Redskins on even keel with 20-7 win over Bears 6-0 record marks team's best start in Gibbs era

October 07, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Washington Redskins -- pro football's Good Ship Lollipop -- docked on the shores of Lake Michigan yesterday and loaded another victory.

For the Redskins, the 1991 season rapidly is becoming a calm trip through untroubled waters.

They boosted their record to 6-0 -- their best start in the 11-year regime of coach Joe Gibbs -- by defeating the Chicago Bears, 20-7, before 64,941 fans at Soldier Field, and then they talked about how close they are, how much camaraderie they have and how much they like each other.

If the Redskins were a movie, they would be rated G. While the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants are struggling with internal problems and are 3-3, the Redskins are enjoying a lovefest.

"Everybody feels good about each other," said linebacker Kurt Gouveia, whose fourth-quarter interception broke the game open.

"The chemistry is just something that just happens. You're happy to come into work. You just can't wait for the next day to come to be with each other," Gouveia said.

The Redskins' only setback came with 2 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first quarter when defensive end Markus Koch tore a knee ligament and was lost for a minimum of six weeks and possibly the rest of the regular season.

The Redskins parlayed excellent play by their big-name veterans and members of the supporting cast.

Start with future Hall of Famer Art Monk, who caught six passes, including two for touchdowns, and a critical fourth-down pass. He has caught 749 passes and is one behind Charlie Joiner, who's second on the all-time list with 750.

Wilber Marshall, in his first game at Soldier Field since he left the Bears as a free agent in 1988 as the $6 million man, sparked the defensive effort with 10 tackles and an interception.

But the cameo roles of Gouveia, Eric Williams, Fred Stokes and Kelly Goodburn were just as important.

Monk and Marshall are expected to make big plays, although it has taken Marshall four seasons to become the player the Redskins had thought he was going to be.

What seemingly is making this team so special is the way the role players are doing their jobs.

Gouveia intercepted a pass and blitzed Jim Harbaugh to ruin a fourth-down gamble; Williams tipped two passes and Stokes intercepted one of them; and Goodburn pinned the Bears back with his booming punts. He averaged 44.2 yards on five punts, including a 61-yarder.

"Everybody sorts of accepts their role," Gouveia said.

Center Jeff Bostic said, "I think everybody understands their role and does their job."

The victory enabled Gibbs to become the first coach to beat Mike Ditka of the Bears three straight times, but it wasn't surprising that Gibbs shrugged about that aspect of the victory.

"Our players did it. It was certainly nothing I did. It wasn't me or him," he said.

Gibbs, who always is worried that his team would be looking too far ahead, also tried to downplay the significance of the 6-0 start.

"The bottom line is that it doesn't get you anything. If we start thinking that we're better than we are, we'll probably get in real trouble. I think any team can beat us and I think we could probably beat any team, and I think that's the way it is in the NFL today," he said.

Ditka, who exploded after the Redskins routed the Bears, 38-14, in 1989, saying his team wouldn't win another game and that Donnell Woolford "couldn't cover anybody," was subdued after this game.

After saying the Redskins were the better team and deserved to win, he said, "I'm not telling you anything you don't know, and I'm not knocking anybody, [so] don't write it any other way than I said it."

Ditka still had some barbed comments.

After saying he might scrimmage his team, he said: "We might as well hit ourselves. We're not hitting anybody else that hard."

When asked how his quarterback, Harbaugh, played, he said: "I don't think he played any worse than their guy [Mark Rypien]. I'll be honest with you. If you think the other guy played good, I think he [Harbaugh] played good."

Actually, neither quarterback was especially effective. Rypien, who said he was bothered by the wind, completed 18 of 31 passes for 168 yards, although he had the two touchdown passes to Monk. Harbaugh completed 17 of 41 for 206 yards; three of his passes were intercepted.

The Bears had a 319-243 edge in yardage, and the Redskins had just one rushing first down.

On a day when both offenses sputtered and the fans spent much of the day sitting on their hands, the Redskins didn't get untracked until late in the second quarter.

Bostic said: "I think we were a little bit out of sync early in the game. It seemed like we were shooting ourselves in the foot. We were trying to crank the Harley."

They finally got it going in the second period and put together a 12-play, 74-yard drive that was climaxed by Rypien's 26-yard touchdown pass to Monk, who beat Woolford, in the right corner of the end zone to make it 10-0.

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