Excitement catches up to Mitchell Late fumble puts team in deep hole

December 21, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- When the Philadelphia Eagles kicked off with 3:35 left in the game against the Washington Redskins yesterday, Brian Mitchell had one thought: touchdown.

"I was thinking, 'Hey, let's take it back,' " he said.

But Mitchell, who returned the opening kickoff of the game 43 yards, fumbled and the Redskins wound up on their 10-yard line. They then marched 85 yards and fell 5 yards shy of the end zone in a 17-13 loss.

"Everybody wants to be a hero and I wasn't really thinking about being a hero, but every time, I think I can take it back," he said. "On that play, I just got a little too fired up. I didn't concentrate on the ball all the way in. When the ball hit me, instead of bringing my arms together, I tried to take off, and it slid right through me. I have a habit of getting too hyped up."

It was the second critical mistake Mitchell made in the game. The first was when he fumbled a punt in the third period.

"I took my eye off the ball and when I looked again, the ball was over [me] and I tried to reach out and it basically bounced off my hands," he said. "When I tried to bring it in, I got hit."

Although Mitchell got a chance to play as third-down running back late in the first half, he said, "I can't really be happy about anything today. I'm very hard on myself. I'm very critical of the things I do, and I made two bad plays and they might have cost us the game."

Schlereth on bad knee

Guard Mark Schlereth keeps playing on a bad knee every week even though he hasn't been able to practice for a month.

"It needs to be operated on," Schlereth said. "It hurts 24 hours a day seven days a week."

Schlereth has postponed the surgery, trying to make it through the season, but he said he's now gone to the coaches and left the decision in their hands. If he has surgery right away, he could be back for the playoffs in two weeks if the Redskins make it.

"It's really up to the coaching staff," Schlereth said. "I've kind of put the ball in their court. I wouldn't mind getting it done because it hurts all the time. If they feel my presence is needed for this week's game, that's fine, too."

The Redskins have to decide whether they want Schlereth healthy for the playoffs at the cost of sitting out at least a week.

"It'd be nice if we get in the playoffs to feel healthy, to be able to be on top of my game," he said.

Defensive lineman Charles Mann also is trying to make it through the rest of the season with an injury to his left knee.

"Mark and I have been nursing them [knee injuries] for weeks," Mann said. "I've been trying to deny it, but right now it's killing me, but hey, I've been through it before."

The other players on the injury report were Ricky Sanders (sprained ankle), Mitchell (sprained foot), Andre Collins (bruised ribs), A.J. Johnson (sprained shoulder), Danny Copeland (calf strain) and Darrell Green (heel bruise), but they don't appear to be serious injuries.

Edwards surprised

Safety Brad Edwards said he was frustrated that he and A.J. Johnson let Calvin Williams catch an under-thrown touchdown pass when Williams was double covered in the third period.

"We had great coverage, and usually when you have that good a coverage, you're relying on the coverage making him [Randall Cunningham] not throw the ball there, and when he did, it really kind of surprised me," Edwards said. "I should have just looked back a second earlier."

Learning experience

Alvoid Mays got a personal foul after Mitchell's fumbled punt in the third period when he was the third player in a scuffle.

"You just have to have more poise," he said. "You live and learn."

Facts and figures

Earnest Byner got 93 yards to boost his season total to 963. He needs 37 more yards to become the first Redskins player to get 1,000 yards in three straight seasons and the 11th player in league history to reach that figure at age 30 or over. . . Art Monk caught one pass to boost his career total to 944 and his streak to 147 straight games. . . . Gary Clark's four catches gave him 544 in his career, moving him to 20th on the all-time list. He passed Kellen Winslow's figure of 541.

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