Redskins' Lachey has won the battles, lost the games Tackle has stopped Taylor, but Giants always prevail

October 23, 1991|By Vito Stellino

When offensive tackle Jim Lachey was traded by the Los Angeles Raiders to the Washington Redskins immediately after the first game of the 1988 season, he had one thought.

"The Redskins were playing the Giants in the first Monday night game of the year, so I was hoping I could come here and play Monday night and get two game checks [on the same weekend], but [former general manager] Bobby Beathard said, 'See you Wednesday,' " Lachey said with a smile.

As it turned out, Lachey has seen more than he wants to of the Giants.

When the Redskins play the New York Giants on Sunday night, it'll be his seventh game against them. He's 0-6 in those games -- one with the San Diego Chargers and five with the Redskins.

In Lachey's mind, that fact overshadows a statistic that he should be proud of. He's successfully taken on one of the toughest assignments in pro football the past two years: blocking Lawrence Taylor.

Taylor hasn't gotten a sack against the Redskins for four straight games. He got two in Lachey's first game as a Redskin against the Giants in 1988, but has been shut out since.

But Taylor hasn't played in a losing game against the Redskins since he broke Joe Theismann's leg in 1985. There was some feeling that the Giants defense lost a little fire in that game after Theismann suffered his gruesome injury.

Since then, the Giants are 8-0 against the Redskins in the non-strike games Taylor has played in. The Giants are 1-1 against the Redskins in the two he missed, one with an injury and one because of a drug suspension.

Taylor also seems to savor playing against the Redskins.

In his book, "Living on the Edge," Taylor wrote after the team's 1986 Super Bowl season: "I happen to love playing the Redskins. They're physical, the way we are. They play very hard and clean and they don't mess with your head. When we play them, it's eleven guys against eleven guys and the stronger will survive. I love playing the Redskins."

Taylor hit Jay Schroeder so often that year that Taylor said he felt Schroeder was "shellshocked" after he had beaten Joe Jacoby several times.

Taylor hasn't had those kinds of days against Lachey, who savors the challenge of going against the best.

"It's going to be a big challenge. It's also an opportunity if you can go out there and play well against a guy like that. It's good for you," Lachey said.

When they tangle Sunday night, it'll be another matchup to be watched. A battle of maybe the best outside pass-rushing linebacker in history against one of the best left tackles in the league.

There's not much talking between the two players.

"He doesn't talk much," Lachey said. "If you have a good block on him, he'll say, 'Good block.' I've been out there in the Pro Bowl with him and he'll just say, 'Hey, Lachey, how ya doing.' It's just kind of like a 'What's going on?' type of thing. He doesn't really talk about our personal battles."

Lachey made the Pro Bowl after the 1989 and 1990 seasons, and another good performance against Taylor could help send him to Hawaii again this year.

"I think it helps [in the Pro Bowl balloting to stop Taylor]. He's a great player. He's sort of been the standard in the league for the last 10 years," Lachey said.

Lachey, who has started 31 straight games for the Redskins, has shut out Clyde Simmons of the Philadelphia Eagles and Richard Dent of the Chicago Bears this year.

He did get two penalties against the Eagles, one that wiped out a touchdown pass from Mark Rypien to Art Monk, but offensive line coach Jim Hanifan says he was the victim of bad calls.

"He's having an outstanding season. He's at the top of his game," Hanifan said.

Of his play against Taylor, Hanifan said: "He played well against Lawrence, as well as a guy can play against an all-timer. Lawrence has a great heart along with great natural athletic ability and great natural football instincts that just set him apart from anybody else who's ever played the game."

Lachey has some help against Taylor. They often double-team him with a tight end, and Lachey doesn't take him all day because Taylor moves around so much.

But Lachey has been so effective that the Redskins are quick to say that Taylor hasn't lost anything at age 32. Gibbs became irritated last year when a Washington writer said how well Taylor had been stopped by the Redskins the previous year and suggested he might not be the force he had been.

It was just a coincidence that in the Giants' game a week ago, Taylor got caught upfield because of his quick rush and was beaten on some draw plays in the fourth quarter by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"That normally starts right about Redskin time," Gibbs said. "They start calling Taylor some names and saying he's through. We've heard that one before."

L Hanifan said he's seen no signs that Taylor is slowing down.

"That's a false rumor," Hanifan said. "I thought there was a chance [he was slowing down]. I was hoping there was [evidence], but I didn't see it [on videotape]. He's a Hall of Famer, is what he is."

Lachey agreed.

"He looked like he was playing men against boys out there," he said.

Tale of the tape

Jim Lachey ..... ..... ..... ..... Lawrence Taylor

..... ..... Position........ ROLB

6-6.... ..... ..... Height.... ..... 6-3

290.... ..... ..... Weight.... ..... 243

29..... ..... ..... Age... ... ..... 32

7...... ..... ..... NFL years....... 11

16..... ..... ..... '90 games....... 16

16..... ..... ..... '90 starts...... 16

2...... ..... ..... Pro bowls....... 10

1st round,... ..... Drafted......... 1st round,

1985..... ... ..... ....... ........ 1981

(12 overall)....... ....... ........ (2 overall)

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