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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | Personals | Yellow Pages  November 29, 2003
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Redskins 20, Patriots 17
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LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- The first fumble recovery by the Washington Redskinsďż˝ defense this season was quite a spectacle.

It also was a key moment Sunday in a 20-17 victory, on a day in which in the New England Patriots gave up the ball far too often.

It was a trick play on the opening drive of the second half. The Patriots snapped the ball directly to running back Kevin Faulk, but cornerback Champ Bailey wasn�t fooled. He made the tackle in the backfield�but was too busy celebrating to notice that he�d knocked the ball loose.

Safety Matt Bowen saw it, though, and cradled it just enough to keep it in play before picking it up and falling in a pile inches from the goal line. Ladell Betts scored on the next play, giving the Redskins a 13-3 lead.

�I asked Champ after the play, �What happened? You didn�t want to score a touchdown?�� Bowen said �We�ve been talking about how the ball hasn�t been bouncing our way lately, but today it did.�

Said Bailey: �I was celebrating, and the ball�s sitting there at my feet. It�s one of those plays I look like a bonehead.�

The three-time Pro Bowl cornerback made one of three Redskins� interceptions�then said the Patriots must have been picking on him because he was injured.

�Probably�or either Tom Brady�s not a very bright guy,� Bailey said. �I was sort of surprised he tried it. If he thinks he�s good enough to get it in there, let him go for it.�

The Redskins won the turnover battle 4-0, but they nearly blew a 20-3 lead against their injury-riddled and penalty-prone opponents.  Brady rallied the Patriots with two second-half touchdown passes, and a comedy of Washington errors in the final two minutes put New England close to getting a shot at a tie.

The Redskins (3-1) have had all four of their games decided by three points or fewer, losing only last week in overtime to the New York Giants.

�It works on my nerves bad,� receiver Rod Gardner said. �It�s good to be coming out with these victories, but we need to stop cutting it close.�

With the defense forcing the action, the Redskins threw just 22 passes�the fewest in Steve Spurrier�s year-and-a-quarter as coach. Patrick Ramsey was 10-for-22 for 147 yards and threw just seven times in the second half in a game that pitted Spurrier�s high-powered offense against defensive guru Bill Belichick.

�He gave us the run,� receiver Laveranues Coles said. �Coach Spurrier was taking advantage of whatever the he gave us, and that�s what we�re about. Matching wits with a guy like that, Coach did that and came out on top.�

The Patriots (2-2) played without nine injured opening-day starters, including three linebackers. Two offensive linemen made their first NFL starts. Brady has been nursing a sore elbow, but he said it wasn�t a factor as he completed 25 of 38 passes for 289 yards and the four picks.

�I think we�re playing well�especially with everything that�s happened, with key members of the team gone,� said cornerback Ty Law, who played with a sprained ankle.

Larry Centersďż˝ touchdown catch with 2:10 to play pulled the Patriots within three. The Redskins then mismanaged the clock, throwing two incomplete passes and committing three false-start penalties. Laveranues Colesďż˝ tough catch appeared to convert a third-and-16, but it was ruled incomplete after a video review.

�Laveranues caught it,� Spurrier said. �But I guess there is a rule that if you catch it, even inbounds, and run out of bounds, then lose it out of bounds, they can call it an incomplete pass.�

Bryan Barker�s short punt gave the Patriots the ball at Washington�s 45 with 1:39 to go, and they moved to the 38 to set up fourth-and-3. Instead of sending Adam Vinatieri on for a 55-yard field goal attempt that could tie the game, Belichick kept the offense on the field. Brady�s pass was broken up by Ifeanyi Ohalete to end the final threat.

Belichick said he didn�t try the field goal because he felt the odds were better on fourth-and-short�and Vinatieri agreed, saying that his range Sunday was in the �low-to-mid 50s.�

ďż˝What more can you ask for than what we had?ďż˝ Brady said. ďż˝We came back, we did a good job getting ourselves back in the game.  You get the ball on (the) 45 and you canďż˝t get a first down. Thatďż˝s a pretty bad feeling.ďż˝

Notes: New England�s inactive list would make a good basis for a team in itself: LB Mike Vrabel, LB Ted Johnson, G Damien Woody, T Adrian Klemm, WR David Patten, NT Ted Washington and FB Fred McCrary. OLs Tom Ashworth and Russ Hochstein made their first NFL starts. ... New England hasn�t beaten Washington since 1972, a 0-6 streak.


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