LANDOVER, Md. (Aug. 26, 2005) -- There seemed to be a little extra in the celebration, especially for an exhibition game.
After throwing an interception that was returned for a score, Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey rallied for his best performance this preseason in a 17-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. A touchdown pass to Chris Cooley was the exclamation point, a moment celebrated when Ramsey leaped into the arms of linemen Randy Thomas and Chris Samuels.
"I was proud of Patrick," Samuels said. "He took us down on a great drive. A lot of people tried to get down on him early, with the interception, but he showed a lot of poise and a lot of confidence and stepped up and led the offense."
Needing a good night to stave off any question of a challenge from the rejuvenated Mark Brunell, Ramsey completed 12 of 19 passes for 141 yards. He hit Santana Moss for gains of 40 and 28 yards, then went 5-for-5 on a 10-play, 55-yard drive capped by the pass to Cooley, who brought down the ball with safety Chris Hope draped all over him.
No one's ready to compare Ramsey to Joe Montana, but the game eased a few doubts as the regular season draws near.
"The confidence of Patrick is sky-high right now," running back Clinton Portis said. "To come back from that interception and drive down and respond and put points on the board -- we didn't do that last year. This year, there's a different swagger. He came in the huddle: 'Let's go guys. Let's put some points up.' ... Last year, after a turnover, we probably went backward."
|Steelers QB Big Roethlisberger finished with another subpar outing.|
Ben Roethlisberger finished 6-for-15 for 57 yards and a desperation heave interception on the last play of the half. His rating was 23.5, worse even than the 36.5 from his first two games. The Steelers were outgained 234-130 before the reserves took over in the second half.
"Disappointed in the effort tonight, certainly offensively," Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said. "We are not in sync on offense, and that was evident."
The Steelers' starters got their first points when Jeff Reed kicked a 24-yard field goal in the second quarter, set up by the only big play they produced all night: a 51-yard run by third-string running back Willie Parker.
Cowher took Parker out after the 51-yard run, not wanting to lose the next back in the pecking order. "You might not see him again until Tennessee," said Cowher, referring to the season opener Sept. 11.
The score was 10-10 at halftime. The Redskins scored the winning touchdown in the third quarter when Brunell led an 85-yard drive, capped by Rock Cartwright's 10-yard run.
Washington coach Joe Gibbs was particularly upset when Ramsey threw two poor interceptions last week. So the coach couldn't have been happy when his quarterback threw a desperate lob over blitzing linebacker Clark Haggans and right to Troy Polamalu, who returned the interception 34 yards to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead.
Polamalu's touchdown was the fifth on a return by Pittsburgh this preseason: two on interceptions, one each on a fumble, punt return and kickoff return.
But Ramsey steadied, and Washington's running game looked strong as well. Portis, getting his first significant preseason action after missing last week's game with a sore elbow, gained 48 yards on eight carries. Ladell Betts was just as solid in relief, running for 41 yards in nine attempts.
"We were riding pretty high last week, we had a good game, and I guess guys were reading the press clippings too much," Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior said. "We've got to go back to the drawing board."
The game marked the 2005 debut of Redskins three-time Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington, who hadn't been healthy in nearly a year because of knee injuries. Arrington was cheered when he entered the game in the second quarter and egged on the crowd. He was used sparingly as a pass-rushing defensive end in the first half, but he made two quick tackles and came close to a sack and an interception playing linebacker after halftime.
- Washington S Matt Bowen left in the first half with bruised ribs and was taken to a hospital for further examination. "It looks like he's OK," Gibbs said.
Andre Frazierleft in the third quarter with an ankle injury.
- Steelers WR Hines Ward, in his first significant playing time since ending his holdout, caught two passes for 16 yards.
- Missing Washington notables were P Tom Tupa (back), CBs Walt Harris (quad) and Ryan Clark (knee) and WR Taylor Jacobs (toe).
- LB Joey Porter (knee) sat out again for the Steelers.