WASHINGTON -- The National Football League is relentlessly protective of its image, even down to that disclaimer that runs during telecasts that forbids you from taping a game, inviting your friends over and charging them a price to watch.
But if there's any sense of humor at the league offices on Park Avenue, they'll gladly turn the footage of yesterday's Washington-Philadelphia game over to the folks at "America's Funniest Home Videos" so everybody can share in the joke that took place at RFK Stadium.
"What do you mean, it wasn't pretty?" said Washington defensive lineman Charles Mann, grinning in the glow of a 13-7 Redskins win over the Eagles. "It looked pretty from where I was standing."
Of course, when you've spent a good part of the afternoon standing over Philadelphia quarterback Randall Cunningham, as Mann and his linemates did, things do look pretty.
But make no mistake. This game was ugly, the kind of game that could keep youngsters away in droves.
Well, perhaps not that atrocious, but bad enough.
"It was a hard-fought physical game," said Washington coach Joe Gibbs. "It may not have been a lot of fun for the fans to watch, but I'm thrilled to get out of it with a win."
"I didn't think we were lethargic. I thought it was a good ballgame," said Buddy Ryan, Philadelphia's coach.
But can you reasonably trust the judgment of two men who spend large chunks of their time watching football films for enjoyment?
This is how disgusting this match between NFL playoff pretenders was: Cunningham put the ball in the air 42 times, completing half his throws.
Yet, Philadelphia's Jeff Feagles piled up more yardage punting, on seven kicks, than Cunningham did throwing (303 to 220).
Meanwhile, on the Washington side of the ledger, kicker Chip Lohmiller batted .333 in making two of six field goals.
While that's better than Jose Canseco or the rest of the Oakland A's did in the World Series, it hardly speaks volumes about the potency of the Redskins' offense or Lohmiller's accuracy.
On that subject, the three-year kicker from Minnesota was hardly overwrought about his misses, which came from 51, 48, 41 and 50 yards out.
"You can't get down on yourself for missing a 51- or 48-yarder," said Lohmiller, who connected on a field goal for the 26th consecutive game. "You've got to go back and make the next one. I'm hitting the ball well. I didn't really shank them. I just need to keep my confidence up."
All but the 51-yard miss hooked wide to the left, but Lohmiller, who hit from 33 and 39 yards, had lots of company. Eagles kicker Roger Ruzek missed his two attempts.
Cornerback Darrell Green draped his arm around Lohmiller after his fourth miss, trying to encourage him, and Green was the first player off the bench to run out and congratulate him after he connected.
"That's the perception that the world wants you to think," said Green. "If he misses the kick, he's a dog. He's still important to this team and he can still kick, as he has proved."
Although Lohmiller's two field goals were the margin of victory, the credit for this win had to go to the Washington defense, which did the seeming impossible: It kept a handle on Randall Cunningham.
That isn't the easiest thing to do for any defense, but has generally been tougher for the Redskins, who watched Cunningham throw five touchdown passes at RFK last year, three of them in the fourth quarter to give Philadelphia a 42-37 comeback win.
Yesterday was different. The Redskins kept Cunningham under control, largely containing him in the pocket under a heavy pass rush that produced five sacks.
"We really didn't contain Randall, but he didn't hurt us," said Mann, who sacked Cunningham for a 15-yard loss in the fourth quarter, only to have the sixth-year quarterback from Nevada-Las Vegas run for 28 yards and a first down on the next play.
"Every time he was back there taking the snap, I was under the gun," said Green, who was victimized for a late touchdown and just missed giving up a second score because of a penalty.
"They came up with a great defensive scheme. They were trying to flush me into the right side. It was a different scheme of trying to contain me," said Cunningham.
"Teams keep coming up with different schemes because they know that if I can get out of the pocket, I'm dangerous."
That's hardly an adjective to describe the Redskins' offense, which produced 321 workmanlike yards by air and ground, with only two plays of more than 30 yards.
Quarterback Stan Humphries (14 of 31, 200 yards) wasn't spectacular, but just efficient enough to get the job done, in only his third professional start.
Early in the fourth quarter, Humphries gave the Redskins a slight scare when he suffered a bruised left (non-throwing) hand, but he came back on the next drive to lead the team to a field goal.
"Stan Humphries really battled," said Gibbs. "I thought he broke his hand when he came off the field and that's why we had [backup quarterback] Jeff [Rutledge] start throwing.
"He's a young guy and has had to line up against the Giants and Eagles. That's a tough assignment."
And an ugly one, too.