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BigSKINBauer 08-27-2005 12:24 AM

WP: Ramsey Lifts Redskins Past Steelers
[b]Ramsey Lifts Redskins Past Steelers
[/b]Redskins 17, Steelers 10

Associated Press
Saturday, August 27, 2005; E1

Patrick Ramsey did something Ben Roethlisberger hasn't yet: get the Pittsburgh Steelers into the end zone.

The Washington Redskins quarterback had an interception returned for a touchdown, but then rallied for his best performance this preseason. Ramsey hit Chris Cooley for a second-quarter touchdown and completed 12 of 19 passes for 141 yards Friday night in a 17-10 victory over the Steelers.

Needing a good night to stave off any question of a starting job challenge from the rejuvenated Mark Brunell, Ramsey completed two long passes to Santana Moss and celebrated his touchdown to Cooley by leaping into the arms of linemen Randy Thomas and Chris Samuels.

There was no such frivolity among Pittsburgh's offensive starters, who haven't scored a touchdown in 41/2 quarters over three games. They got their first points when Jeff Reed kicked a 24-yard field goal in the second quarter, but that was set up by the only big play they produced all night: a 51-yard run by third-string running back Willie Parker.

Parker was playing with the starters because Jerome Bettis left with a calf injury in the first quarter and Duce Staley is rehabilitating from knee surgery. Take away Parker's run and Pittsburgh's longest gain in the first half was an 18-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Cedrick Wilson.

Roethlisberger finished 6-for-15 for 57 yards and a desperation heave interception on the last play of the half. The solid Redskins defense wasn't going to give him much, but he hurt his cause by misfiring several throws. 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.

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 scored on a return by Pittsburgh this preseason. Two have come on interceptions, one each on a fumble, punt return and kickoff return.

Still, the Redskins seemed determined to keep throwing the long ball until they got it right, and they finally did. Ramsey hit Moss for gains of 40 and 28 yards, then went 5-for-5 on a 10-play, 55-yard drive. It ended with the touchdown pass to Cooley, who leaped and brought down the ball with safety Chris Hope draped all over him.

Washington's running game looked even stronger. Clinton 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.

The game also 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.

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