As the dog days of summer appear to be ending, so too are Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey's days in the doghouse.
Criticized for missing open receivers and throwing too many interceptions earlier in the preseason, Ramsey planted seeds of optimism with his second straight encouraging showing in the Redskins' 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedEx Field in Landover on Friday night.
In the past two games against the Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, Ramsey has completed 21 of 37 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns. Ramsey's three interceptions in those games are a concern, but coach Joe Gibbs was impressed by his ability to find H-back Chris Cooley for a 4-yard touchdown pass after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu.
"I felt like it was important to see how he bounces back. That's always an important thing," Gibbs said of Ramsey, who has been intercepted four times in 49 passing attempts. "I felt like it was his best outing - at least from where I was standing."
Ramsey's elation after the touchdown - he leaped into the arms of offensive linemen Randy Thomas and Chris Samuels before wrapping Cooley up in a bear hug - was shared by his teammates.
"He needed that for confidence alone. I needed that myself," said wide receiver Santana Moss. "I needed to see us go out there and be successful."
From the big picture perspective, the first-team offense's last significant outing before the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears also provided hope. (Washington's starters likely will see limited action in the final preseason game against the Ravens on Thursday night at M&T; Bank Stadium.)
The Redskins (1-2) had 234 yards of offense and 13 first downs in the first half against a Pittsburgh defense that gave up the fewest yards in the NFL last year. Running backs Clinton Portis (eight rushes, 48 yards) and Ladell Betts (nine, 41) chewed up yardage, and the offensive line did not give up a sack.
When the teams met last November in a regular-season game, Washington gained just 156 yards and had 10 first downs the entire game.
"I think that we had a great showing," said offensive tackle Jon Jansen. "I think we did a lot of things that we had wanted to accomplish in the first couple of games."
Added Ramsey: "We wanted to measure ourselves against a team of Pittsburgh's caliber. We don't need to pat ourselves on the back too much. There were a lot of things that could've been better."
Immediately after the game, linebacker LaVar Arrington reported no setbacks after his first appearance in a contest since missing 12 games last season with a right knee injury.
Arrington recorded three tackles, spending most of his time with the second defensive unit in the second half and almost coming down with an interception.
"I feel like I could still go," said Arrington, who played 20 snaps, according to Gibbs. "I was tired at first from all the nerves, but I had so much support from my teammates. Everybody was encouraging me and different things. I fed off of that, and I fed off of the fans screaming and hollering. I kind of forgot about all the rest of the stuff."