WASHINGTON -- National Defense?
As nicknames go, it may not match the Steel Curtain and the Purple People Eaters, but defensive lineman Charles Mann said it's going to get the Washington Redskins some attention.
"We felt like we hadn't gotten the respect we deserved. When we played the Philadelphia Eagles, everybody talked about the Eagles' defense. Hey, they are a great defense," he said.
The Redskins defenders decided they needed a nickname.
"We got a name for ourselves, called ourselves the National Defense," Mann said. "We knew once we got a name for ourselves and started kind of wearing shirts and hats and talking about it, it was fine and dandy with Coach [Joe] Gibbs as long as we were winning. If we didn't take care of business, he'd put a stop to it all. That was kind of a motivating thing for us."
The defense proved itself in the NFC title game yesterday, when it dominated the Detroit Lions in a 41-10 rout to earn a trip to the Super Bowl.
Mann set the tone when he forced a fumble by Erik Kramer on the second play of the game that set up the Redskins' first touchdown.
Mann also got a sack and got good penetration to help Jumpy Geathers block Eddie Murray's field-goal attempt in the third quarter that would have made it 20-13. The Redskins then drove for a touchdown that put the game away.
"That was a huge play," Mann said of the block. Jumpy Geathers actually got that. I was jumping up and down like I got it, [but] I didn't get it.
"I was over the center and got as low as I could, and Monte Coleman got his hands on my hips, and as soon as they snapped the ball, he just shoved me in there. I started raising up. I was about 7 1/2 feet tall. I had my hands extended. "As he was trying to kick the ball, he sees this big, old massive person in front of him. I thought he just shanked it trying to kick it away from me. I think that did have something to do with it," Mann said.
When Mann had a sack later in the game, he almost got into a hassle.
"I got the sack, and I was trying to hurry to get to my feet to do a little celebration, and [Kevin] Glover, their center, pushed me back down. So I got a little upset and Tim [Johnson] wouldn't let me get mad," Mann said with a smile.
Johnson grabbed him until he calmed down.
* The Redskins almost broke the game open in the first period, when Alvoid Mays appeared to recover a fumble and return it for a touchdown. They not only didn't get the touchdown, but they also didn't get the ball. The officials ruled the Lions recovered.
"I'm still trying to figure out how we could get a touchdown and wind up not getting the ball," said Richie Petitbon, the assistant coach who runs the defense.
Mann said: "That was a touchdown. Alvoid Mays did score. All that was the referees for that instant didn't have control of the game. They didn't know where the ball was. "I jumped for the ball, Jumpy Geathers jumped for the ball. A couple of their offfensive linemen dove for the ball. One of their offensive lineman jumped on top of the ball. As soon as he landed on it, it spit out from underneath him, and Alvoid got it and took off running.
"The referees come running in and blew their whistle. Alvoid Mays is 30 yards down the field before they blew their whistle. We were yelling, 'Look, the ball's not in there. It's down there.' They thought he took it after they blew the whistle. When they see it on the replay they'll realize it."
* The Redskins stopped the option play because they knew when it was coming. They heard Kramer calling "Red 19" for the option play when they watched the Lions' game against the Dallas Cowboys last week, and the Lions used the same call this week.
Mann said: "They have those mikes on the field. I heard the quarterback on a play against Dallas say, 'Red 19, red 19,' then they ran the option." Normally, the offensive teams change their hot colors. We practiced that all week long." Well, (when) we got into the game, we were trying to find out what their live color was, and they stuck with red. They used Red 19 one time and so everybody said 'Option, option, option,' and we stuffed it."
Kramer got 4 yards in four carries and had to miss a play when Ravin Caldwell hit him in the head as he went down on one option run.
* Petitbon said he's interested in a head-coaching job, but that he's not bothered that no team is calling him.
"I'm certainly interested. Wouldn't you be interested in a raise. [But] nobody in authority ever called me," he said.
Does that bother him?
"I never worry about things I have no control over. That's a fact of life. Nothing wrong with the job I have," he said.
One of his problems is that he doesn't take credit for the team's success. He says he just calls things when he has a feel.