Redskins help Millen add to winning record Linebacker enjoyed 32-5 mark as 49er

September 24, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, Va. -- A 4-0 start is nothing special for Matt Millen.

The veteran linebacker, in his first season with the Washington Redskins, started off 9-1 and 10-0 the past two seasons for the San Francisco 49ers.

But Millen, attempting to earn a Super Bowl ring with his third team (he won two with the Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders and one with the 49ers), likes what he sees of this Redskins team even though he admits it's not a team that dazzles you.

"I guess what you fall guilty of is that you don't line up and see a plethora of great players," he said. "You don't have all the great names, but I'll tell you what, you don't find anybody working harder. They're playing their rear ends off. I think this is starting to look like a good team."

Millen knows good teams the way Bo knows commercials.

"Howie Long [of the Raiders] told me I was born with a horseshoe on my back," he said.

When the Raiders cut him two years ago, Millen signed with the 49ers and went 32-5, including the playoffs the past two years.

After the 49ers left him unprotected on Plan B, he signed with the Redskins.

Adding the four wins with the Redskins, his 36-5 string has to be the best individual mark in the game right now because the 49ers are 2-2 this year.

Millen got a lot of credit from Cincinnati Bengals coach Sam Wyche for tackling Harold Green on a second-and-10 play from the Cincinnati 2 late in the final quarter. The Redskins stuffed the Bengals on the next play, got good field position after the punt and went on to score the winning touchdown in a 34-27 victory.

Wyche said if Millen hadn't made the play, Green would have gone 98 yards for a touchdown.

"That's ridiculous," Millen said, but he conceded, "That thing opened up on the film." Millen said it might have gone for a first down if Green had gotten by him, but he was stopped for a 2-yard gain.

"I just filled the hole," Millen said. "On that play, you just become a running back on the defensive side of the ball, look for the first hole and fill it. He saw the hole and I saw the hole and I made the tackle. For that to happen, everybody has to do their job up front."

On third down, the Bengals tried the same play and the Redskins stopped it for a 1-yard gain.

"On third down, we just stuffed them," Millen said. "Everybody across man-for-man, we just beat them up. The whole front pushed them back.

"That was a big series. That was fun. I really enjoyed that."

The Redskins coaches passed out a lot of accolades after the game, particularly for the blocking on the special teams on Brian Mitchell's 66-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Wayne Sevier, the special teams' coach, said the key is that the Redskins kept their best special teams players from last year and added Terry Hoage and Danny Copeland and have had excellent blocking. He said Martin Mayhew helped spring Mitchell with a good block and John Brandes, Hoage and Copeland all made good plays.

Although he thought Mitchell would do well this year, Sevier said, "He's beyond what you expect."

The Redskins face a pair of pivotal games in the next two weeks against the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears.

Naturally, he's worried.

Even though they're leading the league with 146 points, he's already concerned about the Eagles defense.

"We're probably going to have a tough time scoring Monday night," Gibbs said.

NOTES: Gibbs was sympathetic about the plight of the officials in trying to call a game in which the Bengals are playing the no-huddle offense because it's hard to keep track of the game when the Bengals making quick snaps. "I think that kind of a game is a nightmare for the officials," he said. . . . But Gibbs didn't agree with the 36-yard interference call on Mayhew in the third quarter and said he told Mayhew during the game not to let him get it down. . . . Markus Koch may miss the Eagles game with a sprained knee. . . . CB A.J. Johnson and TE Don Warren are eligible to return from the injured reserve list. Johnson is ready to play, but the Redskins may delay making a move because they're unbeaten.

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