Frerotte lifts Redskins to 19-13 win in OT He slips Cardinals' grasp, finds Westbrook for TD

September 15, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- With an unlikely move and a game-winning, 40-yard touchdown pass in overtime to a falling Michael Westbrook in the left corner of the end zone, Gus Frerotte wiped out more than four quarters of frustration for the Washington Redskins yesterday and enabled them to break in the new Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in storybook style.

Just as Frerotte looked as if he would go down under a monstrous pass rush, he suddenly broke free and threw a perfect pass to Westbrook for a 19-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals with 1: 36 elapsed in overtime.

"I thought for sure I was going to go down when two guys were coming at my face, and then I moved to the left and suddenly it seemed like they stopped and I got the ball to Michael," said Frerotte, whose jersey was being grabbed by right linebacker Terry Irving. "It was great to see it work out this way for Michael. This proves that Michael is here, he's alive and here to play."

But Westbrook, who has been haunted by the Stephen Davis slugging incident for nearly four weeks, would not have been able to catch the winning pass if Frerotte had not reacted instinctively under pressure.

He had the ball in his left hand when the defense of Arizona (1-2) descended on him, and he began to scramble for his life, but suddenly switched the ball to his right hand and threw it to Westbrook.

"It [switching the ball] is one of those things you don't even think about," said Frerotte. "I just did it. On the play, I told Michael to work on No. 22 [right cornerback Tom Knight] and go one-on-one with him. Michael is so big and tall that he can go over people for the ball."

Westbrook said: "I ran the play before and beat him [Knight] badly, so I said we ought to try it again. This touchdown was for Jack Kent Cooke, my teammates and the Redskins fans. I was just doing what they drafted me for."

The winning touchdown pass came two plays after Washington rookie linebacker Derek Smith recovered a fumble by Leeland McElroy at Arizona's 35-yard line.

Terry Allen lost 5 yards on the first play after the fumble recovery, setting the stage for Frerotte and Westbrook.

The Cardinals sent the game into overtime when Kevin Butler kicked a 47-yard field goal with two seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie it at 13.

The win before a crowd of 78,270 not only allowed Washington (2-1) to do what it couldn't do in its debut at RFK Stadium (a 24-21 loss to the Giants in 1961), but it gave the Redskins some revenge for Arizona's seven wins in the previous eight games between the teams.

It also prompted Redskins coach Norv Turner to joke a little when asked what the late owner Jack Kent Cooke would think of the afternoon.

"He is probably saying with a growl, 'Why did you run to the left those two times in the fourth quarter?' " said Turner.

Frerotte said: "Jack Kent Cooke was in every seat in this stadium today. Norv Turner tells a story about Mr. Cooke telling him to make sure we win the last game at RFK, so you know how much he wanted to win the first one here."

Veteran Washington cornerback Darrell Green, who made several big defensive plays in the fourth quarter, said: "The only way to top a finish like this one in the first game ever played here would be to play a doubleheader and win both of them."

Even though Frerotte finished 19-for-36 for 265 yards and two touchdown passes to Westbrook, it was not his day until the dramatic ending.

The quarterback threw one interception, was almost picked off two other times and twice had to settle for Scott Blanton field goals instead of touchdowns.

He did lead the team on a five-play, 60-yard touchdown drive that gave Washington a 10-7 lead with 13: 37 left in the second period.

Westbrook soared over cornerback Aeneas Williams to catch a 5-yard touchdown pass from Frerotte at the end of the 60-yard march.

While the Redskins' offense sputtered most of the day, their oft-maligned defense was impressive from the start, with middle linebacker Marvcus Patton making 16 tackles and tackle Marc Boutte harassing Cardinals quarterback Kent Graham all afternoon.

Pub Date: 9/15/97

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