TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Washington Redskins simply played perfect second half.
They scored on every possession after halftime and first-time starter Stan Humphries proved his mettle as an NFL quarterback as the Skins thumped Phoenix, 38-10, last night at Sun Devil Stadium.
The win raises the team's record to 3-1 and sets up a showdown in two weeks with the first-place Giants in the NFC East.
"That's the best we've played in the second half," said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. "That's our best this year." Gibbs even told Cardinal coach and former Redskins' assistant Joe Bugel after the game that, "This might be the best game we've played in a long time."
After slogging through a lackluster first half, the Skins came out in the second and put together what might be the finest half of football to be seen all year. To wit: On the Skins' five possessions of the second half, they scored four touchdowns and a field goal. On the Cardinals' first four possessions of the half, the Redskins allowed just one first down and 21 total yards.
Humphries, in his first start in the NFL, completed 11 of 12 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns during the dream half.
"I think it's a real big confidence booster for me," Humphries said. "I knew I could play up here and it's just a matter of getting out there and showing you can play."
For the game Humphries was 20-of-25 for 252 yards with no interceptions and two touchdowns, both of which went to Gary Clark from 42 yards out. On the first, with the game tied at 10, Humphries pump-faked to Clark on a hitch pattern and lofted a perfect spiral over the head of defender Cedric Mack as Clark spun around Mack and sped toward the end zone. Clark finished with eight catches for 162 yards.
"All night we were throwing hitches out there and basically they started trying to bite on some of them," said Humphries. "So we just stuck one in to twirl on him and luckily it worked for us."
Helping set up the long touchdown throws was the return of a formidable running attack, led by Gerald Riggs. He exceeded his previous season total of 83 yards with 95 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown, the first rushing touchdown by the Redskins this year. Riggs, who played his college ball on this field for Arizona State, was happy to be back in the focus of the attack.
"That's what I've been looking for this whole season since I've been back," Riggs said. "I've just been waiting to get in."
Not to be forgotten in the second half manhandling was the performance of the offensive line, which allowed no sacks and consistently opened holes for Byner and Riggs. "They got fired up," said Riggs. "When those guys get fired up it's a thing of beauty. When you pass the line 2 or 3 yards before anybody touches you, it gives you a little more of an opportunity to make something happen."
Phoenix went to the locker room with a 10-7 lead. On Washington's opening possession of the second half the Skins settled for a 26-yard Chip Lohmiller field goal. Prior to the field goal, Humphries had his only misfire of the second half when he overthrew an open Clark in the back of the end zone.
From then on Humphries would be perfect, hitting six of six the rest of the way in leading the team on four consecutive touchdown marches, including a 1-yard touchdown run of his own, the first of his career. Gibbs cautiously praised Humphries' performance, perhaps considering the opponent.
"I think Stan, for the first time out, had a solid game," said Gibbs. "The first half was a little shaky . . . he missed a few things, but he came back in the second half."
For Humphries, was it a dream come true? "I think so," he said. "I've dreamed a long time for it to come. All I really wanted before the game started today was just a win. It didn't really matter how I performed as long as this team won."