Cardinals have new look, but results are familiar Bugel seeks 1st TD at RFK Stadium

September 12, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The numbers tell a grim story for the Phoenix Cardinals today.

They come into RFK Stadium, a place where they've lost 14 straight games, to face a Washington Redskins team that is 20-2 in Sunday games coming off Monday night games.

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The Redskins have beaten the Cardinals 15 of the past 17 meetings, and Phoenix coach Joe Bugel, a former Redskins assistant, has yet to see his team score a touchdown in RFK Stadium while losing three games by a combined score of 106-3.

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After being told by owner Bill Bidwill that he's got to win nine games this season to save his job, Bugel made a panic move and yanked his quarterback, Steve Beuerlein, at halftime in the season opener last week in Philadelphia. Bugel also will be missing two defensive starters, Eric Hill and Robert Massey, because of contract problems.

Hill has signed, but can't play because the Cardinals sent him one of those five-day letters during training camp that made him ineligible to play the first three games.

All that helps explain why the Cardinals are 10-point underdogs coming into this game.

They spent a lot of money in the off-season to sign such free agents such as Gary Clark and Beuerlein and first-round draft pick Garrison Hearst, but they looked like the same old Cardinals when they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 23-17, in the opener.

Clark seemed too keyed up to make a good showing and dropped four passes, and Hearst gained just 3 yards in seven carries.

"Clark told [offensive coordinator] Jerry Rhome that he felt he should score a touchdown every time he caught the football," Bugel said. "He was pressing too much trying to have a 200-yard game."

Bugel has tried to put the best face on his shaky job status. By publicly telling Bugel he had to win a certain number of games, Bidwill has started an inevitable countdown. Bugel now has to go 9-6 in the final 15 games to save his job. If he loses today, he has to finish 9-5.

"The ultimatum keeps coming up," Bugel said. "It doesn't really bother me. I put pressure on myself because I want to win so badly. The expectations are high out here. We have to learn how to win on the road."

Besides Clark, who spent the week debating general manager Charley Casserly about the contract talks he had before he left, another former Redskin who's fired up for the game is offensive lineman Mark May.

"It's a different feeling for us because we were in good graces, and then, all of a sudden, we decided to leave and we're dirty rotten scoundrels, bad guys who had never been good for the organization," May said. "That kind of sticks in your mind. Most of the class people there would never say that and never hold a business decision against you, but there are always those few and you really want to stick it to them."

May didn't identify whom he was referring to. The Redskins had suggested he retire because of knee problems after the 1989 season, but he's still starting four years later.

Bugel has to hope that Hearst, who's slowly rounding into form after missing most of training camp, can be more of a factor this week.

"He's not too far off from being ready," Bugel said. "But any time a young man misses most of training camp, he has a lot of catching up to do."

While the Cardinals are trying to catch up, the Redskins hope not to lose much of the edge they had against the Cowboys Monday night.

Their main concern is how well offensive left tackle Moe Elewonibi can play after being hospitalized last week with a staph infection in his right elbow. Joe Jacoby is ready to step in if he has problems.

They want the line to play as well as it did against the Cowboys, when it gave quarterback Mark Rypien time to throw and opened the holes for Brian Mitchell, who's leading the league in rushing after one game with 116 yards.

"They blocked the line of scrimmage as well as I've seen the line of scrimmage blocked," offensive coordinator Rod Dowhower said.

Meanwhile, coach Richie Petitbon is stressing that the Redskins have to guard against a letdown.

"They're a desperate team," Petitbon said.

They may be even more desperate after the game.

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