ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Brian Mitchell of the Washington Redskins won the debate yesterday.
"Their kick returner [Vernon Turner] was saying he was the best. I didn't tell him I'm the best. I don't have to say it. I feel if you have to say it, you're not. That made me want to show him he's not the best. I had some good returns, and I tried to be on every tackle," he said.
Mitchell wound up returning three punts for 66 yards and two kickoffs for 60 yards for 126 yards in the game. He went in leading the league in punt returns, and Turner was eighth. Turner returned three punts for 18 yards and four kickoffs for 44 yards.
Mitchell, though, said Turner's comments were just part of football.
"I talk a lot of stuff during the game, so I understand it," Mitchell said. "When he went out of bounds [in the fourth quarter after a 4-yard gain], I told him, 'That's very stupid. If you were the best, you wouldn't make mistakes like that.' I think today we really showed we are the best. I think I'm one of the best talkers in the world. I don't let things rattle me."
Wayne Sevier, the special teams coach, who had been worried about Mitchell's fumbling, said Mitchell got the green light before the game not to fair catch and "go for the throat." Mitchell called for a fair catch on only one punt.
Mitchell said, "They gave me a chance to be myself. It may be stupid, but I hate to fair catch. [Former Redskin] Mike Nelms used to catch them at any time, and I think I'm just like he is. I want to catch and try to score. I wasn't thinking about fumbling, because for weeks I've been holding onto the ball right.
TH "I think now I'm back into my old self. You're going to see a lot of
big returns. I have a burning desire to bring something back to the house [touchdown] before the season is over," he said.
* REALITY CHECK: When quarterback Jim Everett of the Rams was asked if the season was a nightmare, he said: "It's all reality. Hopefully, we can all face it and learn from it in the future, whoever's here."
When he was asked if he expected a lot of changes in the offseason, he said: "After consecutive seasons like we've had, it's only logical there would be changes. I can't say what it is, if it's players, coaches, whatever. You just anticipate those things. We all do as players."
* SWEET 16: Running back Ricky Ervins, who grew up in Pasadena and played at USC, had something of a homecoming in his first game at Anaheim Stadium. He had 16 relatives at the game and gave the ball with which he scored a touchdown to his 5-year-old nephew, Brandon.
"I promised him I'd score one for him three weeks ago," he said with a smile.
* THREE IN A ROW: Wide receiver Ricky Sanders, who is trailing Art Monk and Gary Clark in catches this year, caught a touchdown pass for the third week in a row. He has 39 catches; Monk has 57 and Clark 56.
But Sanders said he doesn't mind that the other two receivers are ahead of him.
"I'm pretty happy as long as we're winning," he said. He said he'd even punt if it would help the team win.
* WRITE STUFF: When a Baltimore reporter told coach Joe Gibbs that, in the first half, the Redskins seemed to be trying to prove hispoint that they can lose any week, Gibbs said, "I thought of you in the first half."
When he was asked if he should be thinking about reporters during games, he said: "I think that's the first indication I've probably done this too long. I think I ought to chuck this in."
He then said, "I'm still pulling for a team in Baltimore [so Baltimore reporters wouldn't cover the Redskins]. I think that's the best thing that could happen to us."
* RAM TOUGH? The Rams' fans are unhappy. There were 12,794 no-shows, and, by the end of the game, most of the fans in the stands were rooting for the Redskins.
Among the signs in the stadium were: "Please Georgia, sell the team," "Sell the team" and "All we want for Christmas is a new front office."
Georgia is owner Georgia Frontiere, who was left the team by her late husband, ex-Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom.