Geathers is moving force with 'Forklift' maneuver

November 18, 1991|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Correspondent

PITTSBURG — PITTSBURGH -- Charles Mann calls it a "warehouse move," Jumpy Geathers calls it "The Forklift" and the Washington Redskins yesterday called it a godsend.

Playing without Mann, their top pass rusher, the Redskins' defensive line sacked Pittsburgh's Neil O'Donnell five times and pressured him throughout a 41-14 rout of the Steelers.

Leading the charge was Geathers, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound reserve defensive tackle whose biggest contribution to most games is to supply inside pressure on the quarterback. But yesterday, Geathers delivered two second-quarter sacks, one of them causing a fumble, as the Redskins opened a 17-0 halftime lead.

"What he did today was great for the fans to see," said Mann, the right end who was sidelined with a stretched ligament in his right knee. "We see that every day in practice."

What 56,813 fans at Three Rivers Stadium saw -- without knowing it, perhaps -- was one of the rarest of pass rush moves in the NFL. Geathers calls it "The Forklift." He wraps his arm around a blocker and shoves him back toward the quarterback.

"I use it on guys who get too high," said Geathers, who also had three tackles. "I try to pick the whole guy up and walk him back."

It is a move he developed in 1986 while with the New Orleans Saints.

"Nobody in football can do it," Mann said. "If I tried it, by the time I'd get to the quarterback, the game would be over."

Redskins offensive linemen have gotten a taste of "The Forklift," too. Said center Jeff Bostic: "Jumpy is an exceptional person with the length of his arms, and he is a strong person to be that angular. He's got a knack for getting the move sunk on you."

Geathers used the move on guard Tom Ricketts late in the first half to get an 11-yard sack on O'Donnell. Four plays later, he used a swim technique to drop O'Donnell 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage and force a fumble that was recovered by Redskins cornerback Martin Mayhew.

The second sack came with 53 seconds left in the half, on what was only Pittsburgh's second play in Redskins territory, at the Washington 46.

"I'm really a pressure man," said Geathers, an eight-year veteran with 33 1/2 career sacks. "That's why Coach [Joe] Gibbs got me."

Geathers, with 2 1/2 sacks and 15 quarterback pressures going into yesterday's game, was signed as a free agent in 1990 after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his right knee.

Now he is a contributing member of the Redskins' overachieving defense. When Jason Buck replaced Mann at right end yesterday, the Redskins were starting six of 11 defenders who had been acquired through Plan B free agency or who had been cut.

Buck, signed as a free agent in October, and tackles Eric Williams and Tim Johnson, acquired in separate trades a year ago, also had sacks.

Only two starters on defense, cornerback Darrell Green and linebacker Andre Collins, were Redskins draft picks. Mann, who expects to play next week against the Dallas Cowboys, also was drafted.

"Coach said we needed to pick it up today with Charles out," Geathers said.

He and "The Forklift" were happy to oblige.

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