WASHINGTON -- For a game that supposedly had Super Bow overtones, yesterday's Washington-Houston clash was certainly full of mistakes.
Each team gave up the ball four times on fumbles and interceptions, at some of the most inopportune times.
"I saw it all pass before my eyes today," said Washington coach Joe Gibbs. "We had a chance to win, then lose, then win it again and then lose it again before finally winning."
The Redskins, for instance, nearly gave Houston the nail to puncture their balloon of invincibility as returner Brian Mitchell fumbled a kickoff with 1:33 remaining in regulation, after the Oilers had scored to tie the game at 13.
Mitchell, who has run back two punts this season for touchdowns, was drilled by linebacker Rick Graf at the Washington 23-yard line. Mitchell was bailed out when kicker Ian Howfield missed a 33-yard field goal with one second left and Redskins kicker Chip Lohmiller hit a 41-yard field goal in overtime.
"It happened and it shouldn't have," said Mitchell. "I just feel that you are not perfect all the time. I broke through and the guy knocked the ball out. But I was working my butt off. When Chip hit the field goal, it took a lot off my shoulders."
Lohmiller's kick was set up by Darrell Green, who made a diving grab of a Warren Moon pass intended for Haywood Jeffires with 12:38 left in the overtime period.
"I thought he hit me, but whatever he did, he made a great play," said Jeffires. "There's nothing I can take away from him."
"I thought I had a good break on the ball," said Green. "What I was more interested in was the replay."
On that subject, even the officials had a subpar day. The Redskins called a timeout in the first period to force replay official Bob Beeks to examine a play in which linebacker Andre Collins sacked Moon.
On a third-down play, Moon, who ducked Collins, fired a pass to receiver Drew Hill that was complete for 13 yards and a first down. However, replays showed that Collins had a hand on Moon as the quarterback's knee touched the ground.
"Everybody upstairs was screaming he was down," Gibbs said. "I called timeout and they went upstairs. If we don't call timeout, we don't get that call."
* BY THE NUMBERS: Art Monk made eight catches for 62 yards and has receptions in 125 straight games, the fourth-longest string in league history.
Meanwhile, Hill, who had nine catches, rang his string to 69 games, while his 83 receiving yards, made him the Oilers' all-time leader in pass receiving yards with 6,914, surpassing Ken Burrough.
Washington quarterback Mark Rypien surpassed San Francisco's Joe Montana, who is out with an injured
right elbow, as the NFL's winningest active quarterback by percentage with a 28-11 record. The Redskins have won 21 of Rypien's last 24 starts.
* PROTEST WATCH: As promised, a group of American Indians picketed RFK Stadium before yesterday's game, protesting the Redskins' nickname as offensive.
One woman was seen following a longtime Redskin fan, costumed in Indian headdress, asking, "Would you like it if they were named the Washington Blackskins?"