SAVING THEIR SKINS
"On our bus to the stadium you could hear a pin drop," said Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel after Washington's 10-3 victory at Philadelphia on Sunday. "We're not usually like that. But we had fear in our hearts, fear of losing."
No wonder. Entering the game the Skins had gone 11-14 since winning Super Bowl XXII, they had lost to the woeful Cowboys at home the week before, coach Joe Gibbs had said he thought he might lose his job if the losing continued, Washington fans were catatonic, running back Gerald Riggs was out with a foot injury, and three of the five starting offensive linemen wouldn't play against the Eagles—who were second in the league in sacks with 38—because of injuries. To make matters worse, on Washington's fourth offensive play, tackle Joe Jacoby tore two ligaments in his left knee and was lost for the season. That made the neo-Hogs, from left to right, Ed Simmons, Raleigh McKenzie, Jeff Bostic (the lone remaining regular starter), Mark Schlereth and Ray Brown. Schlereth said he didn't have to be a Hog to be happy and christened himself a piglet.
That makeshift line held Philadelphia to two sacks, backup running back Jamie Morris rushed 38 times—the second greatest number of carries in a game in Redskins history—for 88 yards, and Washington held the ball for 37 minutes. In addition, several young players, particularly Simmons and rookie tight end Jimmie Johnson, shone for Gibbs, who has long been known as a play-your-veterans-till-they-drop coach.
"Where this leads us, I don't know," Gibbs said afterward. "We're all right for another week, I guess. But it doesn't mean the hard times are over. It's like fishing. You sit out there in the boat for a couple of hours and don't get anything. Then you get one hit, and you're back in it."
To get back in the NFC East race, the Redskins, who trail the division-leading Giants by three games, need more than a hit. They need lots of them, especially from some new players. Maybe this was a start.
FISH OF THE WEEK
Still don't take the Dolphins' playoff chances seriously after their 31-23 defeat of the Jets? Maybe this will persuade you: None of 6-4 Miami's remaining six opponents has a winning record. "In my three years here, we struggled to get to .500," says linebacker John Offerdahl. "But I'm smiling now. I think that everyone on this team realizes our playoff potential."
What the Rams did to the Giants on Sunday was amazing. Not only did L.A. beat New York 31-10 to snap a four-game losing streak, but the Rams also outrushed the Giants 150 yards to six and outsacked them 4-0. What's more, New York's vaunted young secondary gave up 18 consecutive completions to quarterback Jim Everett. Since 1985, the Giants have lost only three of 70 regular-season games by 14 points or more. Two have been to the Rams in the past two seasons.
This comes under the heading, Your Cash Ain't Nothing but Trash. Phoenix quarterback Tom Tupa (1989 salary and bonus: $145,000) led the Cardinals to a 24-20 win over Dallas and quarterback Troy Aikman ('89 salary and bonus: $2 million).
STATS OF THE WEEK