LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- It was unthinkable for the Washington Redskins to lose to the St. Louis Rams at home for the second year in a row, right?
Well, the unthinkable nearly happened.
Serenaded with boos as their long drives dissolved into field goals rather than touchdowns, the Redskins just couldn't put away the Rams on Sunday. Washington never did reach the end zone, but scoring points three at a time was enough for a 9-7 win.
Shaun Suisham kicked field goals of 21, 28 and 23 yards as the Redskins (1-1) had four drives of more than 60 yards that faltered inside the 10. They put the game away -- more or less -- with a 78-yard drive that ended with a failed fourth-and-1 from the 2 with less than 2 minutes to play, leaving the Rams (0-2) with too far to go and not enough time to get there.
The Rams won only two games last season, one of them at Washington, and were the only team in the NFL not to even score last week. Yet those same Rams again were given just enough daylight by the Redskins' mistakes to stay in the game and were poised to take the lead early in the fourth quarter before a red zone mistake of their own: Donnie Avery, trying to reach the first-down marker after a third-down catch, had the ball stripped by safety Chris Horton at the 7-yard line.
After an exchange of punts, the Redskins iced the game by moving from their own 20 to the St. Louis 2. Clinton Portis converted a fourth-and-1 at the Rams' 20, but he couldn't find a hole when fourth-and-1 arose again at the 2. The Rams took over but were out of timeouts. Marc Bulger threw four straight incomplete passes, one of which was batted by prized defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
Portis finished with 79 yards on 19 carries. Jason Campbell completed 23 of 35 passes for 242 yards, and tight end Chris Cooley caught seven passes for 83 yards for the Redskins.
Steven Jackson had 104 yards rushing on 17 carries for the Rams. Bulger finished 15-for-28 for 123 yards.
The Redskins, entering the early soft part of their schedule, needed the win after becoming the only NFC East team to lose its opener last week. They dominated parts of the game, much as they did when they were upset 19-17 by the Rams a year ago, a loss that haunted Washington for the rest of the season and was a talking point all last week at practice.
Washington had two 13-play drives in the first half that took about 6 minutes each and gained a combined 147 yards, but both ended in field goals. Devin Thomas couldn't quite get a grip on potential touchdown pass in traffic on the first long drive, and fullback Mike Sellers dropped a sure touchdown on the second one.
Rocky McIntosh forced two fumbles in Rams territory in a 2 1/2-minute span in the first quarter, but one was negated by rookie Brian Orakpo's roughing the passer penalty and the other was recovered by St. Louis.
With the Redskins driving late in the first half, Ron Bartell stripped Santana Moss just before Moss' knee hit the ground. Moss was ruled down, but the play was overturned on video review -- a reversal that wouldn't have been allowed a year ago but is now possible under a change in replay rules.
In the second half, a 14-play drive resulted in yet another field goal, leading to more boos even though the home team had just taken a 9-7 lead.
Given all those breaks, the Rams couldn't help but stay in it. Jackson's 58-yard run set up Bulger's 2-yard touchdown pass to Laurent Robinson over cornerback DeAngelo Hall on a fade, jump-ball play, putting St. Louis ahead 7-6 at halftime.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)