Giants go down, but throw scare into Redskins Rypien forced out, is OK in 34-17 win

December 16, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- For the Washington Redskins, playing the New York Giants is like taking a roller-coaster ride.

The Giants always manage to take the Redskins' breath away.

Even when the Redskins finally managed to sweep them for the first time in a non-strike season since 1983 with a 34-17 victory in a meaningless game at RFK Stadium, the Giants managed to give them a scare.

The Giants knocked out quarterback Mark Rypien and the Redskins had to wait a few uneasy minutes for the X-rays to be taken before they found out the injury won't sideline him for the playoffs.

As Rypien unloaded a 50-yard touchdown pass to Gary Clark on a fake reverse on the first play of the final quarter, he broke the fingernail on the middle finger of his throwing nail when he appeared to hit Leonard Marshall's hand as he released the ball.

The Redskins, though, didn't know if he'd broken or jammed the finger.

They were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief after X-rays revealed there was no break. Although the injury is likely to be quite painful for the next few days, Rypien is expected to be ready to play in the regular- season finale Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles and open the playoffs in three weeks.

"I don't know what happened. I don't know what I hit. I look downfield for throws and sometimes I don't see what goes on [at the line]," he said.

What did he think when he suffered the injury?

"I looked at the nail and said I got a boo-boo," he said.

When Rypien was told that trainer Bubba Tyer said he would put it in his treatment book as a broken finger nail, Rypien said jokingly: "I'll probably get a get a sling for it. I might have to elevate it tonight."

Although Rypien tried to joke about it, he did concede that at first, "It looked ugly because the nail's bent back and there's blood on it."

But he then tried to brush it off.

"It looked like something one of our offensive linemen gets every blocking play," Rypien said. "They come back and you see their uniform's almost bloody. I look at it and I almost pass out. I've never had one of these. Some guys say they're painful and some guys say, 'Get your butt back in there.' "

Rypien said he wants to play against the Eagles next week. "I want to be as sharp as possible going into the playoffs," he said.

Jeff Rutledge finished up the last quarter after Rypien went out, completing three of four passes for 40 yards.

Rypien left with nine completions in 19 throws for 230 yards and three touchdowns, including 65- and 50-yard passes to Clark.

There was some debate about what Rypien was doing trying a long pass in the fourth quarter with a 27-17 lead instead of just protecting the lead by handing off.

Rypien, though, knows the philosophy of coach Joe Gibbs. The Redskins don't play it safe. They tried to cross up the Giants with a no-huddle offense even though nothing was at stake.

"You look at the score," Rypien said as he explained why the Redskins were throwing deep in the fourth period. "They took it right down the field and scored in less than a minute and a half [3:02] and now it's 27-17 and I don't question that [call] at all. You don't go out there and mill around. You try to go for the jugular and that's what we did."

Gibbs said: "We just wanted to play hard. We wanted to put us in the best shape to play well in the playoffs."

Rypien's injury added the only piece of a drama to the meaningless game between a 14-1 Washington team that has clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a 7-8 Giants team that has been eliminated and shows all the signs of having lost its edge coming off a Super Bowl year.

Linebacker Matt Millen said the Redskins weren't much more emotional than they were last week when they fell behind Phoenix, 14-0, at halftime before rallying to win, 20-14.

"It kind of felt the same," Millen said. "It really did. I didn't like the feel to this game. They probably felt the same way. The mentality is kind of like a preseason game. I hate to say that because we tried to convince ourselves [to play hard]. The good thing about it is that we did what we had to do to win, but we certainly weren't on an emotional peak or anything like that. Me personally, I played terrible in that first quarter. I don't know what I was doing."

The Giants started off with a 13-play, 67-yard drive, but had to settle for a 36-yard Matt Bahr field goal after Howard Cross and Rodney Hampton dropped passes.

The Redskins struck on their second play for a 65-yard touchdown pass from Rypien to Clark, but it was really a short pass that turned into a touchdown when Myron Guyton and Mark Collins missed tackles. Clark, gracious in victory, said the grass was slippery and they lost their footing.

The Redskins were forced to punt on their next two series while quarterback Phil Simms directed a 43-yard touchdown drive in eight plays that put the Giants ahead 10-7 early in the second period.

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