Defense turns corner for Redskins in 24-12 win Green, Dishman set tone

Jaguars handed first loss

September 29, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- Celebrated Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell seemed ordinary yesterday and 245-pound running back Natrone Means didn't bruise too many Washington Redskins tacklers.

It just wasn't supposed to happen that way, as the previously unbeaten Jaguars and their explosive offense lined up against a Redskins defense that was considered suspect.

"Everybody talked about how great Jacksonville was, but they failed to realize we had Darrell Green over there on our side and didn't even mention him," Washington cornerback Cris Dishman said after a surprising 24-12 victory over Jacksonville in a steady rain at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. "That was a big mistake."

Not mentioning Dishman was also an oversight.

Dishman was dominant yesterday in his finest hour since being signed by Washington as an unrestricted free agent from the Tennessee Oilers in April.

He not only made six tackles but also literally went airborne in the fourth quarter to bat one of Brunell's passes into the air, setting up a critical interception by teammate Marc Boutte with 8 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the game.

Washington (3-1) was clinging to a 17-12 lead at the time and Jacksonville (3-1) was facing second-and-seven from its 23-yard line, with Brunell primed for what the Jaguars hoped would be a go-ahead scoring drive.

Brunell threw a low pass over the middle that was headed for Keenan McCardell and just as he was ready to catch the ball, a diving Dishman arrived and the ball popped into the air and landed in Boutte's arms at the Jacksonville 27.

The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Boutte hesitated at first and then took off downfield for 10 yards to the Jacksonville 17.

"I just wanted to fall down at first," Boutte said of his second career interception. "I couldn't believe it when the ball came right to me."

Six plays later, Gus Frerotte hit a wide-open Leslie Shepherd in the middle of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown pass and a 24-12 lead with 5: 48 left in the game.

It was Frerotte's third touchdown pass of the day and Shepherd's second scoring catch.

Terry Allen also had a big day for Washington, rushing 36 times for 122 yards, and seemed nearly recovered completely from a broken left thumb that kept him out of the team's only loss of the season to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But the day definitely belonged to the Washington defense, which allowed just four field goals by Mike Hollis.

Brunell was 16 of 31 for 153 yards and no touchdowns, was sacked three times and was intercepted twice.

Means was restricted to 62 yards on 18 carries, and the entire Jacksonville rushing offense was halted at 70 net yards. The Jaguars had just 204 total net yards.

No wonder new Washington defensive coordinator Mike Nolan conducted a news conference and Dishman lingered long in the locker room to explain how he set up the game-turning interception.

In what was probably his best performance in three years with the Redskins, free safety Stanley Richard had seven tackles and returned one interception 23 yards in the second quarter to set up an 8-yard touchdown pass from Frerotte to Jamie Asher for a 14-9 lead with 1: 16 remaining in the first half.

"If the Sheriff [Richard] keeps playing like he did today, we're going to be in great shape," Green said. He tipped the Brunell pass that Richard intercepted.

"Our defense saved us," Allen said.

Washington coach Norv Turner and Frerotte spent most of their time talking about the defense.

Turner said, "I told you we had two great corners [Green and Dishman]. Our pressure on Brunell today was our coverage in the secondary. For us to hold a team like Jacksonville to 200-some yards is fantastic."

Brunell said, "There was nothing we didn't expect from

Washington. We just got outplayed."

Pub Date: 9/29/97

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