Shuler isn't answer in Redskins' loss Booed backup picked off twice in 27-20 Seattle win

November 20, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- The boos that cascaded from the stands at RFK Stadium yesterday when Heath Shuler replaced Gus Frerotte at quarterback capsulized a season of frustration for the Washington Redskins, who lost any chance for a wild-card berth or a winning season by falling to the Seattle Seahawks, 27-20.

Shuler, a first-round pick from Tennessee in 1994, had played only a few downs since injuring his throwing shoulder in the season opener and losing his job to Frerotte, a crowd favorite.

After entering in the fourth quarter, Shuler threw a pair of interceptions, the last one leading to the clinching, 5-yard touchdown run by Seattle's Chris Warren.

As soon as Warren (29 carries, 136 yards) crossed the goal line, more than half the crowd of 51,298 began to disperse.

Only several thousand were still around to watch Shuler complete eight straight passes in a 68-yard drive that was capped by a 5-yard rollout to rookie Michael Westbrook for a touchdown with 1:18 remaining.

That pulled the Redskins (3-8) within a touchdown, but tight end Carlester Crumpler covered Eddie Murray's onside kick, and Seattle ran out the clock.

"People tell me to block it [the booing] out, but it's hard," said Shuler. "I hadn't played in 10 weeks, so what could I have done wrong?

"Fans pay for their tickets, and they have a right to boo, scream or whatever. But you'd like to have their support. Playing here is like being on the road."

On Shuler's first offensive series, he was sacked for a 10-yard loss, but Murray's 48-yard field goal trimmed Seattle's lead to 17-13 with 12:19 remaining.

Plenty of time for Shuler to change the boos to cheers. But when he was intercepted on his next two possessions, the crowd turned ugly.

In the end, Redskins coach Norv Turner was left with another installment in the quarterback controversy. But in this loss, there was enough blame for both quarterbacks, who squandered repeated scoring chances.

The return of wide receivers Westbrook and Henry Ellard was supposed to signal a turnaround in Redskins fortunes. The team moved well between the 20-yard lines but repeatedly self-destructed, save for tight end Olanda Truitt's 18-yard reception that produced a 10-10 halftime tie and Shuler's late TD drive.

"We just don't have any continuity on offense now to get the job done," said Turner. "Defensively, we really gave up only one big play [a 59-yard TD reception by rookie wide-out Joey Galloway in the first half]. But offensively, we just made a lot of poor decisions."

Turner defended his decision to bench Frerotte after he failed on two scoring opportunities in the third quarter. He threw his last pass into triple coverage in the end zone, resulting in the first of Robert Blackmon's two interceptions.

"Gus threw five straight balls that he was capable of completing and didn't," said Turner. "On the interception, he had two receivers open underneath. What he should have done is take the sack, and it's second-and-12. You don't always have to make things happen."

Asked about his status, Frerotte said: "I can only control myself and what I do in there. I just made a couple of bad throws."

Turner said he will decide which quarterback will start before Wednesday's practice.

Meanwhile, the Redskins have lost three straight, and the fans are growing more impatient.

Seattle (5-6), on the other hand, is back in the wild-card race after winning three straight.

"We played great defensively," said coach Dennis Erickson. "We got five turnovers, and that was the difference. We're finally believing we can win."

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