WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins will take a dull victory over an exciting loss every time.
That's what they got yesterday, when they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 13-7, in a lackluster game that had none of the drama of the 42-37 classic the teams played at RFK Stadium last year.
The difference was the Redskins lost the 42-37 game. In football, there are no points for good form, so a drab 13-7 triumph was as good as a Picasso to them.
Wide receiver Gary Clark, for example, caught four passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns in that game, but was much happier to have four catches for 60 yards and no touchdowns and a drop in this game.
The victory reminded him of the way the Redskins played the last two times they made the playoffs, in 1986 and 1987.
"In '86 and '87, we won ugly, so I'll take it every time. Everybody's not totally excited, but we're glad to come away with a win. That's all that matters. Last year, we played great [in the 42-37 game] and we were in this locker room with our heads down," Clark said.
Yesterday, the Washington offense stalled most of the game. The Redskins got into scoring territory seven times and settled for one touchdown and six field-goal attempts by Chip Lohmiller, who got into the spirit of things by missing the first four of them.
The only unit that could be proud of itself on either side was the Washington defense. The Redskins handcuffed quarterback Randall Cunningham for the second straight game.
After beating the Eagles, 10-3, in Philadelphia last November, they had a shutout until Fred Barnett out-jumped Darrell Green in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 43 seconds left.
That was followed by the one moment of drama in the game -- the Eagles' onside kick. Art Monk went to the ground and scooped it up to wrap up the victory.
The Eagles were beaten but unbowed. It's not their style to concede anything, including defeat.
Coach Buddy Ryan said: "At least, we made them punt. The Giants didn't make them punt."
The Redskins didn't punt last week against the Giants, but lost, 24-20. They punted four times yesterday.
The Eagles blamed the officials for part of their plight.
"I'm not trying to be a crybaby or anything because the game was physical, but it just seems like they are watching us more closely than they were watching them," safety Andre Waters said.
Waters, who was fined an estimated $10,000 for going at the knees of Rich Gannon, the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, last Monday night, was on his best behavior on the field yesterday.
But linebacker Byron Evans got a 15-yard penalty for going to the head of quarterback Stan Humphries, a penalty that helped set up Lohmiller's 33-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and stretched Washington's lead to 10-0.
The Eagles, though, did have some complaints that might have been justified. They may have been a victim of their rowdy reputation.
A holding call on Ron Heller wiped out a 49-yard touchdown pass to Rich Barnett, Izel Jenkins was penalized for a skirmish with Ed Simmons and Wes Hopkins got an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for cursing when he came off the bench during a scuffle that the Redskins' Alvin Walton seemed to start by pushing Cunningham.
Cunningham suggested the Eagles are victims of the politics i football, and Hopkins complained that Walton should have been penalized for starting the fray by pushing Cunningham.
"Is that a penalty or what?" Hopkins said. "If I do it, if Andre does it, it's a penalty."
But the bottom line is that the Eagles are 2-4 and the Redskins are 4-2 as they prepare to play the unbeaten Giants for the second time in 15 days Sunday.
"We'll have to make the plays, or we'll be coming back here with our heads down," Clark said.
The one thing the Redskins did well yesterday was bottle up Cunningham. They sacked him five times and limited him to 21 of 42 passes for 220 yards, although he did run five times for 54 yards.
The Redskins did it by rotating Tim Johnson and Eric Williams, the two defensive linemen they obtained in trades during training camp, into the game to keep the linemen fresh for chasing Cunningham.
"He's amazing," Williams said of Cunningham. "He's so gifted. It might have looked easy, but it wasn't."
Williams said it's harder to rush Cunningham than a normal drop-back passer because of his scrambling ability.
"You have to keep one eye on your man and one eye on Randall," he said.
Johnson said it was vital that the linemen were disciplined and stayed in their rush lanes. "You can't do your own thing all the time or he'll take off," Johnson said.
Linebacker Monte Coleman, though, scoffed at the suggestion that the Redskins have solved Cunningham.
"He will run you crazy. Our defensive line played great today," he said.
Defensive lineman Charles Mann didn't want to take any plaudits. He said the key to the game was that the Redskins weren't guilty of any turnovers.
Redskins coach Joe Gibbs seemed to like that theory.
"The turnover ratio has got a lot to do with whether we win or lose. That's all we preach," he said.
In his third start, Humphries boosted his record to 2-1, although he completed only 14 of 31 passes for 200 yards.
"I don't care about my stats as long as we win," he said.
Discussing the way the Redskins' drives kept faltering, Humphries said: "It was a bad pass here, a mental mistake there that stopped the drives. We've got to quit stopping ourselves."
Humphries threw a 33-yard pass to Clark and a 44-yard pass to Monk to set up Gerald Riggs' 1-yard touchdown run in the second period. It was questionable whether Monk caught his pass as he slid to the sideline, but the Eagles were guilty of pass interference on the play anyway.
Humphries wouldn't take the credit for the passes to Clark and Monk.
"I really think that Gary and Art made the plays on those," he said.
Gibbs, noting the victory was the difference between a 3-3 record and 4-2 mark, said, "I think it was a big one for us."