Seahawks drill Redskins, 28-7

September 05, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Reality bit the Washington Redskins yesterday.

The optimism of training camp, fueled by new coach Norv Turner's upbeat approach, was struck by the cold reality that the Redskins are coming off a 4-12 year and their rebuilding program still is in the subbasement stage.

Handing the Seattle Seahawks two gift touchdowns with a pair of critical mistakes, the Redskins were drilled, 28-7, before 52,930 frustrated fans at RFK Stadium.

The fans, spoiled by years of success (the Redskins haven't had back-to-back losing seasons since 1967-68), booed and left early.

All in all, it was an instant replay of the long days the Redskins suffered through last season.

On top of everything else, strong safety Keith Taylor, who was signed as a free agent after Danny Copeland retired, tore his right Achilles' tendon and will be sidelined for the year.

Even the heralded debut of rookie Heath Shuler wasn't much consolation. He played like a rookie, going 0-for-3 in two unproductive series at the end of the first half, although he did better in mop-up work later.

Despite the setbacks, one thing didn't change. Turner still was preaching his upbeat message.

"If I saw this as a short-term thing, I'd be concerned. . . . We're

going to have some great days and the guys in that locker room are going to have some great days. Those are the days I'm going to look forward to," he said.

Defensive coordinator Ron Lynn also wasn't too discouraged even though the Seahawks ran the ball for 174 yards against Washington's porous defense with Chris Warren getting 100 in 22 carries. Last year, they gave up an average of 132 yards a game on the ground.

Still, Lynn said, "I'm not disheartened. I'm disappointed, but I'm not crushed. We'll be a good football team. This will be a good defense when it's all said and done."

Turner even seemed puzzled when he was asked how disappointing his first game was.

"We played one football game. Please. This team in the last month and a half has improved a great deal. Again, when we go in and grade this thing, we're going to find so many good things in it. Seattle played awfully well. . . . You've got to give them the credit. . . . And we turned the football over," Turner said.

Turning the football over proved fatal. The Redskins turned it over three times -- a fourth was wiped out by a penalty -- and the Seahawks didn't turn it over.

All it took was two plays to doom the Redskins, but they were the type of plays losing teams make.

The first error was made by Brian Mitchell, who dropped three passes in a nightmarish game.

He caught a punt on his 5-yard line even though players are schooled not to field a punt inside the 10. He then fumbled to set up the first Seattle touchdown.

The next mistake was made by quarterback John Friesz.

He threw the ball right into the arms of linebacker Terry Wooden, who returned it 69 yards for a touchdown that gave the Seahawks a 14-7 lead early in the second period.

"I thought I could stick it in there [to Mitchell]," Friesz said.

Seattle added one more touchdown on a drive before halftime that was kept alive by a questionable roughing-the-passer call on Leonard Marshall.

That made it 21-7 and the Seahawks controlled the ball on the ground in the second half. The Seahawks lost another touchdown when an offsides call rubbed out a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown by Robert Blackmon.

Friesz, who directed an 82-yard touchdown drive on the Redskins' first possession, wound up completing 17 of 32 for 210 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Summing up the day, Friesz said, "Really, it was a combination of not being very good on my part with accuracy or when I was accurate, there were too many drops or we didn't run the ball very well or we had a penalty on first down. It wasn't a total nightmare, but it seemed like if it wasn't one thing, it was another."

Friesz pleaded for patience from the fans. "With some of our veteran leaders, we're going to be able to fight through this. There's a lot of strength on this team," he said. "Hopefully, the fans won't abandon us early and keep realizing we've got a lot of new things and we're trying as hard as we can."

Turner didn't say whether he'll stick with Friesz as the starter against the New Orleans Saints, but said he wants to play Shuler more as soon as possible.

On Shuler's first two series, the Redskins not only failed to get a first down, but wound up with a net of minus-5 yards.

On a third-and-seven on his first series, Turner tried to cross up the Seahawks with a quarterback draw, but Cortez Kennedy stuffed Shuler for a 4-yard loss.

But on one play in his second stint at the end of the game, he showed the potential that made the Redskins willing to give him a $19.25 million contract.

With Kennedy rushing him, he backpedaled until he spotted Ricky Ervins across the field and fired an 8-yard completion for a first down.

"I knew in one sense, it's a cardinal sin to throw it back across your body with the defense in pursuit. I took a look and I saw Ricky open," Shuler said. "He did a great job of staying alive."

It was one of the few moments the fans had to savor. As Turner said: "The fans are like me. They want to see something positive happen."

4( They didn't see it happen yesterday.

NFL WEEK 1

Seahawks 28 Redskins 7

Lions 31 Falcons 28 (OT)

Browns 28 Bengals 20

Colts 45 Oilers 21

Chiefs 30 Saints 17

Packers 16 Vikings 10

Giants 28 Eagles 23

Bears 21 Buccaneers 9

Rams 14 Cardinals 12

Cowboys 26 Steelers 9

Dolphins 39 Patriots 35

Jets 23 Bills 3

Chargers 37 Broncos 34

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