Ragged Redskins finally picked off in OT

October 17, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- In a game full of errors, it was fitting that an interception helped decide the outcome of the Arizona Cardinals' 19-16 overtime victory over the Washington Redskins yesterday at RFK Stadium.

Just when the teams seemed headed toward the NFL's first tie in five years, rookie quarterback Heath Shuler, playing with a bout of the flu and a sprained ankle, threw his fifth interception right into the arms of former Redskin Terry Hoage on the Washington 35.

Hoage returned it 23 yards to the Washington 12, and Cardinals coach Buddy Ryan wasn't going to risk running even one play.

He waved in Todd Peterson, who was kicking in his first NFL game and had missed from 43 and 45 yards. But Peterson hit his second field goal, from 29 yards with 4:56 left in overtime, to win the game.

Shuler, who is struggling to find himself and still having trouble gripping the slick NFL ball, said: "It was personally the toughest defeat I'd ever taken in my life. I lay the blame on me."

Except for three running plays on one series while Shuler's ankle was being taped in the second period, coach Norv Turner stuck with Shuler, though he was vomiting at halftime with the flu and couldn't plant on his sprained right ankle.

"I thought about it," Turner said when asked if he had considered a switch. "I just didn't do it."

Turner said he had no second thoughts about sticking with Shuler.

"One thing about Heath is when he's been erratic, he'll snap out of it. But he wasn't able to do it today. I'm not going to second-guess the situation. I did what I did for a reason," he said.

Turner, though, gave every indication he'll go back to John Friesz against the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday.

"I've got a lot of thinking to do about the entire situation," Turner said. "I think you have to [consider a change]. To be fair to the other guys in this room, I have to do that."

If the Cardinals are a good football team, they disguised it yesterday. Most of their offense consisted of short runs on first and second downs, a third-down incomplete pass by quarterback Steve Beuerlein and a punt.

The Redskins, who have started 1-6 for the second straight year (they beat Indianapolis in the eighth game last year), were even worse.

Two teams that came in with one victory each lived down to expectations. They tripped over their feet for 3 hours, 39 minutes before Peterson's kick ended it.

They played as if this were a throwback weekend to the days a half-century ago when the NFL was a step above semipro ball. The Cardinals didn't blitz Shuler much, figuring correctly that he'd throw it to them if they sat back in coverage.

Ryan said: "It's not like we beat a great football team, but we needed a win badly. We are a good football team, but we must beat a team like Dallas or somebody like that to show something."

So how bad was it?

* After three quarters, commissioner Paul Tagliabue left owner Jack Kent Cooke's box. He had apparently seen enough. But then he came. A total of 6,436 ticket holders were no-shows.

* The two quarterbacks combined for eight interceptions. In one five-play sequence in the second period, the two quarterbacks were intercepted three times.

* In the first half, the two quarterbacks completed nine passes to their own players and threw four interceptions.

* There were 18 punts in the game, including a career-high 10 by Reggie Roby of the Redskins.

* The Redskins were 1-for-12 on third down and are 5-for-32 on third down in Shuler's three games.

But two plays -- a 46-yard touchdown pass from from Shuler to Brian Mitchell on a quick slant that beat the blitz and Darrell Green's 27-yard run with an intercepted pass for a touchdown -- gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead in the second period.

Peterson's 35-yard field goal at the end of the half cut it to 14-3, and the Cardinals turned a Shuler interception into a 22-yard touchdown drive that made it 14-9 in the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals missed a two-point conversion. They they gave the Redskins two points, taking a safety when they were backed up on their 4-yard line, making it 16-9. That enabled Arizona to punt from its 20 instead of the end zone.

"They didn't respect us," Shuler said of the decision to give up the safety with 4:57 left.

The Cardinals figured they could make the Redskins punt. They did, and the Cardinals moved 72 yards in 11 plays to tie it. They got the touchdown on Beuerlein's 5-yard pass to Ricky Proehl.

The Redskins' Alan Grant grabbed it out of Proehl's arms, but the officials ruled that it had been caught for the touchdown.

In the overtime, Chip Lohmiller's 51-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Seth Joyner and Peterson missed a 45-yarder.

The Redskins have lost a team-record 11 straight NFC East games.

They're also 5-18 since Joe Gibbs retired. In Gibbs' last 17 games against the Cardinals, they were 15-2. They're 0-3 since.

Arizona 0 3 0 13 3 -- 19

Washington 0 14 0 2 0 -- 16

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