Clark picks himself up after early drop Two TD catches help Redskins win

Redskins notes

October 28, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For Gary Clark, it started out like a nightmare revisited.

The Washington Redskins' wide receiver had the only scoring chance in the first half against the New York Giants when he beat Perry Williams deep in the second quarter.

When Mark Rypien put the ball in his hands, it seemed likely he would make an over-the-shoulder catch for a 67-yard touchdown play on a third-and-8 play at the Washington 33.

But Clark dropped it and instead of trailing the Giants 13-7 at halftime, the Redskins were trailing 13-0. Clark walked the sidelines in frustration after the drop.

It wasn't the first time this has happened to Clark in this stadium.

In the 1986 NFC title game, he was wide open when Jay Schroeder threw a pass that had touchdown written all over it before Clark dropped it.

The Redskins lost the game, 17-0, and the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.

But this time, Clark came back. After missing another possible touchdown catch in the end zone in the third period and then having a touchdown catch nullified, he came back to make two touchdown catches on third-down plays to help the Redskins beat the New York Giants, 17-13.

The first was a seven-yard play and the second was a 53-yard catch when he beat Everson Walls to put the Redskins ahead 14-13 with 12:50 left in the game.

On the one he missed in the first half, "I just took my eyes off it. I

looked at the end zone, I looked at the ball. I was pretty sure it was going to be a touchdown. It was a childish play on my part because the first thing a receiver is taught is to look the ball all the way in. Sometimes when you're trying to make a big play, you make stupid mistakes. Hopefully, if I don't look the ball in next time, I'll still catch it," he said.

"It wasn't pretty, but it really was gratifying. After six losses to this team, we're happy to come away with a W. We're happy to be 8-0," he said.

When he caught the 54-yard game winner in the fourth quarter, he said, "I really wasn't thinking about the first one. I was making sure I was going to catch the ball. I know if I would have dropped that one, it would have been hard to go back to D.C. I would have had to change addresses and everything. It would have been hard."

Clark said he didn't try to put the drop behind him. "I try to keep it with me. It lets you know you messed up. You've got to give yourself a good tongue-lashing. I get paid a lot of money not to drop the ball. If you let it go, you'll liable to do it again and I don't want to do it too many times or I'll be pushing a broom somewhere."

Clark said it wasn't the same as his drop in the 1986 NFC title game. "It did go through my mind. This one there was no reason for dropping it. That game I was hurt. The wind was blowing really bad. This game I felt fine. I just got too greedy and I wanted a touchdown really bad and took my eyes off the ball. It was just something I had to overcome."

* Wilber Marshall came up with his fifth interception of the season on a pass Brad Edwards tipped with 14 seconds left to wrap up the game. Three of his five interceptions have come at the end of the game. The first two at the end of the game were against Chicago and Cleveland.

"I was just lucky to be around the ball. I told my wife that I was going to get one for it. This was it. I had a feeling I was going to get one. If you have that feeling, you'll get it," he said.

* Rookie defensive lineman Bobby Wilson was thrust into the game on the second play of the fourth quarter -- a third-and-1 play at the Giants' 29 -- when Eric Williams suffered a neck injury.

He promptly broke into the backfield and threw Rodney Hampton for a six-yard loss, forcing the Giants to punt and set the stage for Mark Rypien's game-winning, 54-yard pass to Gary Clark.

"I just ran the defense and got into the backfield and there he was. It was basically there and I took advantage of it. We ran a play that was slanting and I beat the guard to the hole and made the play. It feels really good that I can go in and contribute and make something happen. I'm just waiting my turn," he said.

Wilson, who finished the game, savored the victory even though he wasn't part of all the losses to the Giants. He said, "I feel really great and really privileged to be on a team that's been losing to the Giants were for so long and now we've basically got that monkey off our back. It feels really good," he said.

* The Redskins' defensive players were wearing T-shirts calling them the "Capital Punishment Crew."

* Redskins running back Earnest Byner, who gained only nine yards on eight carries in first half, changed his shoes at halftime after slipping twice in first half on slick turf.

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