Clark sees victory slip from his grasp xTC WR catches only frustration on two game-winning bids

December 21, 1992|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- As Gary Clark waited for the winning touchdown pass to arrive in the end zone yesterday, he had exhilarating thoughts.

"I was thinking it's an easy catch. I was thinking touchdown," the Washington Redskins wide receiver said later in the locker room.

"But Eric stepped in front and made a great play. And I go from thinking touchdown to, 'Oh . . . whatever.' "

The game ended not with exhilaration for the Redskins, but with disappointment. It ended not with a playoff berth in hand, but mathematical probabilities.

It ended with Clark on his knees, waiting for a pass that never arrived because Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Eric Allen had knocked Mark Rypien's throw to the ground.

It ended with a 17-13 defeat for the Redskins that was oh so close to being a classic for the second straight week.

"We had our chances," said Clark, who was the target on two of the best chances the Redskins had.

Twice in the final 32 seconds, he had opportunities to catch a game-winning touchdown pass from Rypien.

On second-and-10 from the Eagles' 20 with 32 seconds left, he ran a corner pattern in the end zone. For an instant, he was open. And for an instant, he had Rypien's pass on his fingertips.

But when Clark hit the ground, the ball bounced out of his hands. Incomplete.

"It was a good throw from Ryp," Clark said. "Low and away. The defensive back couldn't get it. [But] I wasn't able to turn my body to make the pass catchable. I left my feet thinking this was six . . ."

Four passes later, after a 15-yard completion to Ricky Ervins put the Redskins at the 5, Clark was thinking six again.

With two seconds left, he ran a drag route underneath the Eagles' secondary. He was the third of three options for Rypien. But because the Eagles' Reggie White had pushed into the backfield, Rypien unloaded early -- for Clark over the middle.

That Allen made the play was a source of great puzzlement for Clark, who had four catches in the game but none longer than 10 yards.

"I give them credit for being in the right place at the right time," he said. "Wherever he came from. He hadn't been on me all day. He had been playing Ricky [Sanders] inside.

"Usually, with that type of flow, I'm stepping back from it. It was hard for them to get to it. He must have broken toward the open man."

Allen said he was looking for that particular play, a Redskins favorite. And when he caught sight of Clark running toward an open spot in the Eagles' zone defense, he gravitated to him.

Any chance Rypien had of getting the ball to Clark probably was erased when his hand brushed the helmet of tackle Jim Lachey on his release.

"Because the helmet was in the way, I didn't get a lot on the ball," Rypien said.

Clark added the epilogue: "Hopefully, that's the last of our bad luck for the year."

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