Redskins fall, but not KO's yet Playoff hopes hurt as Raiders rally in last minute, 21-20

December 27, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins, who are the Not-Ready-For-Playoff-Time Players on the field, now have just one last shot to make the playoffs off the field.

Because of their 21-20 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders on Vince Evans' 3-yard touchdown pass to Tim Brown with 13 seconds left yesterday at RFK Stadium, the Redskins can make it only if the Green Bay Packers lose to the Minnesota Vikings today.

The Vikings are at home and favored by 2 1/2 points, but they've clinched a playoff spot as NFC Central champions and have nothing to play for; the Packers (9-6) have won six straight and can earn a postseason spot with a victory or a tie.

By contrast, if the Redskins (9-7) had won, they also could have made the playoffs with a victory today by the Philadelphia Eagles over the New York Giants.

The Redskins will be rooting for the Vikings, but they know they may have let the playoffs slip away.

"This was one of the biggest heartbreakers we've had around here. I thought we had it won a couple of times, but that's life in the NFL," said coach Joe Gibbs.

Tight end Ron Middleton said, "I'm still in a state of shock. I can't believe we lost it. What can you say?"

Defensive lineman Jason Buck said, "It's so frustrating. I can't put it in the right words. It's a heartbreaker. It's a game that everybody in the country was counting on the Redskins to win. The Raiders weren't playing for anything. . . . It's been a frustrating year with the adversity we've been through."

If the Packers win, the Redskins can't even complain about the tiebreakers. The Packers will have done it the old-fashioned way, with a better record.

Looking back on the season, Gibbs said, "The best we could get was 9-7. I'll remember that everybody fought hard. We had great effort, but we came up 9-7."

For the second straight week, the Redskins' outcome came down to the final moments.

Last week in Philadelphia, the offense couldn't make the play when Eric Allen batted away Mark Rypien's pass intended for Gary Clark to preserve a 17-13 victory for the Eagles.

This time, the Redskins had a 20-14 lead when 37-year-old veteran Vince Evans, who was playing only because Jay Schroeder re-injured his shoulder and Todd Marinovich had been demoted to third string, faced fourth-and-goal at the Redskins' 3.

The Redskins came with an all-out blitz but didn't reach Evans before he fired a pass on a slant pattern to Brown, who beat Alvoid Mays for the game-winner.

"You can look at it that we should have made it [defended the pass], which is true. It happens to you up here. You've never got them until it's over," Gibbs said.

That has been the Redskins' story, as the defending Super Bowl champions haven't made enough plays all season.

Rypien completed 15 of 29 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, but twice missed Gary Clark in the end zone on third-down plays -- at the end of the first drive and in the fourth quarter after Andre Collins ran a fumble recovery back to the Raiders' 6.

Both times, Chip Lohmiller was brought on to try a field-goal attempt. Lohmiller, who was 2-for-4, missed at the end of the first drive and made a 22-yarder after Rypien's second misfire to Clark.

The injury problem that plagued the Redskins also was a factor.

Ricky Sanders didn't play because of a sprained ankle and rookie Desmond Howard, his replacement, separated his shoulder after catching his first pass in the second period. Carl Harry, who was just activated from the practice squad, then became the third wide receiver.

Howard, the Heisman Trophy winner from Michigan and fourth pick overall, was finished for the season with just three catches.

Earnest Byner also went out with a back injury in the first half after gaining 35 yards. He finished the season with a 998 yards, 2 shy of his goal of becoming the first Redskin to gain 1,000 yards in three straight season and the 11th player in NFL history to to gain 1,000 yards at age 30 or over.

Cornerback Darrell Green aggravated his bruised heel and left the locker room on crutches.

Even if the Vikings do get the Redskins a playoff spot, Washington will go in with a crippled squad. Gibbs said, "I think we got problems injury-wise. What we'll try [if they get in] is patch it up and try and get us a healthy bunch."

Buck said, "There are a lot of teams who aren't watching to see if they're in the playoffs or not. If we get in, I'll feel very good about our chances."

It started to go wrong for the Redskins on the first series, when they had the ball 18 plays and came up empty-handed when Rypien missed Clark in the end zone on third-and-12 from the Raiders' 20 and Lohmiller missed a field-goal attempt.

The Redskins did get a 3-0 lead in the second quarter when Lohmiller made a 39-yard field goal, but they didn't help themselves on the next series when they sacked Schroeder twice to re-injure his shoulder and knock him out of the game.

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