Redskins pay price for win over Falcons Green hurt, Rypien stews in 24-17 game

September 14, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins can't afford too many more victories like this.

The Redskins escaped with a 24-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons before 54,343 fans at RFK Stadium yesterday, but came out without cornerback Darrell Green and with quarterback Mark Rypien publicly feuding with their fans.

The game was a rather routine one except for three eye-popping second-period plays -- Desmond Howard's 55-yard run with a throwback from Brian Mitchell on a punt return, Deion Sanders' 99-yard kickoff return on the next play and Michael Haynes' 89-yard touchdown catch when he beat Green in a footrace to the end zone.

The injury to Green's forearm and the wounding of Rypien's psyche may turn out to be the most significant developments of the game.

Green, who signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract before the final exhibition game, fractured the radius bone in his forearm in the fourth quarter.

Dr. Charles Jackson said Green "took a direct blow to his forearm" when he dived at Mike Pritchard's legs. He'll be out for at least two months and could be out longer if he has to undergo surgery. He missed the second half of the 1989 season with a fractured left wrist.

A.J. Johnson will replace Green for the Redskins, who'll miss Green's one-on-one coverage ability.

The Redskins also have to worry about the mindset of their quarterback.

Rypien did a workmanlike job as the Redskins went back to a conservative run-oriented game plan after the no-huddle offense backfired in a 23-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Monday night opener.

He complemented the running game by completing 18 of 28 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, but was booed when he was introduced and when he misfired on a long pass to Gary Clark in the fourth quarter.

Afterward, Rypien took a shot back at the fans, saying they don't rate with those in Dallas last week.

Last year, the Redskins pounded the Falcons twice, 56-17 during the regular season and 24-7 in the playoffs. In the regular-season game, Atlanta coach Jerry Glanville tried to blitz throughout the game and Rypien responded by throwing for 442 yards and six touchdowns. Atlanta is 0-9 against Washington.

Glanville said he was going to go with an all-out blitz again, but Rypien wasn't surprised that he didn't dare them to go deep again by playing a soft zone.

"You could kind of sense it was a jab job going in, that it might have been a little bit of talk [about the blitz]," Rypien said. The way Rypien misfired on his only two long passes, Glanville might have been better off blitzing.

With the Falcons taking away the deep game, the Redskins were content to pound away on the ground and take the short stuff in the air.

"The main thing is we got back to our style of ball," Rypien said.

With a 13-1 edge in first downs in the first half and a 19-2 edge after three quarters, the Redskins should have won easily. They even fooled the Falcons by having Mitchell field a punt and throw back to Howard, who scooted down the left side for a touchdown in the second period.

Instead, they were ahead only 21-14 at halftime and 24-14 at the end of the third period. The Falcons stayed in the game on two plays -- Sanders' kickoff return and Haynes' touchdown catch when Green slipped and couldn't catch him on a second-and-19 play at the Atlanta 11. It was the Falcons' only first down of the first half.

Wayne Sevier, the Redskins' special teams coach, didn't blame his unit for the Sanders score. He simply saluted Sanders. The Redskins had the Falcons' blocking scheme covered on the left so Sanders broke to his right and did it on his own.

Sanders, who's been playing baseball with the Atlanta Braves, signed Thursday and wound up lining up on 52 of the 71 Falcons defensive snaps.

Sevier said, "I was thinking, 'My goodness, I don't have to worry about Deion,' and all of a sudden he shows up."

The plays by Sanders and Haynes kept the Falcons in the game, so the defense had to save it when Atlanta got first downs on the Washington 1- and 9-yard lines on two different drives in the final quarter.

The first time, the Falcons had to settle for a field goal that made it 24- 17. The second time, Kurt Gouveia's interception in the end zone preserved the win. The Redskins were helped by the fact that Atlanta's run-and-shoot offense doesn't operate well when it doesn't have room to maneuver close to the goal line.

Chris Miller tried five passes inside the Washington 9 on those two drives, missed on one and had a third-down pass intercepted by Gouveia.

Although Gibbs admitted the 1-1 Redskins are "still a long ways from where we want to be," he was more than happy to take the victory.

"Some people may not look at it that way, but it was a great win," Gibbs said. "Any win is a great win."

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