'Skins still have Eagles' numbers 16-12 victory not a thing of beauty

October 19, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Joe Gibbs didn't play in this one, but he seemed to think he did.

"I thought it was about as hard fought as any game I've been in or coached in," the Washington Redskins coach said after his battered team edged the Philadelphia Eagles, 16-12, before 56,380 fans at RFK Stadium.

This was NFC East football at its best and its grittiest. This was football for the purists. It wasn't pretty. It was a slugfest in the trenches.

"We had some players kind of beat up and chipped up, but they stepped up and did a great job," Gibbs said. "We had some guys who just played their hearts out."

The Redskins couldn't have had more things going against them. They were coming off a Monday night game and playing with a makeshift offensive line against an Eagles defensive line that is one of the best in the league.

But the Redskins did have a few things going for them. They're 19-2 on Sunday games after Monday night games under Gibbs, 10-2 in their last 12 home games against the Eagles and 11-4 in their last 15 games against the Eagles.

Gibbs didn't want to hear any of that.

"I'd rate this week as probably one of the hardest weeks I've ever had in coaching," Gibbs said.

When it was over, the defending Super Bowl champions were tied with the Eagles at 4-2 and only one game behind the 5-1 Dallas Cowboys.

Gibbs won't say they're back, but they're alive.

"Hey, we're 4-2. It's a weird way to get to it, but I'll take it. At least we've got a chance [to win the division title]. It would have been tough to be 3-3," Gibbs said.

The Redskins knew they'd be without left tackle Jim Lachey and center Jeff Bostic. One of their replacements, Ed Simmons, was hit by back spasms Thursday and they didn't know until the warm-ups that he could go.

They also didn't know if Simmons and Mo Elewonibi could stop All-Pro ends Reggie White and Clyde Simmons.

To show how dangerous they can be, they got two sacks in a three-play span late in the first half. White combined with linebacker Byron Evans on one and Simmons got the other one.

That was it. They didn't get another one.

"You need a strategy to try to help your guys. I don't think that anybody can block those guys if you get locked on them one on one enough," Gibbs said.

Their strategy was called a Triple Stack, putting a pair of tight ends -- usually Don Warren and Ron Middleton -- in the backfield in front of the running back and then switching them right before the snap to help out their young tackles, Simmons and Elewonibi.

"We did some formation things to keep them guessing," said quarterback Mark Rypien.

"They doubled Reggie and Clyde," Eagles lineman Mike Golic said. "They're a maximum protection team."

They also refused to concede the run, which Kansas City did last week when they upset the Eagles, 24-17, with the passing game. The Redskins gained just 2.5 yards a carry with 98 yards on 40 carries, but it was enough to make the Eagles respect the run.

The Redskins even came out with the no-huddle offense to throw the Eagles off-balance and it worked. They marched 61 yards in 11 plays, including eight straight running plays by Earnest Byner, for a touchdown on their first possession for the fourth straight game. Rypien capped the drive by rolling right and throwing a 10-yard scoring pass to Gary Clark.

Simmons said of the line play, "On that first drive, I thought we played as well as any combination we've had since I've been here. That [first drive] set the tone for what we did the rest of the day."

Rypien was lauded by Gibbs for not letting the inexperienced line bother him.

"I've seen quarterbacks looking and eyeballing and questioning and worrying about the rush. He stood in there and took a few hits and made some big plays," Gibbs said.

They got inside the Eagles' 20 five more times, but came away with just three field goals. The other two times, a Rypien pass was batted and intercepted and Chip Lohmiller was wide left on a 32-yard field-goal attempt.

The Redskins, though, were happy to get 16 points against the Eagles defense. "They're just not like everybody else," Gibbs said.

On the second drive, Rypien short-hopped a ball to Clark in the end zone.

"It's like an 0-2 pitch to a good hitter. The best spot is low and away and if you're going to miss, that's where you want to miss," Rypien said.

On another drive, he had Ray Brown wide open in the end zone on a tackle eligible play. But Terry Orr was the main receiver and by the time he threw to Brown, the ball was batted away.

It turned out that 16 points were enough because the Redskins defense handcuffed the Eagles. It shut down Herschel Walker with 8 yards on seven carries and although Randall Cunningham passed for 207 yards and ran for 39 more, the Redskins kept him in check.

Cunningham boosted his career rushing total to 3,683, breaking Fran Tarkenton's record of 3,674, but it was little consolation for the Eagles.

Cunningham saluted the Redskins, saying, "They have my scheme and my style down better than any team in the NFL."

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