Vikings end Redskins' long, lost season

January 01, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The last offensive play was symbolic of the Washington Redskins' lost season.

With the Redskins 41 yards away from a winning touchdown, defensive lineman Roy Barker roared past right tackle Ray Brown, who was playing out of position with a broken hand, knocked the ball out of Mark Rypien's hands and recovered the fumble with 1:26 left to play.

That was the end of the game and the season for the Redskins, who suffered a 14-9 loss to the Minnesota Vikings before 42,836 at RFK Stadium.

That was the kind of season it was for the Redskins, who were shredded by injuries all year and finished with a 4-12 mark, their worst in 30 years.

By contrast, the Vikings, a team they beat twice last year, finished 9-7 to qualify for the last NFC spot.

The Vikings will go to the playoffs and the Redskins will go home to ponder their future.

"I never wanted to finish a year January 1st. This is a playoff football team, a playoff organization. We're all frustrated ending this early," Rypien said.

Rypien is one of the many veterans who don't know if they'll be back, although he thinks he'll be gone.

The coaching staff also has to wonder if owner Jack Kent Cooke rTC will make changes, although yesterday's effort was the kind that may convince Cooke to give coach Richie Petitbon a second chance.

Despite the distractions of their fight over union dues and that they had nothing on the line, the Redskins still had a shot to win in the final two minutes.

"I think we had tremendous effort throughout the year, but, unfortunately, you judge on the won-loss record, and that's not very good," Petitbon said.

Even the Vikings, though, weren't surprised the Redskins played it close after their 38-3 loss in Dallas last Sunday.

Minnesota wide receiver Cris Carter said, "The media tried to paint the picture that the Redskins were concentrating on union issues, but we knew they would come out tough. This is a big win. They're the Redskins. They have a Super Bowl MVP, Art Monk and three Super Bowl victories. They don't lie down and die."

The Redskins played the same way they played much of the season as they lost for the seventh time by seven points or fewer. They couldn't overcome injuries and mistakes and couldn't generate a touchdown. They failed to score a touchdown in five of the last eight games.

Two offensive linemen, right tackle Ed Simmons and center Jeff Bostic, went down with knee injuries. Rookie Greg Huntington went in at center, and the Redskins had one fumbled snap. Brown, the right guard who was sitting out the game, went in at right tackle and was victimized by Barker on the Redskins' final play.

Rypien saluted Brown for even trying to play.

"Ray Brown could have said put some one else in. I've got a banged up hand. I've never played right tackle,' " Rypien said.

Brown said he never considered it. "It hurts for him [Barker] to make that play, but I always want to play."

Rypien, who was sacked twice and knocked down many other times, limped at times, but would not come out.

"To pull me out of that would be like pulling a tooth out of someone. I wasn't coming out. I wanted to finish that," Rypien said.

Rypien said all the injuries in the line -- it started when Jim Lachey went out in training camp -- robbed the offense of continuity.

"Consistency has a lot to do with offensive football. When you're bouncing guys in and out, that's tough one everyone," Rypien said.

The Redskins also were hurt by a two missed field-goal attempts by Chip Lohmiller, who made three. Rypien took the blame because he's an inexperienced holder.

Even the team's play calling raised eyebrows as the team tried draw plays on third-and-long.

"It wasn't that we were necessarily being conservative. It's something we saw as a weakness [in the Vikings]," Rypien said.

Earnest Byner got a 16-yard run on a third-and-12 play in the first quarter, but the Vikings adjusted.

The Redskins started their usual way -- failing to score in the first quarter. They did not score a point at home all season in the first quarter.

The Vikings scored first when they put together a 69-yard drive in 10 plays in the second quarter. Scottie Graham scored on a 1-yard run.

On the Redskins' next possession, Lohmiller hooked a 53-yard field-goal attempt. In the first quarter, Petitbon decided to pass up a 52-yard attempt and punted. He said he didn't want to gamble early in the game and risk giving the Vikings good field position.

The Redskins got another chance when Monte Coleman intercepted a Jim McMahon pass and returned it 14 yards to the Minnesota 25 with 43 seconds left in the first half.

After losing 10 yards on their first two plays, the Redskins faced a third-and-20 at the Minnesota 35. The Redskins then tried a draw by Byner. It went for 15 yards, but was short of the first down, and Lohmiller kicked a 37-yard field goal.

On the second play of the second half, Reggie Brooks ran 45 yards around left end to the Minnesota 23.

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