Redskins attack last shot with gusto Optimism reigns on final drive

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

PHILADELPHIA -- The Washington Redskins had been there before.

They had been parked at the wrong end of the field with time running out, and had turned adversity into opportunity.

They had been at destiny's door, only to turn a set of bad circumstances into a happy ending.

Yesterday, on a rain-slick turf at hostile Veterans Stadium, the Redskins found themselves on their 10-yard line with 3:35 left and the Philadelphia Eagles leading 17-13.

Victory was 90 yards away, but the Redskins at least had history and Joe Gibbs' marvelous two-minute offense on their side.

Adversity?

"It was positive all the way down the field," wide receiver Ricky Sanders said. "We knew we'd get it in."

Wide receiver Gary Clark said, "Everybody was trying to pep everybody else up. We were saying we can do downfield -- we did it before and came through in that situation. There's a good possibility we should have come through again today."

Eighty-five yards later, after the Redskins had rumbled to the Eagles' 5, destiny turned a cold shoulder on this Redskins' comeback when Philadelphia's Eric Allen batted down a

last-ditch pass in the end zone.

"We had some opportunities that gave us a chance to win at the end," Gibbs said, "but we couldn't make the last play."

From the 10, the Redskins moved downfield in steady gulps. There was a 10-yard pass from Mark Rypien to Clark, an 8-yarder to Earnest Byner, then a 12-yard run by Byner.

There was a fourth-and-one plunge by Rypien, a 19-yard pass to Ricky Ervins, in the flat, and an attempt by Rypien to hurdle Eagles safety Rich Miano after a 9-yard gain.

Then, after Rypien plunged for another short-yardage first down at the Eagles' 20, the Redskins took their third and final timeout.

"We got in some tough situations on fourth-and-one and third-and-one, and ran a lot of clock off there," Rypien said. "Our clock management wasn't as good as we'd like to have."

Still, they were on the Eagles' 20 with 35 seconds left, setting the stage for the climactic finish.

On first down, Rypien under-threw Ervins on a short circle route. On second down, Clark made a diving attempt in the corner of the end zone, but the ball came loose on contact with the ground.

On third down, Rypien tried the same play to the right side, but found Clark covered and threw the ball out of play.

On fourth-and-10 with 21 seconds left, Rypien threw to Ervins in the flat again and the second-year running back danced to the 5. The Eagles celebrated prematurely, thinking they had stopped the Redskins. One Eagle even kicked the ball.

But the officials stopped the clock to move the chains and Rypien spiked the ball to stop the clock with two seconds remaining. That gave the Redskins "one free shot," as he called it, to win.

But his desperation pass for Clark was batted away by Allen. And the playoff berth went to Philadelphia.

The final pass play had three options: Sanders in the flat, Art Monk in the corner or Clark running a drag route underneath.

Rypien never had time to look for Sanders or Monk because defensive end Reggie White was pressing close. So he went to Clark running free over the middle on the third option.

"It's one of the ones you like to zip in there and knock him [Clark] out of the end zone," Rypien said.

But Rypien hit tackle Jim Lachey's helmet on his release and the zip was gone, along with the victory.

Allen was the hero, not Clark.

"The whole drive was a real solid effort by a group of guys who never quit," Rypien said.

Close, but no comeback.

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