WASHINGTON -- Maybe coach Jimmy Johnson is still too new to the NFL to understand a basic axiom.
The third-year coach of the Dallas Cowboys doesn't seem to understand that teams rarely try to challenge Darrell Green, the league's fastest man.
"Darrell's a great player," Johnson said of the Washington cornerback. "[But] if you stay completely away from him, we'd play into their hands. We've got to go to our strengths even if it is against a great player," Johnson said.
Johnson also noted that if you always throw away from Green, you've always throwing into double coverage.
The Johnson strategy worked yesterday, as Michael Irvin caught nine passes for 130 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown catch against Green.
Green said: "I'm certainly humble and I'm certainly in a mode of respect for them. But I won't be climbing a tree or anything. Hey, the next time I expect to win."
How did he rate his performance?
"Just this side of poor," Green said.
Coach Joe Gibbs had no second thoughts about the strategy of having Green play one-on-one against the best receiver while they double cover the other receivers.
"We've been pretty much doing that for 10 years. We kind of live with Darrell Green over there. We may have lost this time, but I'd say that with this formula, we've probably won a bunch. I like Darrell Green. I like his chances on anybody," Gibbs said.
* Linebacker Matt Millen, who was on the San Francisco team that started off 10-0 last year, wasn't surprised the Redskins didn't get the perfect season.
Millen said: "It's just too tough. I shouldn't say this because [Don] Shula and his 1972 team won't like it. But if this season were 14 games [the way it was in 1972], you'd have a different feel about this game because you're that close. But we still had five games to go. The only thing that changes is now you guys will have to find another angle to write about. If you're going to be successful, you've got to win at the end."
Millen hopes this year's ending doesn't match the 49ers' finish last year. They lost the NFC title game to the New York Giants on Roger Craig's fumble.
* In the wake of his masterful relief performance, Cowboys quarterback Steve Beuerlein resisted any temptation to criticize his old boss, Los Angeles Raiders owner Al Davis.
Beuerlein spent a year in Davis' doghouse in Los Angeles after a contract dispute before being traded to the Cowboys last summer.
"I don't care if Al Davis was watching [or not]," he said after generating 10 fourth-quarter points in relief of injured Troy Aikman. "In Al Davis' terms, it was fun to be driving the car again."
Beuerlein was supplanted by former Redskins quarterback Jay Schroeder with the Raiders. But he is 2-0 against Washington, having quarterbacked a 38-8 victory over them in Los Angeles in 1989.
* Cornerback Martin Mayhew, who is usually the target of opposing team's passes, intercepted a pass by Aikman in the first quarter and ran it back 31 yards for a touchdown.
"It was a zone coverage and I just read it and I got a good break on it," he said.
* Linebacker Andre Collins took the blame for fumbling an on-side kick in the second quarter that the Cowboys recovered.
"You can never recover a fumble if you're standing straight up. You've got to get down. I didn't get down on the ball. You're never going to recover anything like that," Collins said.
* Defensive back Kenneth Gant taunted the Redskins crowd at times by giving them the thumbs-up sign and waving for them to cheer.
"That's the kind of thing I do. I'm enthused. They were giving me thumbs down. I went thumbs up. Back in Dallas, I'm always getting the crowd into it. I was pumped today," he said.
biggest loss you ever had. You win one and it's the biggest win you ever had.
* The only serious injury the Redskins suffered was a sprained knee that knocked out tight end Ron Middleton.
At three-quarter speed
Through three quarters, the Cowboys were dominating the Redskins, something not reflected totally in the final statistics because of Washington's fourth-quarter drives. The stats after three periods:
. .. . .... . .. .Dal. .. . . . Wash.
First downs. . .. 17. .. . .. .. 5
Plays. . . . ... .60. . .. . .. 33
Rushing yards. .. 102. .. ... . 31
Passing yards. ...225. . .. ... 76