LANDOVER - Next month, the Washington Redskins will open their regular season, and FedEx Field will likely be brimming with 91,000-plus fans.
Perhaps those fans will look at the Redskins and see a workhorse running back, multiple offensive sets and savvy halftime adjustments. Perhaps they will see a Joe Gibbs team that looks like a Joe Gibbs team.
But not last night.
In Gibbs' cautious coaching debut at FedEx Field, the fans saw only flashes of what their team may yet become.
They saw quarterback Tim Hasselbeck enter the game late and - a week after leading the Redskins to a last-minute victory - almost engineer another victory, driving the team to a go-ahead, 34-yard field goal by Ola Kimrin.
But William Hampton intercepted Hasselbeck in overtime, and John Kasay followed with a 52-yard field goal as the Carolina Panthers beat the Redskins, 23-20.
Long before Kasay's game-winner, the fans saw Mark Brunell stake a claim to be Washington's starting quarterback in the third quarter with a 61-yard scoring pass to Darnerien McCants (Arundel). It was the first time in two preseason games that either Brunell or rival Patrick Ramsey had spearheaded a touchdown drive. Brunell finished 6-for-15 for 119 yards.
"It's early," Brunell said. "We're not showing a whole lot. It's no secret."
The fans who showed up - tens of thousands stayed away on a wet, dreary night - saw other glimpses that might portend future success.
They saw safety Sean Taylor, the heralded rookie who had two interceptions in his preseason debut, help force a fumble immediately after entering the game in the second quarter. Washington's Todd Franz intercepted a pass three plays later, setting up John Hall's 23-yard field goal that evened the score at 3-3.
The fans also saw Washington wide receiver Laveranues Coles repeatedly roam free beyond the Carolina secondary during the first half. He finished with three catches for 55 yards.
Generally, though, Gibbs and the Redskins (1-1) kept their play-calling vanilla and left the fans wanting more.
"I think everybody in preseason is holding back some," Gibbs said. But he said the team was nevertheless making too many mistakes.
"I think we made too many mistakes all the way across the board," he said. "We've got some concerns. We're not running the football."
Running back Clinton Portis, a key offseason acquisition, carried just five times for 15 yards.
Ramsey, who started at quarterback, played five series - four of which ended in punts and one in an interception. He was 4-for-11 for 62 yards.
After missing on four of his first five passes, Ramsey finally seemed to get untracked in the last minute of the first quarter when he hit Coles over the middle for 34 yards to the Carolina 31. But he hung a deep pass for Coles on his next attempt, and it was intercepted by Dante Wesley.
Carolina (1-0) took the lead 10-3 when Chris Weinke hit a wide-open Keary Colbert on a 42-yard scoring strike with 7:34 left in the third quarter.
Brunell hit McCants for the score on the next possession, knotting the score at 10.
But Carolina came back on the next series as a scrambling Weinke hit Colbert again, this time on a 68-yard touchdown, to give the Panthers a 17-10 lead.
Hasselbeck entered the game for Brunell and led a 71-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown run by Sultan McCullough to tie the score at 17.
Hasselbeck then led an eight-play, 54-yard drive culminating in Kimrin's field goal to give Washington a 20-17 lead. Kasay kicked a 37-yard field goal with 23 seconds left to send the game into overtime.