Redskins romp, shut down Eagles and rusty Ryan McMahon hurts knee early in 23-0 loss

October 01, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Can you believe this home-field advantage?

The Washington Redskins have a special one this year. They keep playing home games against teams that are missing their star player.

They blanked the Detroit Lions, who played without Barry Sanders, in their home opener. They blanked the Phoenix Cardinals, who played without starting quarterback Timm Rosenbach, in their second home game.

They made it a trifecta last night, when they blanked the Philadelphia Eagles, 23-0, at RFK Stadium before 55,198 fans, including Vice President Dan Quayle, to boost their overall mark to 5-0.

That's three home games and three shutouts. It's the Redskins 102, the opposing teams 0 at home this year.

But the Eagles not only came in without starting quarterback Randall Cunningham, they lost his replacement, Jim McMahon, late in the first quarter.

McMahon sprained a knee ligament when he scrambled out of bounds on a third-down play. His former Chicago teammate, Wilber Marshall, got credit for the sack because he was the closest player to McMahon. McMahon will have a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test today to determine the extent of the damage.

"I started to run, and as soon as I took off, my knee gave out," McMahon said, although he didn't appear to come up lame until he reached the sideline.

McMahon never has an injury-free season.

"We have to pick it up on offense. It doesn't matter who is playing quarterback, we have to move the ball," McMahon said.

It seemed to matter, though, when Pat Ryan is the quarterback.

Once McMahon went out, the Eagles had to go to Ryan, who hadn't thrown a pass this season or last. They didn't have time to scrape the rust off him.

"It has to affect you when you lose your second quarterback," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "It throws everything off. We realize that."

But he lauded his defense for holding the Eagles to 89 yards of total offense, the first time the Redskins have held a foe under 100 yards since 1960, a span that covered 444 games.

"I'm really proud of defense," Gibbs said. "Our defense played extremely hard."

It was easy to play defense against Ryan, who threw 14 passes, seven of which were caught -- four by the Eagles and three by the Redskins. Darrell Green got two of the interceptions.

Ryan was called out of retirement by the Eagles after Cunningham was injured in the opener because he was familiar with coach Rich Kotite's system from the days when they were both with the New York Jets.

Playing for the first time since 1989, he completed four of 14 passes for 24 yards.

"I was disappointed that after Jim got hurt, we didn't turn it up a notch on offense. I don't think we played to our level of intensity on offense," Kotite said.

But it's difficult to play well on offense when the quarterback has trouble completing a pass.

The Redskins won easily even though Mark Rypien struggled for the first time this season. He showed flashes of the inconsistent Rypien of past years, as he threw two interceptions, fumbled four times and lost two of them.

"I don't feel I played real well," he said. "We definitely had some breakdowns. You want to perform well, but our team won, and that's the important thing."

After Jeff Bostic went out with a slight Achilles tendon strain, Rypien fumbled two center-exchange snaps with Russ Grimm before Raleigh McKenzie moved to center.

Grimm took the blame, but Rypien said: "It's all mechanics. We did some bad things. I'm not blaming Russ or myself. It just happens."

After McMahon left, the Philadelphia defense seemed to sag, as the Redskins jumped to a 10-0 lead in the second period.

The game then seemed to fall apart during a weird exchange late in the first half. First, Green intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 24 yards to the Philadelphia 28.

On the next play, Byron Evans appeared to intercept a pass and ran it 42 yards to the Washington 27 before he fumbled out of bounds while being chased by Joe Jacoby.

The instant replay official overturned the call, ruling the ball hit the ground before Evans caught it. After a 10-yard holding

penalty on Jim Lachey was tacked on, Washington got the ball back on the Philadelphia 28.

On the next play, Seth Joyner intercepted a deflected pass aimed for Gary Clark.

Three plays, three turnovers, including one that was overturned.

That sort of summed up the sloppy game.

The Eagles had one chance to get back in the game when Rypien stumbled, fell and lost the ball on the third play of the third quarter. Wes Hopkins recovered on the Washington 10.

But on second down, Green picked off a pass intended for Kenny Jackson in the end zone.

For all practical purposes, it was over then, although the Redskins added 13 points, including a 27-yard field goal by Chip Lohmiller with 11 seconds left. It was surprising that Gibbs went for it, but he noted points can be a tie-breaker.

The way the Redskins are going, they're not going to have to worry about tie-breakers. They have a two-game lead in the NFC East over the Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys.

"I've never been 5-0 before," said Byner, who ran for 95 yards on 29 carries.

It's only the second time the Redskins have started off 5-0 in Gibbs' 11 years as a head coach.

Their next home game is in two weeks against the Cleveland Browns. Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar is advised to be careful.

NOTES: DB Alvoid Mays, who suffered an ankle sprain, may have been the most seriously injured Redskins. The other injuries: Jacoby (knee sprain), DT Tim Johnson (bruised hip), Bostic (strained Achilles tendon) and DE Fred Stokes (bruised shoulder). . . . DE Markus Koch, who had hoped to sit out the game, had to play once Stokes was injured. . . . This is the first time since 1945 that the Redskins have had 3 shutouts in a season. They've never had 3 straight home shutouts.

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