LANDOVER, Md. (AP)—Steve Spurrier benched himself, and it worked.
The Washington Redskins’ coach let someone else call the plays for a change—a radical departure from his two decades of offensive genius—and the result was a 27-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday and the end of a four-game losing streak.
“Maybe I’m struggling calling plays right now. Shoot, it’s not working as well as it should,” said Spurrier, who handed the duties to offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. “He asked to do it this week and I said OK. … If I have to bench the play-caller, then I can do that. I benched myself a little bit.”
But Spurrier made the two biggest calls himself. The game-winning score came when receiver Rod Gardner took a lateral and threw a 10-yard pass to a wide open Trung Canidate with 1:57 to play. Spurrier also went for a fourth-and-inches at his own 25 on the game-winning drive with the score tied.
“When you’ve lost four in-a-row,” Spurrier said, “you don’t have to play too conservatively or too careful.”
The victory will calm—at least for a week—the turmoil surrounding Spurrier’s future. Spurrier and owner Dan Snyder have been vilified in the national media this week for the downturn of the Redskins (4-5).
“I’m just happy for my coaches and my owner, Mr. Snyder,” said receiver Laveranues Coles, who saved a touchdown by forcing a fumble after a first-half interception. “He’s taken such a beating in the papers, and coach Spurrier’s taken a beating. Hopefully they can get a good night’s rest tonight.”
The Seahawks (6-3) blew a 14-3 first-half lead, fell to 1-3 on the road and appeared to outthink themselves when it came to how to beat the Redskins. Washington had allowed an NFL-high 29 sacks entering the game because it couldn’t stop the blitz, but the Seahawks decided to bluff the blitz rather than actually do it.
As a result, the Seahawks became the first team not to sack Patrick Ramsey this season.
“We tried to change the play, and then back out,” coach Mike Holmgren said. “And kind of keep him guessing.”
The Redskins were surprised.
“We thought that would be one of the big parts of their game plan, trying to knock Patrick around,” Coles said. “But it never really came. It was good for us.”
Coles was as valuable as anybody. He caught five passes for 125 yards and a touchdown and made the play that changed the momentum after an embarrassing start.
With the Redskins trailing 14-3 early in the second quarter, Damien Robinson intercepted a pass and ran 26 yards down the sideline toward an apparent touchdown. Coles caught him from behind, stripped the ball and Randy Thomas fell on it for a touchback.
Given a second chance, Washington drove 80 yards and scored when Coles made another outstanding play—a tiptoe catch at the back of the end zone for a 15-yard reception that made the score 14-10.
The Seahawks kicked a field goal on their next possession, but the Redskins went to the two-minute offense to tie the score just before halftime. A 31-yard pass to Coles set up a 14-yard TD throw to Gardner, who fought off pass interference from Shawn Springs to make the catch.
Those plays were called by Hue Jackson, who also revved up the team with a motivational speech Saturday night. As he spoke in the locker room, defensive end Bruce Smith walked by and rubbed Jackson’s head.
“He’s the man today,” Smith said. “He’s the man.”
Before Coles forced the fumble, the game was a disaster for the Redskins. The defense couldn’t stop the Seahawks, who drove 43 and 90 yards for touchdowns on their first two possessions. Bobby Engram was wide open for a 5-yard score, and Shaun Alexander ran 1 yard for a touchdown set up by a third-down screen to Mack Strong.
But Washington made a comeback, and Seattle was unable to win in the fourth quarter—as they have done in their last four victories.
“This was a game we should have won,” linebacker Chad Brown said. “But good teams find ways to overcome these things. We can’t live by thisfourth-quarter comeback and hope the ball bounces our way.”
Smith did not start for the second straight week, but got one sack to move within one-half sack of tying Reggie White’s all-time record. … The Redskins, one of the most penalized teams in the NFL, committed a season-low four penalties. … Washington S Matt Bowen left the game early with aconcussion.