Redskins' playoff goal is in sight, Green says Buffalo loss won't spoil big picture, veteran vows

November 10, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Darrell Green didn't get to five NFL Pro Bowls and help the Washington Redskins win two Super Bowls by playing it safe.

The veteran cornerback has lived on the edge every Sunday for 14 seasons, gambling for interceptions and taking chances on scooping fumbles and racing for touchdowns.

So it's not too surprising that Green would be the first Redskins Green player to break an unwritten rule around the 7-2 team the past several weeks -- don't utter the word "playoffs" in public.

"I'm not afraid to say 'playoffs,' " said Green last week as the team prepared for today's 1 p.m. meeting with the 3-6 Arizona Cardinals at RFK Stadium. "We're good enough to make them. I'm not saying we will, but I'll be disappointed if we don't. I'm more surprised when we lose than when we win."

Green has the team's road to the playoffs mapped out.

"We're right on schedule for a truly outstanding season," said Green. "We lost the first game of the first half of the season and won seven straight, and now we've lost the first game of the second half and should be ready to bounce back with another winning streak. It figures to work out that way."

Green says the letdown was predictable in a 38-13 loss to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday.

"It's only human behavior for a team to play a bad game once in while, especially after winning seven straight," he said. "I know Coach [Norv] Turner had hoped our letdown came in the second half of the New York Giants game when we nearly blew a 28-0 lead, but you don't learn any lessons when you win games."

Despite Green's boldness, his teammates and Turner continued the one-at-a-time philosophy.

Turner said he won't look at the standings until December, when he will determine "exactly what we need to do to make the playoffs."

"Every week is a new challenge," said Turner. "We went into a hostile situation last week and I thought we were prepared, and it looked like we were early in the game. But then things started to happen that hadn't happened before. Marc Logan fumbled and Gus [quarterback Frerotte] lost the ball when he got blindsided on a bootleg."

Turner, the third-year Redskins coach, who has guided the team to 10 wins in its past 13 games, said the Buffalo loss proves how fragile his young team is in every game.

"We're a very young team, and there's a very small line between winning and losing," said Turner. "One or two things can happen to us that can cost us a game. For us to be successful, we need to play at a high level in all three phases of the game [offense, defense and special teams]."

Frerotte said he and receivers Leslie Shepherd and Jamie Asher were "just off six inches" from completing key passes that might have led to first-half touchdowns.

"We all just have to get back in rhythm," said Frerotte. "We're fighting, scratching and clawing to come back from this loss. We're best when we're underdogs and fighting back."

Time: 1 p.m, Ch. 5.

Line: Redskins by 10.

Vs. spread: Cardinals 5-4; Redskins 7-2.

Last week: Cardinals lost to Giants, 16-8. Redskins lost to Bills, 38-13.

Outlook: Arizona is in tailspin now that QB Kent Graham will miss 4-6 weeks with knee injury. Boomer Esiason will resume starting duties, but he has injured big toe and might give way to Stoney Case. It's perfect situation for Washington to shake off effects of last week's loss to Buffalo. Redskins should get running game going again and break recent jinx against Cardinals, who have won five of last six meetings.

By the numbers: Cardinals RB Larry Centers has 61 receptions, second-most in NFL. WR Henry Ellard has 159 catches since joining Redskins in 1994, with 149 resulting in first downs.

Injuries:

CARDINALS: Out: QB Kent Graham (knee). Questionable: WR Frank Sanders (ankle-toe), DT Eric Swann (ankle). Probable: QB Boomer Esiason (toe).

REDSKINS: Out: C Cory Raymer (back), DE Tony Woods (knee). Probable: DT Marc Boutte (knee), WR Henry Ellard (groin), T Tre Johnson (knee), RB Marc Logan (calf), DE Sterling Palmer (knee), T Shar Pourdanesh (finger), T Ed Simmons (knee), LB Rod Stephens (ankle), CB Scott Turner (hamstring).

Statistical comparison:

.... .... .... .... ... .... Off. .... .... .... .... ..Def.

NFL RANKINGS ....Total .... Rush ... ... Pass ... Total Rush ... Pass

Arizona ... ... ... 26 ... .. 22 .... .... 20 ... ...15 .22T ... ..14

Washington ... .... 14 ... ... 5 .... .... 24 ... .. 28 ..29 ... ..20

.... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .Yds. .... Yds.

PER GAME ... ... ... ... ...Pts. .... .. rush .... pass .... TO Sacks

Arizona ... ... Off. ... .. 14.1 .... .. 96.9 ... 194.9 ... 1.5 ..2.1

... ... ... ... Def. ... .. 22.7 .... . 118.2 ... 197.0 ... 1.5 ..1.8

Washington ... Off. ... .. 22.8 .... . 134.3 ... 186.2 ... 0.9 ..1.2

... ... ... ... Def. ... .. 17.0 .... . 146.0 ... 217.3 ... 1.8 ..2.1

Pub Date: 11/10/96

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