Washington's 34-27 victory in Cincinnati had been over for 20 minutes last week when Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien was reminded about several hard hits he had taken during the afternoon.
Rypien, unhurt and very much aware, already was looking ahead to tonight's prime time matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles at RFK Stadium (Ch. 13, 9 o'clock).
"I'm just getting ready for Philly," said Rypien, grinning.
Buddy Ryan is long gone from Philadelphia, but his lasting legacy -- the NFL's most physical defense -- is still mowing down quarterbacks at a frightening rate.
The Eagles have rolled up a league-leading 19 sacks in the season's first four weeks. In one raucous afternoon in Dallas, they had 11.
Plundering the Hogs and sacking the Redskins quarterback isn't quite that easy, though. In two of their three meetings last season, the Eagles' fierce pass rush was held sackless by the Skins.
It was the other game -- the Black Monday affair at Philadelphia on Nov. 12 -- that earned the most notoriety, however. That was when the Eagles came up with three sacks and two interceptions and knocked two quarterbacks, Jeff Rutledge and Stan Humphries, out of the game. The Redskins finished a 28-14 loss with rookie running back Brian Mitchell at quarterback, and had to endure taunts from the Eagles about needing "body bags" for their wounded.
"It was hard to take," said Redskins defensive tackle Eric Williams. "There was a lot of bitterness after that."
Rypien, who escaped the carnage while rehabilitating an injured knee, said, "We weren't ready to play that week . . . we have to play well or it can happen again."
The Redskins can find their motivation in a number of areas tonight. It can come from the memory of that dark night in Philadelphia. It can come from the fact the Redskins are 4-0, and a victory will give them a two-game lead in the NFC East. Or it can come from playing the Monday night showcase in front of their peers.
One thing is certain: it no longer will come from Ryan, the former Eagles coach who was fired last January after suffering a wild-card loss to the Redskins.
"Buddy was a great motivator," Williams said. "He loaded our gun. I enjoyed the motivation, but I don't miss him at all. If you need that to play in a Monday night game, you're in the wrong business."
The business at hand for the Redskins is protecting the passer. The Hogs, the nickname for Washington's offensive linemen, have given up just two sacks this season, fewest in the league.
The key matchups pit right tackle Joe Jacoby against left defensive end Reggie White (four sacks) and left tackle Jim Lachey against right end Clyde Simmons (6 1/2 ). Jacoby and Lachey both enjoyed great success in the 20-6 wild-card victory.
Although the Eagles have a new head coach in Rich Kotite, and a new defensive coordinator in Bud Carson, they still use Ryan's aggressive scheme, including the "46" defense. That defense basically overloads the pass-protection scheme.
The Eagles achieve their high sack frequency at a price, though. By committing more men to the pass rush, they leave their secondary more vulnerable to the big play. And if Rypien has proven anything in his five NFL seasons, it's the ability to get the ball deep.
"They'll give us some chances," Rypien said of Philadelphia's defensive scheme. "We'll have to make plays from that."
Rypien may seek shelter from the pass rush in the safety of the Redskins' league-leading running game. With Earnest Byner averaging 4.7 yards a carry, the Redskins have gouged out 158 yards a game on the ground.
Tonight's game is made-for-television drama. The division lead is at stake, and there is bad blood between the teams, even if Ryan is in exile. When it comes to these two teams, there is no false bravado.
"They're tough guys and we're tough guys," said Redskins left guard Raleigh McKenzie. "Whoever is toughest is going to win."