Play number 3 occurred after the Falcons, down 21-7, had gone backward on their first two plays of the series and faced second-and-19 at their own 11. Miller dropped back and fired a pass to wideout Michael Haynes, the former Big Sky Conference 100- and 200-meter champion, who had faked Redskin cornerback Darrell Green to the ground and broken free up the middle. With the ball nestled in his left arm, Haynes lit out for the end zone as Green, three-time winner of the NFL's Fastest Man competition, recovered and rocketed after him. Exactly 89 yards from the line of scrimmage, Haynes, untouched, was declared the winner. The whole thing was over faster than a long sneeze. Let us now pronounce Mr. Haynes the Fastest Man in the NFL in Full Gear Carrying a Ball.
Unfortunately, both Haynes and Green were injured later in the game (Green broke his right forearm and will miss at least four weeks; Haynes sprained his right shoulder and will be out at least one week) and were not around afterward to comment on their footrace. But here are a couple of friendly tips to the Falcons, whose run-and-shoot attack often seems to falter inside the opponent's 20 (as it did twice against the Redskins in the fourth quarter): Develop a running game—Miller led the ground attack Sunday with 13 yards—and throw the ball to Haynes a little more. Here's a guy who averaged an astounding 44.9 yards per touchdown catch last year. Keep tossing it his way and sec if the whole thing's a fluke.
It's likely the Redskins, who had 24 first downs to the Falcons' seven, are back to their old winning ways. But some of the questions raised after the Dallas loss still hang like a vapor. Has success made the Skins fat and happy? Do they want another ring badly enough to fight off all attackers? "I don't think the Super Bowl had an effect on us," says guard Mark Schlereth. "But maybe it did on players on other teams. They're not going to roll over and die for us."
As for the dismal showing by the offense against the Cowboys, Lachey blames it on the crowd noise in Texas Stadium. "I had to watch the defensive man to know when to move," he says. And even the special teams' play in that game was limited by circumstance. "Burgundy [the name of the punt return play with the lateral to Howard] would have worked against Dallas, too," says Sevier. "But I wouldn't call it because Desmond hadn't run enough returns yet."
There has been speculation that the large number of born-again Christians on the Redskins—including Gibbs—has somehow made the team too goody-goody and fatalistic to stay at the top of a brutal game. An article in the September issue of The Washingtonian magazine describes how one player has "heard the voice of the Lord" during practice sessions, how born-again players supposedly have a better chance of sticking with the team, how running back Byner (91 yards on 22 carries against Atlanta) was baptized into the faith in, of all places, Green's Jacuzzi.
Safety Brad Edwards, born-again himself, shrugs off such implied criticism. "Getting baptized in Darrell's Jacuzzi is not high on the list of things to do," he says. "I wasn't baptized there. This is just a heart thing. Remember, the people who were attracted to Jesus were drunks and prostitutes. How can it be divisive? Love God, love each other."
But who, besides his teammates, loves Rypien? The boos at RFK were a shock to him. He's wealthy now, yes, but hasn't he produced for the fans? A family man, Catholic, humble, he talked before the game about how he has always tried to be a good role model for kids. But maybe, he added caustically, he would be better off acting like a "butthole," like so many other athletes.
When he was asked why he thought the fans had booed him, he said, grim-faced, "I don't know. I really don't."
No wonder so many Washington players throw in with the Big Guy from Bethlehem. At least He doesn't dog you after one bad night in Texas.