Final

Redskins 26

(5-9, 3-4 away)

49ers 16

(2-12, 1-6 home)

5:00 PM ET, December 18, 2004

 

1 2 3 4 T
WSH 7 16 3 026
SF 7 2 0 716

Washington offense still struggling

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Antonio Pierce found out just how easy it has become to beat the San Francisco 49ers: Simply stand in one place and allow their mistakes to find you.

The Washington linebacker got his first NFL touchdown on an interception thrown by Ken Dorsey, who hit Pierce between the numbers deep in Redskins territory with 48 seconds left in the first half.

Pierce returned it 78 yards for a score in a 26-16 victory on Saturday. Though the Redskins committed many of the same penalties, mistakes and lapses that have plagued their season, he realizes Washington's problems pale in comparison to San Francisco's woes.

"San Francisco, they're going to improve in the future, but we felt this was a game we should have, no excuses," said Pierce, who had the biggest of Washington's four interceptions. "It was 78 yards to the end zone? I knew there was a reason I was tired."

Patrick Ramsey passed for 214 yards and a touchdown, Clinton Portis rushed for 110 yards and Rod Gardner caught six passes for 111 yards -- but the Redskins (5-9) were disappointed in their offense, which scored its only touchdown on the opening drive.

"We had an opportunity to lose that game if our defense didn't play so well," Ramsey said. "(The offense is) contributing more, but not as much as we would like. We've just got to get the ball in the end zone."

Washington also committed 11 penalties for 93 yards to stay on pace to break the franchise record. Without newcomer Jeff Chandler, who kicked four field goals, the Redskins' task would have been much tougher.

But when teams face San Francisco (2-12), they've got plenty of margin for all sorts of errors.

"The thing that I am proudest of is just the way they fight," coach Joe Gibbs said. "I think our guys fight hard every week, and sometimes things are not that pretty. We just fought and played hard."

The Redskins took a 19-point lead late in the first half, and the sturdy defense shut out the Niners' offense for more than 45 minutes between Brandon Lloyd's early TD catch and Curtis Conway's scoring grab with 4:26 left.

Dorsey, making his fifth start in place of injured Tim Rattay, doubled his interception total for the season, including three in the first half. He finished 20-of-38 for 206 yards, but the 49ers remained on track for the top draft pick with more of the bland offense and step-slow defense that has defined their season.

"Defensively, time after time after time, we kept ourselves in the football game," 49ers coach Dennis Erickson said. "We just didn't make the plays we needed to, throwing the football."

With season-ending losses to Buffalo and New England, San Francisco could match the worst records in franchise history, set in 1978 and 1979.

Chandler, the former 49ers kicker signed by Washington earlier in the week, made a 49-yard field goal and three short kicks in an impressive debut. San Francisco's fans probably didn't recognize a player run out of town for his short kickoffs and shaky accuracy.

Robert Royal caught a 17-yard TD pass on Washington's first drive, but Lloyd answered with a 12-yard scoring catch for the Niners.

San Francisco trailed 16-7 when backup safety Keith Lewis blocked Tom Tupa's punt on the Washington goal line. Tupa booted the loose ball out of the end zone for a safety.

Dorsey then drove the Niners into scoring position, but Pierce caught the gift interception and returned it up the home sideline.

"Two very costly decisions, that's how I sum up this game," Dorsey said, referring to two of his first-half interceptions. "At the end of the half, you've got to get at least three points out of that. That's all things you've got to learn from and make sure don't happen again."

Star linebacker LaVar Arrington returned to the Redskins' lineup after missing 11 weeks with a knee injury, and the three-time Pro Bowl player appeared to see more playing time than he expected in his first game back.

"I think that I did well," Arrington said. "It is hard to get into game condition without playing. I don't think that I did too bad, with that much time off."

Game notes


The 49ers played without top pass-rusher Andre Carter, sidelined by a back injury. ... Washington deactivated CB Shawn Springs, who has a concussion. ... Dorsey sprained a finger on his left hand during the game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERWSHSF
wshTD1:00Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 77 yds, 0:00
229
sfSF2:14Washington safety.
Drive info: 1 plays, 0 yds, 0:00
169
wsh0:48
Drive info: 1 plays, 77 yds, 0:00
239
wshFG5:23Jeff Chandler 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 4 plays, 7 yds, 2:17
167
wshFG8:31Jeff Chandler 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 63 yds, 4:00
137
FIRST QUARTERWSHSF
wshTD9:35Touchdown
Drive info: 10 plays, 72 yds, 5:20
60
sfTD5:00Touchdown
Drive info: 9 plays, 71 yds, 4:10
76
wsh9:14
Drive info: 10 plays, 72 yds, 5:20
70
sf4:50
Drive info: 9 plays, 71 yds, 4:10
77
FOURTH QUARTERWSHSF
sfTD4:30Touchdown
Drive info: 10 plays, 66 yds, 4:52
2615
SECOND QUARTERWSHSF
wshFG14:50Jeff Chandler 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 23 yds, 3:30
107
FOURTH QUARTERWSHSF
sf4:26
Drive info: 10 plays, 66 yds, 4:52
2616
THIRD QUARTERWSHSF
wshFG3:36Jeff Chandler 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 15 plays, 65 yds, 9:37
269