Crash Landing: Rams 19, Redskins 17

AP Photo-Nick Wass

During the middle of the week, running back Clinton Portis and offensive guard Randy Thomas sat in chairs after practice, goofing around on the team's television station. Every so often, Portis would say, in a higher-pitched voice, "Championships."

Flash forward to Sunday.

The Redskins lose on a last-second field goal to the St. Louis Rams.

Now here's what Portis has to say:

"We had a golden opportunity to establish ourselves," Portis said.

"We let it slip away. We're playing up and down to our competition week in, week out…. Some games we should come in an dominate. This is one of those games.

"It's a focus thing. The previous four games, the focus is there. We knew we couldn't go out and put ourselves in that position. … All of a sudden you start to get pats on the back and feel like you're a better team."

But the Rams certainly kicked that notion to the curb Sunday by capitalizing on three Redskins fumbles – their first offensive turnovers of the season. Every time the Redskins gathered momentum, a turnover killed it.

"It didn't feel like us today," guard Pete Kendall said.

It didn't look like them, either.

The Rams game-winning drive featured one big play: a 43-yard pass to Donnie Avery, who adjusted on the ball and came back while corner Leigh Torrence could not. That gave St. Louis a first down at the Redskins' 16-yard line. After taking a knee and preparing for a last-second kick, guard Richie Incognito was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for jawing with an official.

But Josh Brown booted a 49-yarder for the win – the Rams first of the season and in the first game of interim coach Jim Haslett.

The real story, though, were the turnovers. Washington lost three fumbles. The first two did not lead to points for St. Louis. But both came in Rams territory, snuffing out Redskins drives in the first half. But the third one damaged the Redskins severely. The Redskins had a first down at the Rams' 16 with 26 seconds left in the first half when Jason Campbell went back to pass. The ball was tipped and Kendall grabbed it in mid-air.

Kendall was hit and fumbled, the ball being returned 75 yards for a touchdown and 10-7 halftime lead for the Rams.

"I wanted to bat it down and in my mind time was going so slow I felt like I had possessed it too long to throw it down," Kendall said. "I panicked and kept the ball. I remembered thinking before the play that we needed a few more yards to get comfortably into field goal range. I just took off. I should have done my job and let the field goal kicker do his job. If I do that, all things being equal, we win the game."

Said coach Jim Zorn, "I was frustrated because you could see how we were moving and right at the point of flipping it into the end zone, we would stop ourselves."

The Redskins took a 7-0 lead when LaRon Landry recovered a Steven Jackson fumble at the 3-yard line. One play later Portis scored on a three-yard run.

The Redskins took a 17-16 lead late in the game when Portis scored from the 2, capping a nine-play, 73-yard drive.

Another Rams scoring drive started not with a turnover, but with a short Durant Brooks punt. Though his 51-yarder set up the Redskins' first touchdown, his 26-yarder from the Washington 7 led to a St. Louis field goal drive.

The Redskins will consider bringing in punters for tryouts this week.

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