ATLANTA (AP)—This looked more like a Steve Spurrier-coached team.
Quite a change from Week 1, when Spurrier’s “Fun ‘n’ Gun” offense went conservative in a 16-13 victory over the New York Jets.
“We thought the opportunity was there to throw it a little bit more,” Spurrier said. “Their linebackers and safeties are very involved in stopping the run. They play up close to the line. We thought that was something we could take advantage of.”
After taking a terrible beating in the first half, Ramsey threw for a career-high 356 yards and two touchdowns. Coles, shaken up early when his head rammed the leg of Falcons safety Kevin McCadam, recovered to set career highs with 11 catches for 180 yards.
Coles had the clinching touchdown on a 19-yard reception with 12:47 to go.
“Whenever things aren’t going well, I want to be the guy who steps up and makes things happen,” said Coles, acquired by owner Daniel Snyder during an offseason spending spree.
Washington is 2-0 for the first time since 1991, the season of its last Super Bowl championship. The Falcons (1-1) failed to give coach Dan Reeves his 200th career victory and squandered a chance to win their first two games for only the second time in 17 years.
“I guess Atlanta forgot there are four quarters in a game,” Redskins safety Matt Bowen said. “Their players were talking smack and their fans were talking noise, and guess who won the game?”
The Redskins defense came up big, too. Ifeanyi Ohalete set up a touchdown with a 30-yard interception return. Jessie Armstead sacked Doug Johnson in the end zone for a safety that put Washington ahead for good. And Champ Bailey held Peerless Price to only two catches for 28 yards.
“Every week, they give me the assignment to shut somebody down,” Bailey said, “and that’s what I do.”
Ramsey was sacked five times in the first half, losing the ball a couple of times. Ed Jasper scooped up one of the fumbles at the Washington 1, setting up T.J. Duckett’s second touchdown of the game. Cheered on by a raucous sellout crowd, the Falcons led 17-0 with less than two minutes gone in the second quarter.
After that, it was all Ramsey and the Redskins.
“For a guy who’s only been in the league two years, he showed a lot of composure,” Falcons linebacker Keith Brooking said. “We put a lot of hits on him, but he kept picking himself up. I have a lot of respect for him.”
Johnson, starting again in place of the injured Michael Vick, had a terrible day against his former college coach. The two had a contentious relationship at Florida, where Spurrier benched the strong-armed quarterback several times.
Johnson looked like he deserved to be a backup Sunday. He started 5-of-8 for 93 yards—then completed only 11 of 28 for 104 yards the rest of the way.
“We stalled on a lot of drives and kept giving the ball back to them,” Johnson said. “You can’t really expect your defense to keep getting the ball back for us.”
In the final minute of the third quarter, Armstead blew through a gaping hole and smothered Johnson in the end zone, putting Washington ahead to stay at 26-24.
Ohalete’s interception led to Rock Cartwright’s 1-yard touchdown, which pulled the Redskins to 17-14. The Falcons appeared to regain control on their next possession, starting at the Redskins 39 when Allen Rossum returned the kickoff 52 yards. Two big runs by Warrick Dunn set up Johnson’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Alge Crumpler.
But John Hall connected from 54 yards with just 12 seconds left in the first half, making it 24-17.
The second half was total domination by Washington. Ramsey tied it with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Rod Gardner in the third quarter, completing a 10-play, 76-yard drive. Gardner gave the Redskins a second 100-yard receiver, catching nine passes for 118.
Johnson had one last hurrah, throwing a 42-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Farris with 2:22 remaining. But the Falcons failed to recover an onside kickand the Redskins ran out all but the final 19 seconds.
The Falcons converted only 1-of-11 third-down plays. … The Redskins outgained the Falcons 146 yards to 7 in the third quarter. … Washington allowed only 7 yards rushing in the second half. … There appeared to be no significant injuries on either team. … Armstead had two sacks and seventackles.