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
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
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
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
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."
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.
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