Conklin, Redskins top Steelers QB strengthens hold in 10-3 win

August 23, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Cary Conklin showed last night that he's not going to surrender the Washington Redskins' backup quarterback job without a fight.

Just three days after the Redskins traded for veteran quarterback Rich Gannon, Conklin put on his best showing of the exhibition season to lead the Redskins to a 10-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers before 51,086 fans at Three Rivers Stadium.

Both teams sputtered for three quarters until Conklin piloted a nine-play, 43-yard touchdown drive in 3:27 in the final quarter to decide the game.

Conklin knew he had to play well to keep the coaches from thinking about moving Gannon into the backup job once he learns the system.

He accomplished this by putting together the tie-breaking drive that included passes of 12 yards to Ray Rowe and 6 yards to Mark Stock.

Reggie Brooks chipped in with a 9-yard run and got the touchdown on a 4-yard run.

Conklin said the trade for Gannon didn't make any difference in his approach to the game. "It's a matter of going out and making plays," he said. "I was really impressed with them [the Steelers] on film. I knew we had our work cut out. We got in a little groove and hit some passes."

The Steelers then marched down to the Redskins' 8, but Pat Eilers blitzed Rick Strom and knocked the ball out of his hands on a third-and-one play. Former Maryland defensive lineman Ralph Orta pounced on it on the Redskins' 18 to end the drive. Orta also had a sack in the game.

The Steelers had one last chance to tie the game when Marc Woodard sacked Conklin and knocked the ball out of his hands and Chad Brown recovered on the Redskins' 24.

But a pair of sacks of Lamont Hollinquist and a fine defensive play in the secondary by Darryl Morrison wrapped up the victory.

Coach Richie Petitbon was pleased with the Redskins' effort. "I really felt that this game was going to be a barometer of our season," he said. "I knew it was going to be a tough, physical game. I knew we were going to get tested tonight. I think this could be a nice little steppingstone for us."

Petitbon said he didn't care about winning the first two exhibition games, which the Redskins split. But he had a different attitude about this one.

"This was a big game for us. We wanted to win this football game. We can build on it."

Veteran cornerback Darrell Green also was happy with the team's effort. "I felt pretty good about it," Green said. "As a whole, the nucleus of our team went against the nucleus of their team and I would hope the coach was satisfied."

Except for the game-winning touchdown drive, the Redskins had trouble moving the ball the entire game.

They got a 47-yard field goal by Chip Lohmiller on their first drive of the game, but the offense was handcuffed in its other three possessions of the first half.

The rest of the first half the Redskins didn't do much but showcase the punting of veteran Kelly Goodburn, who is on his way to beating out Ed Bunn for the starting job.

The Redskins couldn't get their running game rolling in the first half. Brian Mitchell carried 13 times for only 27 yards.

Rypien didn't get much help from his teammates. Tim McGee dropped a long pass in the second quarter and Rypien often had to throw in the teeth of a fierce rush.

Even though he was sacked only once, he was decked several times as he unloaded the ball and he scrambled twice.

There was one six-play sequence in the second quarter that summed up all of their problems.

On first down at the Washington 33, Rypien put it right into McGee's arms and he dropped it. After Mitchell ran for 3 yards, Ron Woodsondecked Rypien with a corner blitz, but he still got it off to Earnest Byner for an 8-yard gain and a first down.

On the next play, Kevin Greene beat Joe Jacoby, who was filling in for Ed Simmons, and sacked Rypien for a 7-yard loss.

After completing an 11-yarder to McGee, Greene beat Jacoby again on third down, forcing Rypien to rush his incomplete pass.

Rypien wound up completing 11 of 16 for 86 yards in the first half.

For the first time in three exhibition games, Rypien was given a series in the second half, but couldn't move the team.

After completing passes of 5 yards to Byner and Art Monk for a first down, Rypien misfired twice to Desmond Howard and the Redskins punted again.

Conklin then came in and pulled out the victory with one good drive.

The Redskins defense dominated the Steelers, although starting quarterback Neil O'Donnell was held out with a sore arm.

The Steelers' only points came on a 10-play, 58-yard drive in the second period engineered by backup quarterback Mike Tomczak that was climaxed by Gary Anderson's 43-yard field goal.

The Steelers blew a chance to take the lead when Tomczak drove from the Steelers' 30 with 2:52 left in the first half and moved them down to the Washington 17, where Barry Foster lost a fumble after colliding with Danny Copeland.

NOTES: DE Charles Mann twice beat Steeler T Leon Searcy, the team's first-round pick last year, and sacked Tomczak. . . . The Redskins were missing three defensive linemen, Jason Buck (ribs), Tim Johnson (ribs) and Shane Collins (shoulder).

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