Cardinals throw Redskins, Rypien for double loss Knee injury to idle QB at least 3 weeks after 17-10 defeat

September 13, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Maybe Joe Gibbs knew something when he packed it in this year.

Two games into the Richie Petitbon era, the Washington Redskins are facing the type of crisis that used to keep Gibbs awake at night.

They not only lost their first home game to the Phoenix Cardinals in 15 years yesterday, 17-10, but they lost quarterback Mark Rypien with a knee injury, and Cary Conklin couldn't bring the team back in relief.

When preseason started, the two players the Redskins least could afford to lose were Rypien and offensive tackle Jim Lachey. Lachey was lost for the season with a knee injury in the first preseason game, and now Rypien is out indefinitely.

Rypien will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today, and Petitbon said the best-case scenario is that he'll be back in three weeks -- they have a bye in two weeks -- for the Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 4. He said the worst case is that the quarterback will be out for the season.

But Dr. Charles Jackson leaned toward the more optimistic prognosis, saying: "If if looks as good as we think, then we'll start the rehabilitation process immediately."

Rypien stretched the medial collateral ligament in his right knee when Eric Swann nailed him with a high tackle as he started to go into a slide after scrambling for a first down at the Phoenix 47 with 13:24 to go in the second quarter.

Rypien's knee got caught under Swann as he was flipped over by the Phoenix defensive lineman.

Although the fans booed Swann, Petitbon said: "When he went down, I didn't think it was that tough a hit."

Rypien said: "I'm looking for the [first-down] markers, and I caught him out of the corner of my eye. I didn't think it was a cheap play at all. He was trying to make a play, and I'm going to slide. That happens."

A lot of things happened to the Redskins during the game.

Phoenix's Johnny Bailey ran the opening kickoff back 43 yards and returned Reggie Roby's first punt as a Redskin 58 yards for a touchdown.

The Redskins were out-rushed 152-58, as rookie Garrison Hearst, who was held to 3 yards in seven carries in his debut in Philadelphia last Sunday, picked up 76 yards on 22 carries. Washington's Brian Mitchell, who led the league with 116 yards rushing after the first week, was held to 33 yards in 10 carries.

With Lachey out, Moe Elewonibi, who came out with a hamstring pull in the third quarter, but came back when Joe Jacoby suffered a knee injury, had trouble with Ken Harvey. Elewonibi, who spent three days in the hospital with a staph infection in his right forearm, was beaten for sacks three times by Harvey.

It was an emotional victory for Phoenix coach Joe Bugel, a former Gibbs assistant who has been given an ultimatum: win nine games this year or lose your job.

The Cardinals hadn't scored a touchdown in his first three games at RFK Stadium as Phoenix coach, losing by a combined score of 106-3.

Bugel, though, never lost confidence in his team, even after its disappointing, 23-17 loss in Philadelphia in the opener.

"Like I told them last night, everybody outside that room strongly believed we couldn't win. Everyone in uniform pitched in to win. I'm totally proud of them," he said.

Gary Clark, making a successful return to RFK Stadium after spending eight years as a Redskin, caught six passes for 93 yards.

Bugel said: "I'm happy for Gary Clark. He took so much abuse last week [after dropping four passes in Philadelphia]. He was pumped up."

Clark said: "You always look forward to coming home. I probably had a few more butterflies today than I usually do."

When he fell after making a 36-yard catch in the second quarter that helped set up a touchdown, Clark suffered a groin injury and needed an injection of painkiller at halftime to keep going.

Clark said he warned the Cardinals not to get overconfident when they were leading 17-0 at halftime.

"Those guys haven't got where they are by not being able to come back," he said.

This time, there was no comeback.

The Redskins will be without Rypien at quarterback when they go to Philadelphia Sunday for the first time since Nov. 12, 1990, when Jeff Rutledge started in Philadelphia. The Redskins lost, 28-14, in what became known as the "Body Bag" game. Rutledge and Stan Humphries were knocked out by the aggressive Eagles defense, and Mitchell finished the game at quarterback.

Rypien, who had missed six games that year with a knee injury, was rushed back for the next game against the New Orleans Saints. He had started 48 games in a row before he went out yesterday.

Conklin, who had thrown just two regular-season passes in his first three years with the team, completed 16 of 29 for 169 yards against the Cardinals, but had one critical interception in the third quarter, when John Booty picked off a pass at the Phoenix 3.

"We had a chance to win," he said. "We just didn't get it done."

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