ASHBURN, Va. - In 20 career starts, Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey has thrown for more than 3,400 yards and connected on 27 touchdown passes.
But if there's one pass that left the biggest imprint on the third-year quarterback's psyche, it was his ill-advised lob that was intercepted by Philadelphia free safety Brian Dawkins in the end zone with 1:46 left in the fourth quarter Sunday night that essentially cemented the Eagles' 17-14 win.
"There's probably not a throw in my career I'd love to have back more than that one," Ramsey said yesterday as he left Redskins Park. "I could've dumped the ball underneath and, looking back, that's what I should've and wished I had done."
The interception was hardly the sole factor in Washington's loss. The Redskins (4-9) hurt themselves by tying a season-high 12 penalties for 137 yards, and the offense waited until the Eagles (12-1) posted a 10-point lead before rallying.
But the mistake loomed large because Washington had first-and-10 at Philadelphia's 27-yard line and could have settled for a field goal to tie the score at 17.
Ramsey, who had found H-back Chris Cooley seven times for 75 yards, tried to hit the rookie again in the back left corner of the end zone. But Cooley was double-covered by Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard and Dawkins.
Dawkins leaped and came down with the ball. The Redskins challenged the ruling, hoping that video replay would show Dawkins did not land with both feet inbounds, but the challenge was denied.
Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said he was confident John Hall could have kicked the game-tying field goal, but said he felt the opportunity to beat the NFC East champion Eagles was too great to pass up.
"We wanted to take a shot - at least one shot - in there and try to win the game," he said. "As it turned out, it didn't go that way for us. But I felt good about it. I thought it was the right thing to do."
Perhaps even more galling for the Redskins were the penalties. Washington, which matched a season high set against Philadelphia on Nov. 21, was flagged six times on offense and three times each on special teams and defense.
The offense was guilty of four false starts, one delay-of-game and one holding. On one sequence, back-to-back penalties - holding against receiver Darnerien McCants and a false start against receiver Rod Gardner - moved Washington from the Eagles' 25 to the 39 late in the second quarter. Hall ended up missing a 43-yard field-goal attempt with 18 seconds left in the half.
"The four movement penalties are kind of hard for me to figure out," Gibbs said, adding that a 20-second clock the team uses during practice would be reduced to 18 seconds to speed up the offense's tempo.
"I don't know whether it's a lack of concentration or some kind of uneasiness. ... That's something we'll obviously be focused on."
Gibbs did defend H-back Mike Sellers, who was hit with three 15-yard penalties - two for unnecessary roughness and one for a face-mask violation - all on special teams.
"He makes great plays," Gibbs said. "[But] you've got to understand that you can't put yourself before the team. You've got to have a lot of poise there."
NOTES: Cornerback Shawn Springs, who suffered a concussion on a clean block by Philadelphia running back Josh Perry, was released from Virginia Hospital Center early yesterday. Springs, who complained of a headache and suffered a sprained left shoulder and bruised sternum, likely will not play Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers, according to Gibbs. ... The team placed backup safety Jason Doering (high ankle sprain) on injured reserve, ending his season.