had made enough plays with his arm, especially during a red-hot first half, to keep the Washington Redskins in the game.

But with the outcome on the line, tied at 13-13 and only two minutes remaining, it came time for second-year quarterback Patrick Ramsey to make a play with his feet. And so, in just his sixth regular-season start, Ramsey did precisely what most quarterbacks not noted for their deftness afoot might do.

I sort of saw things open up in front of me, closed my eyes, and just went for it. You think the Jets didn't expect it? Hey, it's the last thing I expected too, man.
Patrick Ramsey
On his 24-yard scramble

He tucked the ball under his arm and ran.

"I sort of saw things open up in front of me, closed my eyes, and just went for it," said Ramsey, recalling his slow-motion scramble for 24 yards, the most critical play in a drive that ended with John Hall's game-winning 33-yard field goal. "You think the Jets didn't expect it? Hey, it's the last thing I expected too, man."

Then again, the Redskins aren't paying their 2002 first-round quarterback to win games with his feet. They are, however, paying him to win, period. And if dashing off to the left side pell-mell is what it takes, finishing off his surprising foray with a hook slide that might need some practice, then Ramsey is willing to do it.

For the record, the former Tulane star carried just one time as a rookie, for zero yards. In college, Ramsey was known for his quick release, not his nimble feet. But the youngster in whom the Washington brass has entrusted its future demonstrated on Thursday night that he is a gamer and that he worries more about the final score than final statistics.

Then again, just minutes after the 16-13 victory over the Jets, he didn't mind reliving the harrowing moments when he had no receiver open and the New York defense just parted and dared him to run.

Nor did his teammates mind describing the play.

"I thought," said wide receiver Rod Gardner, "that maybe he was trying to run the clock out or something, he was moving so slow. But, really, that was a great play. That one put us in position to win it."

The run, on a second-and-four play, moved the ball to the New York 31-yard line. Three straight runs by tailback Ladell Betts, whose straight ahead style provided real impetus for the Washington ground game, netted 17 yards. And then Hall capped a storybook evening for the four former Jets veterans who now play for the Redskins by drilling the winning three-pointer.

Credit the poised Ramsey, though, with authoring a pretty impressive chapter in a game that was played with high emotion throughout. Several hours before the contest, several Washington officials acknowledged to ESPN.com that they were more nervous for the young quarterback than Ramsey was for himself. That certainly appeared to be the case from the Redskins' initial possession.

Playing in front of a national, prime time audience, Ramsey enjoyed a brilliant first half. He led Washington to scores on each of its first three possessions and finished the half with 12 completions in 13 attempts, for 156 yards, one touchdown, and a 142.3 rating.

The highlights included a 25-yard completion to wide receiver Laveranues Coles on a second-and-17 play during the game's opening series; a third-down touchdown pass of four yards to Darnerian McCants; a 48-yard hookup with Coles on which he ducked what appeared to be a sure sack by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis; a 22-yard crossing route to the ubiquitous Coles; and a 20-yard laser to tight end Robert Royals on which he once again victimized the aging Lewis.

"We couldn't have asked for anything more of him," Coles said. "For a guy who really is still almost a rookie, he was right on target with everything he threw, and he definitely had control of the huddle."

The second half was hardly as productive.

Ramsey threw an interception on Washington's opening possession of the third quarter, leaving an attempt for Gardner too far inside, where Jets cornerback Donnie Abraham could get a clean break on the ball. Early in the fourth quarter, he lost a fumble when he was sacked by end John Abraham for a second time, and his accuracy generally was a hair off in the entire half.

Thankfully, the defense bailed Ramsey out, limiting the Jets to just a pair of field goals after the turnovers. And with his quarterback struggling a bit, coach Steve Spurrier was savvy enough to turn more to the running game. Of course, he didn't envision that the biggest run of all would come from the guy least likely to make it.

Neither did the New York defenders.

"Give the guy credit," said Abraham. "I didn't think he could move like that. But he did it when they needed it most and it was the play that won them the game. For a young guy, a guy we kept hitting, he played pretty well. He earned my respect, I know that."

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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