Turning over new trend in victory over Patriots

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ASHBURN, Va. -- Talk about role reversal.

After three games and a measly two take-aways to show for its effort, the Washington Redskins' defense changed its ways and forced the New England Patriots to commit four turnovers in Sunday's victory at FedEx Field.

Cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Rashad Bauman and strong safety Ifeanyi Ohalete each intercepted New England quarterback Tom Brady. Bailey also stripped running back Kevin Faulk on a critical fumble that led to Washington's first touchdown in the 20-17 win.

"We hadn't had a lot the last couple of weeks," said Ohalete, who noted that the defense has a weekly goal of collecting three turnovers. "We were able to capitalize on some opportunities and make a lot of plays."

Last week, the Redskins were in the basement of the NFC's take-away-giveaway ratio with a minus-3 mark (two take-aways against five giveaways).

But Sunday's game -- which included no turnovers from the offense -- pushed the team into the positive zone for the first time since the 2001 season.

"Probably the biggest difference in the entire game was the four turnovers we got and our ability offensively to hold onto the ball," coach Steve Spurrier said during his weekly news conference. "We didn't give it away."

Three of the four turnovers came at critical junctures in the game. Ohalete's and Bailey's interceptions stopped Patriots drives into Washington territory late in the second quarter.

And Bailey's strip and free safety Matt Bowen's recovery at New England's 1-yard line led to a touchdown plunge by running back Ladell Betts that gave the Redskins a 13-3 advantage just 82 seconds into the third quarter.

Ohalete said some of the secondary's success stemmed from Brady's hubris.

"He said before the game he was going to try to test us," Ohalete said. "He had a lot of yards [289 on 25-for-38 passing], but he also had a lot of turnovers. Kind of a double-edged sword."

No answer on hand

Spurrier stood his ground in arguing that the officials erred when they ruled that wide receiver Laveranues Coles' apparent 17-yard reception late in the fourth quarter was an incompletion.

With 1:49 left in the fourth quarter, Coles' play on third-and-16 from Washington's 12-yard line would have extended the Redskins' drive and likely ended the Patriots' chances then. Instead, replay officials upheld the incompletion ruling and Washington was forced to punt.

Spurrier said a team official had lodged an inquiry with the league offices, but did not know what would result from it.

"They have what they call their Ten Commandments, and one of them is the referee will rule the pass incomplete if there's any question at all," Spurrier said. "He saw Laveranues hit the ground and the ball come out and he had to assume that maybe he was bobbling it as he took those two or three steps inbounds -- which he was not doing. I guess in watching the replay, they couldn't see that he caught the ball. That's the only explanation I have [as to] why they ruled it out."

Et cetera

Left guard Dave Fiore said the soreness in his surgically repaired right knee has abated and shouldn't prevent him from playing Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. ... Bauman's fourth-quarter interception was the first of his career. Bauman, who re-aggravated a hamstring injury, might miss a day or two of practice this week, but Spurrier said he is optimistic that the second-year defensive back will be healthy for Philadelphia.

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