WASHINGTON -- Bobby Wilson's timing was either impeccable or the Washington Redskins' rookie defensive tackle got away with one yesterday.
Wilson pounced on a fumbled Atlanta snap late in the first half and the ensuing Redskins touchdown helped pave the way to a 56-17 rout of the Falcons at RFK Stadium.
The Redskins held a 21-3 lead when Wilson pulled the defensive play of the game. Atlanta had first down on its own 23 when the Skins' first-round draft pick knocked center Jamie Dukes backward into quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver, who fumbled the snap. Wilson quickly jumped on the loose ball at the 19.
"I caught him as soon as he released the ball," Wilson said of Dukes. "I did push him into the quarterback. I knew he had moved the ball, and he knew he had moved the ball."
On the next play, Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien hit an uncovered Gary Clark in the end zone for a 28-3 lead. The turnover became even bigger when the Falcons scored two touchdowns to start the second half and cut the deficit to 28-17 before the Redskins put the game away.
Atlanta argued that Dukes had snapped the ball after being hit by Wilson in an effort to draw an offsides penalty. When the first half ended, Jerry Glanville went face-to-face in a pointed conversation with referee Dale Hamer at the 25-yard line, but to no avail.
Although the Redskins had some scary injuries, they don't expect any of the injured to miss next week's game in Pittsburgh. Most alarming, perhaps, were the sprained right knees suffered by running back Earnest Byner and defensive end Charles Mann.
Mann hyperflexed his knee while giving chase to Tolliver on the last play of the first quarter. He played for a brief time in the second quarter before being replaced by Jason Buck. He said he could have returned in the second half if necessary.
Byner was helped off the field with 3:56 left in the first half after a 4-yard run off-tackle and did not return.
Also hurt yesterday were tight end Ron Middleton (sprained left ankle), tackle Russ Grimm (sprained right ankle) and defensive tackle Tim Johnson (shoulder). X-rays were negative on all injuries.
The 56 points were the most scored by the Redskins since a 72-41 victory over the Giants in 1966 . . . The Skins' 559 yards of total offense and their 16 first downs passing were both season highs . . . Rypien's 82-yard touchdown pass to Clark in the fourth quarter was the longest completion of his five-year career. With four passes of 41 yards or longer, Rypien raised his average gain per pass this season almost a full yard, from 7.52 to 8.33 . . . The Skins are the 14th team to start the year with 10 consecutive victories. They've won 15 of their last 16 home games.