Eagles still rule Redskins, 31-29

October 31, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Another game, another last-minute victory for the Philadelphia Eagles.

They have pulled it off five straight times against the Washington Redskins, facing three different coaches and five different quarterbacks the past three seasons.

Eddie Murray, who earlier had missed from 49 and 42 yards, kicked a 30-yard field goal with 19 seconds left yesterday to give the Eagles a 31-29 victory over the Redskins before 53,530 at RFK Stadium.

They don't keep records on such things, but it's difficult to imagine any other team winning five straight games decided in the last minute against the same foe.

"I don't believe in jinxes," defensive coordinator Ron Lynn said. "Eventually, it'll turn, and when the law of averages does, we'll win the next five."

Even the Gus Frerotte phenomenon wasn't enough for the Redskins to end the hex.

The seventh-round draft choice from Tulsa has become an instant fan favorite. Fans always like an underdog, and RFK Stadium was rocking the way it was in the Super Bowl days, as the Redskins took a 14-0 lead and led 17-7 at halftime before falling behind 28-20 in the fourth quarter.

The Redskins came back to take a 29-28 lead on Chip Lohmiller's 40-yard field goal with 3:58 left before the Eagles put together a 63-yard drive to win it on Murray's field goal.

The fans cheered when Frerotte threw three touchdown passes, and when he was intercepted twice and fumbled once they didn't boo him the way they booed top draft pick Heath Shuler for his miscues.

Frerotte, who completed 13 of 30 passes for 181 yards, also used up two timeouts in the second half because he was slow in getting the team to the line of scrimmage.

The Redskins used a third timeout when Tre Johnson was late getting on the field for a field-goal attempt, so they couldn't stop the clock and ran out of time on the Eagles' 45. That prevented Lohmiller from trying a 62-yard field goal for the win.

Frerotte, who was used to playing before 25,000 at Tulsa, said: "It's an incredible feeling to go out there and play in front of this many people. The attention is great, and I hope it never ends."

The crowd included his parents, Gus Sr. and Pat, and his brother Jay, who works at Johns Hopkins.

Coach Norv Turner said: "That's the RFK I was thinking about when I took this job. It was a heck of an atmosphere for a football game."

The Redskins were so upbeat, it was easy to forget they are 2-7 for the second straight year, have lost 12 straight division games and are 0-5 at home this season.

"We're getting a lot better, and there'll be a point where we'll be very good," Turner said.

It helped that the Redskins have developed a running game, rushing for 168 yards, as Brian Mitchell and Ricky Ervins, who went out in the third quarter with a sprained ankle, each carried 16 times.

Mitchell got 85 yards and Ervins 83.

Frerotte took the blame for his two interceptions. He said he should have thrown the ball away on the one that Mark McMillian picked off in the second quarter and made a poor throw on the one that Greg Jackson grabbed in the third quarter and returned for a touchdown.

"We probably would have won the game if I hadn't made those three mistakes," Frerotte said.

Even the Eagles, though, were impressed with Frerotte, who coped with the sophisticated schemes designed by defensive coordinator Bud Carson.

"I saw from the beginning that he was going to stay in the pocket," defensive lineman Greg Townsend said. "He wasn't going to get happy feet like other rookies. He's got a lot of poise, and he's going to be a good one."

Linebacker William Thomas said: "Usually, young quarterbacks get rattled if you get to them early, but he showed a lot of poise. He was able to handle our pressure very well."

Turner said that Frerotte had earned the start in next week's game against the San Francisco 49ers, but he ducked the question when asked whether Frerotte is likely to start for the rest of the season.

"We've got two very good young quarterbacks," Turner said. "I don't think either one of them is ready to be a starter right now. We've played both of them. They'll both be outstanding. It'll be interesting to see over the next couple of years how this unfolds."

Shuler played the first game against the Eagles on Oct. 9 and passed for 186 yards, threw two touchdown passes and was intercepted once. The interception by Jackson on the Eagles' 3 with 40 seconds left preserved the victory.

Shuler, still recovering from a sprained ankle, praised Frerotte.

"I thought Gus did a great job today. He played very well," Shuler said.

Shuler also received an accolade. After the game, Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham, who collects jerseys, asked him to exchange jerseys.

The victory boosted the Eagles to 6-2 at the halfway mark.

Lynn was upset because his defense gave up 17 points in the final quarter.

"This is as disappointing as any one I've been involved in," he said.

When Lynn was asked if he just meant this year, he said, "Any time I can remember."

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