WASHINGTON -- There was only one consolation for the Washington Redskins last night: It was just an exhibition game.
If it had been a regular-season game, the Redskins' 24-21 overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns before 51,137 fans at RFK Stadium could have sent the team into a tailspin.
It was a game the Redskins seemingly had locked up when Terry Hoage intercepted a pass with 3 minutes, 26 seconds left and Chip Lohmiller then lined up for a 37-yard field goal with 1:50 left in regulation time and the Redskins leading, 21-14.
But Lohmiller missed, the Redskins blew the lead and lost the game in overtime.
Even for a preseason game, it was a bitter loss and Gibbs wasn't happy.
That's why wide receiver Gary Clark couldn't be pleased, even though he had caught a 49-yard touchdown pass in the second period and wasn't in the game when the Redskins blew it.
"First of all, you like to keep Joe happy and right now Joe is very unhappy. You could tell he was highly upset. He hates to lose. Any time Joe's not feeling good, we're not feeling good because we're going to catch the brunt of it all. We come out to win every game because Joe takes the preseason very seriously. The main thing is to keep the main man happy," Clark said.
The Redskins would like to think that it would have been different had Rypien and Clark played the whole game.
"We have to tell ourselves that if it were regular season, we would have won it. Whether it's true or not, we will have to tell ourselves that," Clark added.
The Redskins had to count the ways they blew this one.
They jumped to a 14-0 lead and were ahead, 21-14, when Lohmiller missed his field-goal attempt.
Despite the miss, all the Redskins had to do was stop an obscure quarterback named Todd Philcox from moving the Browns 80 yards in the last 106 seconds.
They couldn't. Philcox threw a 37-yard fourth-down pass to Tyrone Shavers to the Redskins 3 with seven seconds left.
After Philcox misfired on his next pass, he had four seconds left. He then threw a 4-yard pass to Mike Oliphant -- the player the Redskins traded for Earnest Byner in 1989 -- for the touchdown on the final play of regulation play.
Alvoid Mays, the victim on Oliphant's touchdown catch, was then beaten on a 40-yard catch by former Maryland wide receiver Vernon Joines on the first play of overtime.
That set up a 27-yard field goal attempt by Matt Stover, who was wide left to give the Redskins an additional chance.
But quarterback Cary Conklin fumbled the ball on the Cleveland 28 when he tried to scramble on third down and this time Stover made a 40-yarder to win the game.
It was a satisfying victory for the Browns' new coach, Bill Belichick, who was used to winning exciting games at RFK Stadium when he was an assistant coach with the New York Giants.
"The win feels good. We did a lot of good things out there. We came back from 14 down. It was a good team effort," he said.
For Gibbs, it was a night of frustration.
He tried to give Conklin a chance to win the backup job when he inserted him in the lineup in the third period after Rypien had led them to three touchdowns.
But Conklin completed only five of 16 passes for 70 yards, and he fumbled away the ball in overtime.
Gibbs wouldn't say whether Stan Humphries was still the backup behind Rypien.
"I think we could go any way," he said. "I'm not sure it changes anything. I'm trying to work my way through it."
If Conklin had played better, he probably could have won the backup job, but Gibbs is likely to stick with Humphries.
Meanwhile, Gibbs has a lot of other worries.
"There's so many lessons out there. We're just not playing real good in a lot of spots," Gibbs said.
He was particularly unhappy that Gerald Riggs, Ricky Ervins and Conklin all fumbled the ball away.
"You can stand up there and preach forever and ever and ever and guys go right out and throw that ball on the ground and [you] lose ballgames. You've got to protect the football," he said.
The pass defense wasn't good, either. Both Martin Mayhew and Mays were victimized.
"We just didn't play good pass defense. At the end of the game, we kind of more or less have it won and and we can't play pass defense," he said.
"We got to find away to overcome a lot of things," he said.
One thing he doesn't have to worry about is the play of Rypien, his starting quarterback.
He completed 10 of 18 passes for 113 yards including the long touchdown pass to Clark, who beat Frank Minnifield after the safety didn't give him deep help.
That catch gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead with the game less than 20 minutes old.