Already the Redskins had shown the magic of their organization. Old Art Monk had caught his 821st pass, looking 21 instead of 34, in the process, and Mo had passed his first test. The Hogs were snorting away like the surly, intelligent beasts for whom they have been named.
"This team is tight," Mays had said before the game, citing a closeness that helps the Skins remain an NFL power, despite being everybody's favorite target and playing in a division that probably has three of the five best teams in the league. "But the most important part is having good people and talent. The Redskin organization can see things in players other people can't see, and no matter who you are, you become part of the plan."
As proof of that, Mays, who used to have troubling dreams about conveyor belts endlessly pelting him with 64-ounce bottles of orange juice, snuffed a Philly drive just before halftime by intercepting a Randall Cunningham pass. Washington's lead was only 10-3 heading into the third quarter, but it was clear the Eagles had run into a stronger and deeper team than they were on Sunday. Washington has so many specialists that it even has a designated cheerleader, reserve center Matt Elliott (the last player taken in the 1992 draft), who climbs onto the bench and exhorts the RFK crowd each time an opponent gets near the end zone.
Indeed, RFK is such a Redskin-friendly home—Washington has won almost 80% of its games there in the last decade—that it's too bad team owner Jack Kent Cooke is in such a frenzy to build a new stadium. What he wants is more seating and sky-boxes (read: cash). His proposal to have a stadium built at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Va., was recently shot down with great glee by organized opponents. "David beat Goliath," boasted Virginia State Representative James P. Moran in the Washington Times.
Wherever the Skins play, they no doubt will remain Goliaths. And the media will continue to look for signs that the team, which started this season 2-2, is shot, over-the-hill, shrinking. "One week we're the worst team ever, then it's, Here come the Redskins!" says Rypien, who has been up and down himself this year. "Hey, make up your minds."
All right, here come the Redskins. For now.
They extended their lead to 16-3 on Chip Lohmiller's second and third field goals of the day, and then turned the defense loose to keep Philadelphia from working a miracle. The Skins intentionally took a safety when punter Kelly Good-burn backed out of the end zone on fourth down with three minutes to go and Philly out of timeouts. That made the score 16-5. Cunningham marched the Eagles 53 yards, throwing a six-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Calvin Williams to make the score 16-12, and that's how the game ended.
Simmons finished with four tackles and one sack, but it wasn't Mo's job to block him on the sack. In fact, in a workmanlike overall performance, Mo displayed a certain stick-to-itiveness in carrying out his assignments. During the drive that set up Lohmiller's second field goal, Mo did a good job of riding Simmons around Rypien, enabling Rypien to get off a 51-yard pass to Ricky Sanders. For the day the Hogs gave up only two sacks, for a total of six in six games, fewest in the league. After the game, Simmons patted his foe on the helmet. "He's got a future ahead of him," Simmons said later. "A bright one."
Not all the Eagles were so gracious in defeat. "Our special teams were garbage," said linebacker Seth Joyner. "The defense gave up too many big plays. The offense—just mention the words Washington Redskins, and it falls to pieces."
In the Skins' locker room Mo patiently accepted his newfound celebrity, answering questions about the pronunciation of his name (ella-wa-NEE-bee), his ethnic background (father black, mother white; Mo writes "black" for himself on forms but says, "I'm a human") and his Saturday night pregame activities (watched Mad Max, again). Earlier he had said, "It crossed my mind that I might have an NFL career and never play."