WASHINGTON -- There aren't many times when a footbal coach likes to see a player loaf on the field.
But Wayne Sevier, the Washington Redskins' special teams coach, wishes that Johnny Thomas had loafed when Sean Landeta of the New York Giants tried a pooch punt with 3 minutes, 47 seconds left yesterday.
"The players should work hard on their blocks and their coverages until they get to the 20, and then you should pull up unless you know where the ball is. It's the one time you want people to loaf or even run off the field," Sevier said.
Thomas raced downfield and Landeta's punt bounced and hit him on the lower leg inside the 5 as Walter Stanley was faking a fair catch and hoping the ball would bounce into the end zone.
Instead, Reyna Thompson of the Giants recovered it on the 1. Even though the Redskins held the Giants to a field goal, they boosted their lead from 21-20 to 24-20 lead.
The Redskins now needed a touchdown instead of a field goal to win. Greg Jackson's interception snuffed out their last rally.
Thomas took all the blame for forgetting Sevier's rule to stay away from the ball inside the 20.
"I was just so keyed up, I was trying to get Reyna out of the way. I just messed up. I lost track of where the ball was, and I wasn't supposed to be there in the first place," he said.
Thomas, who was playing in only his second game for the Redskins this year since being signed when Wayne Davis was waived three weeks ago, said, "I just messed up."
Thomas and Thompson played together in college at Baylor and he planned to talk to him after the game. But he had trouble getting out of the locker room because he was busy explaining his mistake.
* In his second start for the Redskins, quarterback Sta Humphries said, "It was a big challenge and without the three interceptions, I think I came up to the challenge."
On his first interception, he seemed to throw the ball right int the arms of Pepper Johnson, who was covering Kelvin Bryant.
"I read my first two guys, and they weren't there so I came back to Kevlin and the guy [Johnson] had his back to me. He never turned his head around, and I threw the ball hoping he'd never turn around and Kelvin could catch it. But he turns right around and it hits him right in the stomach. You shouldn't throw the football there," Humphries said.
His other two were picked off by safety Jackson in the fourth period.
On the first one intended for Jimmie Johnson, Humphries said, "I felt I had Jimmie, but the safety came up from the right sideline and I guess he read my eyes back through the middle of the field and made a great interception."
On the last one, he said Jackson made a good play on a pass intended for Ricky Sanders.
On the Redskins' first two possessions, they got to the Giants 25 and 12, but got only three points on a Chip Lohmiller field goal because he missed his second attempt, a 30-yarder.
Humphries blamed himself for not getting into the end zone because he said he was "cautious" throwing the ball because he didn't want to risk an interception.
* Jim Lachey, who had help at times, wasn't taking any credit for stopping Lawrence Taylor without a sack.
"He's a great player, and he just keeps on coming," Lackey said.
About playing well against Taylor, he said, "It doesn't matter [when you lose]. A win is what it's all about in this league. I'd rather play poor and win than play great and lose. We didn't get it done as a team."
* The Redskins benched second-year lineman Mark Schlereth and started Raleigh McKenzie in his place at left guard to improve their blocking. They often make offensive line changes against the Giants -- in 1987 they shifted Russ Grimm to center against them -- but they still have trouble finding a way to beat them.
* The Redskins had four players injured: wide receiver Joe Howard and middle linebacker Greg Manusky each had a sprained knee and a sprained shoulder, guard Russ Grimm had muscle spasms in his back and middle linebacker Kurt Gouveia had a pinched nerve in his shoulder. None of the injuries is believed to be serious.
* New York fullback Maurice Carthon huffed and puffed his wa down field on his 63-yard third-quarter pass reception before being grabbed from behind by Washington's Darrell Green.
"I looked around and I saw Darrell Green, and I said, 'Oh, Lord,' " Carthon said. "I knew the guys would say something about me being pulled down from behind . . . except if it was by Green."
* The Giants were impressed by Washington quarterback Humphries, who was making his second start.
"The kid kept his poise back there," linebacker Taylor said. "He really hurt us with his scrambling, too."