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Gibbs: End like we start
The Redskins head coach lets his team know its second-half fizzles won't be tolerated.

 Loud and dramatic between plays Sunday, linebacker Marcus Washington was largely invisible during the second half, much like the Redskins defense.
JIM McISAAC/GETTY IMAGES
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Date published: 12/5/2006

By ADAM HIMMELSBACH

Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs met with his team yesterday to discuss its 24-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In the meeting, Gibbs held up a piece of paper that contained some telling numbers.

The sheet showed the Redskins' statistics through the opening half and the first four minutes of the third quarter. It illustrated that at the time, the Redskins were leading in every category that a football coach cares about.

They had more rushing yards and more passing yards. They had a better average starting field position. And most importantly, they had more points.

"We played that far into the game, into the third quarter, and we had the upper hand," Gibbs said. "But we didn't finish. These next four weeks, we've got to be able to finish ball games. It's not only got to be Redskin football for a half, we've got to finish the whole game, and that's been hard for us to do."

Indeed, the Redskins' second-half struggles have been a seasonlong conundrum. Washington is scoring an average of just 7.5 points per game after halftime.

At FedEx Field on Sunday, the undoing was sparked by a pair of costly turnovers and some sloppy defense.

It started innocuously enough for the home team. You could even say it started well, as Washington took the ball and marched deep into Atlanta territory. But on a second-and-11 from the 21, quarterback Jason Campbell dropped back to pass and was hit by Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy, who had come on a blitz. The ball hiccupped into the arms of 277-pound defensive lineman Chauncey Davis.

Two plays later, Falcons quarterback Michael Vick hit Michael Jenkins for a 22-yard touchdown, giving Atlanta a 17-14 lead it would not relinquish.

"When it's 14-0, you're sitting pretty happy," Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington said. "But you have to play four quarters of football. We didn't quite finish the way we wanted to finish."

Still, it was just a three-point game at the start of the fourth quarter. At the 12:26 mark of the final period, however, backup running back Jerious Norwood burst down the right sideline. He put a whirling double-move on cornerback Carlos Rogers, and zipped across the goal line for a 69-yard touchdown.


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