Bills eye Super foe sweep vs. struggling Redskins Buffalo has beaten Cowboys, Giants

November 01, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The limping Washington Redskins should find some leftover Halloween costumes for their visit to chilly Rich Stadium tonight.

The Redskins need to dress up as some losing team such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the New England Patriots.

That's because the Buffalo Bills seem to be convinced they're playing the Redskins team that routed them in Super Bowl XXVI, 37-24, just 21 months ago, not the struggling 1-5 Redskins team that is showing up for the game.

The Bills, who are making history this year, have extra incentive against the Redskins. They're the first team to appear in three or more Super Bowls to face all of their super opponents in one season.

They've avenged the losses to the Cowboys and New York Giants, and they want to get the trifecta by beating the Redskins. They don't want to believe they're playing just another 1-5 team.

It doesn't help the Redskins that the Bills have no trouble against NFC teams in the regular season. They're 12-2 against them the past four seasons.

The Bills also have managed to convince themselves the Redskins don't respect them, quite a feat considering the Redskins' sorry record.

They've dredged up a banquet quote from center Jeff Bostic after the Super Bowl two years ago to give them incentive. Bostic was asked to name the most dominating opponent he'd ever faced. He said Reggie White. Asked to name the weakest, he said, "Pick any Buffalo Bill."

Defensive lineman Bruce Smith was still harrumphing about that last week.

"They have a really good football team and an excellent coaching staff that we really respect," he said. "The only negative I can see is that maybe their center needs to try to control his tongue a little more. I don't think that [his comments] shows any class at all."

Bostic said: "I said it as a joke. They're 5-1 and we're 1-5. I'm not going to say anything stupid like that right now."

It's uncertain whether Smith really is upset or just is trying to use it as motivation.

Give Smith and his teammates one thing. They've refused to let three Super Bowl losses get them down. They have a shot at becoming the first team to go to four straight Super Bowls. Only the Cleveland Browns, who did it six straight years from 1950 to 1955, have appeared in more consecutive NFL championship games.

"I would by lying if I said I haven't wondered if we had used up all our chances, but with the type of coaches, players and management we have, there was no doubt in my mind we would give it our best shot," Smith said. "We don't have a problem getting up and looking forward to playing a great season."

Coach Marv Levy, on getting the team to come back after the Super Bowl losses, said: "To be honest with you, each time I thought it was going to be difficult. But that's my job. And note that I said it would be difficult, but not impossible."

A lot of faces will be familiar in this team. Each team still has 30 players from that Super Bowl game. The Redskins have 17 starters and the Bills 16.

The Redskins, though, are a far different team. They're not sure whether the problem is age, injuries or the loss of coach Joe Gibbs, but they're just not clicking.

It doesn't help that quarterback Mark Rypien hasn't been effective the past two games since being rushed back from a knee injury.

They're hoping that wide receiver Desmond Howard, who's finally getting a chance to start, and the return of defensive linemen Charles Mann, Tim Johnson and Jason Buck can give the team a spark.

Buck said it's a team game, so three defensive linemen might not make that much difference, but he added, "It will definitely be a big plus for us to get that much depth back up front."

Buck conceded, "We've lost that little confidence that gives you the edge."

It doesn't help that some strange things are going on at Redskin Park.

For example, linebacker Carl Banks made rookie cornerback Tom Carter the object of a tirade on the practice field Friday. He started screaming about the "prima donna" and yelled, "Young boy, how many Pro Bowls have you been to?" He also screamed, "He's not helping us win" and "I hope you know we're 1-5, not 5-1."

It was unclear what set Banks off, and he didn't explain it because he earlier said he wasn't giving interviews until the team got to .500.

Coach Richie Petitbon brushed it off, saying, "Boys will be boys."

The real question, though, is, when will the Redskins be the Redskins again?

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