Daniel Snyder finally got what he paid for.
Jeff George, one of Washington owner Snyder’s high priced offseason acquisitions, threw three touchdown passes as the Redskins upset the St. Louis Rams 33-20 Monday night and put themselves back in prime playoff position.
George, filling in for the injured Brad Johnson, had plenty of help from a defense that sacked Trent Green five times and the special teams, which recovered an onside kick and a fumble. Those two plays came during a stretch late in the third quarter and early in the fourth in which the Redskins got 12 points without the St. Louis offense getting the ball.
3 Sacks for Smith
Bruce Smith, the 16-year veteran who was another offseason signee, had three sacks, including one in the end zone with 3:44 left.
And 44-year-old Eddie Murray, signed during Washington’s bye week as the team’s fourth placekicker of the season, added field goals of 37, 47, 41 and 39 yards as the Redskins (7-4) moved into a tie with the New York Giants for second place in the NFC East, a half-game behind Philadelphia. The Eagles play at Washington next Sunday, while the Giants are at the Redskins in two weeks.
The key sequence came late in the third quarter, with the Rams (8-3) leading 20-19.
George, who had first-half TD passes of 19 yards to James Thrash and 3 yards to Larry Centers, hit Irving Fryar from 34 yards out to give the Redskins a 25-20 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Scott Bentley, like Murray a recent signee, kicked the ball 10 yards and fell on it himself, setting up Murray’s 41-yard field goal that made it 28-20. On the next kickoff, Sam Shade recovered Tony Horne’s fumble to set up Murray’s 39-yard kick and it was 31-20.
Champ Bailey ended the next St. Louis threat by intercepting Green’s pass in the end zone with 5:38 left, and Smith capped it off with his sack of Green for a safety.
Early Lead Falls Apart
The Rams jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first 5:25, but the Redskins bounced back to tie it at 13 at halftime with 10 points in the final 1:50 of the second quarter.
Jeff Hall’s 30-yard field goal gave St. Louis the lead on their first drive.
Then Dexter McCleon intercepted a pass by George on the Redskins’ third play from scrimmage and returned it 23 yards to the Washington 24. After an offside call against Smith moved it to the 19, Green found Marshall Faulk, who returned just two weeks after knee surgery, in the end zone to make it 10-0.
Murray’s 37-yard field goal cut it to 10-3 with 43 seconds left in the first, then Hall hit from 43 to make it 13-3.
George’s 19-yard TD pass to Thrash with 1:50 left cut the Washington deficit to 13-10.
Then, on St. Louis’ first play, Green hit Torry Holt for 64 yards, but Holt fumbled at the end of the run and Matt Stevens recovered for Washington at its own 23. From there, George moved the Redskins into position for Murray’s 47-yarder that tied it.
Washington made it 19-13 5:41 into the third quarter on the 3-yard pass from George to Larry Centers. But Murray’s extra point attempt hit the left upright.
Green countered with a 26-yard pass to Faulk, a 22-yarder to Isaac Bruce, then capped the drive with a 15-yarder to Proehl and it was 20-19.
George, who was 24-of-34 for 269 yards, found Fryar from 34 yards out with 25 seconds left in the third quarter. The 2-point conversion failed, and the Redskins led 25-20.