Gibbs apologizes after Rutledge throws parting shot at Steelers

Redskins notes

November 18, 1991|By Vito Stellino and Ken Murray | Vito Stellino and Ken Murray,Sun Staff Correspondents

PITTSBURG — PITTSBURGH -- How well are things going for the Washington Redskins?

They're going so well that coach Joe Gibbs is now apologizing for scoring.

After Jeff Rutledge threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Sanders with 2 minutes, 5 seconds left in the team's 41-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday, Gibbs was quick to apologize to coach Chuck Noll after the game.

"That was not an intentional thing for that thing to go like that. If there's anybody I respect in the coaching profession, I'd like to wind up like Coach [Noll]. I felt kind of bad on that last one. He told me not to worry about that. He's a great guy," Gibbs said.

Rutledge was supposed to be throwing for a first down on a third-and-10 play when he unloaded the bomb.

Rutledge, though, wasn't apologizing.

"I felt good about it. I don't get to throw many when I get in there," he said. "I don't get many opportunities to play," he said.

* Earnest Byner, who was declared out of yesterday's game last Monday with a knee injury, managed to play, but came out at halftime after gaining 5 yards in nine carries.

But Byner said he didn't aggravate the injury and said it was good that he could play. "It probably did more good as far as the psyche. Everything's OK. You're able to play," he said.

Byner said his wife wasn't unhappy when the doctors told him last Monday he probably wouldn't play because she's expecting a baby any day now.

"She said, 'Maybe you'll be home when I have the baby,' " Byner said. The baby didn't arrive over the weekend.

* The Steelers tried a reverse on a kickoff in the second quarter when Rod Woodson handed off to Ernie Mills, but Mills gained only 11 yards.

Special-teams coach Wayne Sevier gave credit to Brian Mitchell, who saw Mills come on the field and alerted him. The Steelers tried to huddle around Mills before the kickoff to hide him, but Mitchell saw him coming on.

* Chip Lohmiller missed field-goal attempts of 32 and 36 yards and made tries of 36 and 41 yards. Sevier said Lohmiller has a sore back. It didn't help that the snap was low on the first miss.

* Wide receiver Gary Clark had only limited practice time last week because of a chronic hamstring injury, but he made two big plays in the second half.

His most spectacular play was a diving, one-handed catch along the Steelers' sideline. It went for a 37-yard gain and set up Gerald Riggs' second 1-yard touchdown run of the game.

"When you get a chance to make a big play, you've got to do it," said Clark, who had a step on cornerback David Johnson on the play. "I was able to get my hand on the ball and able to bring it in."

In the fourth quarter, Clark got behind cornerback Richard Shelton and safety Gary Jones to pull down a 49-yard scoring pass from quarterback Mark Rypien. "That made it a good day for me," Clark said.

It was a big day for all three members of The Posse. Art Monk had eight catches for 130 yards and one touchdown, and Sanders four for 67 with one touchdown.

"We're always pulling for one another," Clark said. "There's no jealousy on the team. We all know Art Monk is the best receiver on the team. I strive each day to come up to his level.

"The touchdown we were most elated about was Ricky's, though. He hasn't had any deep balls lately. It was a great feeling to see him score."

With 782 career catches, Monk needs 38 to pass Steve Largent for the NFL's all-time record of 819. Monk left the locker room before reporters were allowed.

* Typical of the Steelers' 4-7 season was a sequence at the end of the first half when they faced second-and-31 from the Pittsburgh 25. Quarterback Neil O'Donnell completed a 29-yard pass to tight end Eric Green to the Redskins' 46. Needing 2 yards for the first down, O'Donnell spiked the ball on third down to stop the clock at 1:10.

There was confusion getting the next play in, and the Steelers were forced to use their second timeout. The threat ended in futility when defensive tackle Jumpy Geathers sacked O'Donnell and forced a fumble.

"I thought we had the first down and I spiked the ball," O'Donnell said. "It was a mistake on my part."

O'Donnell, a former Marylandstar, threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns, both in the fourth quarter.

"We couldn't get anything going, really, especially in the first half," he said. "It was frustrating that first half. We just couldn't get in rhythm out there. It's hard to get an offense going when you're three [plays] and out. Give the Redskins credit. They held onto the ball pretty much."

Noll said O'Donnell's third-down spike came from inexperience.

"He wanted to get something called, so he spiked it," Noll said. "So we had to go and do what we did on fourth down. . . . We've got to get rid of the ball when we haven't got things instead of taking the loss. Those are things I think he'll learn. He shows signs of being outstanding."

* The Redskins converted a staggering 11 of 16 third-down plays (69 percent). The Steelers knew what was coming, but were unable to stop it.

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