New home isn't kind to stumbling 'Skins A win and aid from others needed for playoff berth

December 21, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

As the Washington Redskins prepare for a final playoff stand today against the Philadelphia Eagles, not one player has even mentioned the advantage of playing this crucial game at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.

In past seasons, the Redskins always relied on a mystique and the rocking stands of old RFK Stadium to help bail them out of tough situations.

Now all that appears to be missing at the new $170 million stadium in Landover, and the additional 25,000 fans who show up each week seem to be more sophisticated and are considered a wine-and-cheese crowd.

The old Redskins fans were legendary for their undying support of the team, and some of that legend died on Oct. 26 when many walked out on their team early in the fourth quarter during a tight game with the Ravens.

The Ravens went on to hand the Redskins their first loss at Jack Kent Cooke after a 3-0 start in their new digs, 20-17. That setback has sent Washington on a downward spiral at home that has resulted in a loss to the lowly St. Louis Rams and a 7-7 tie with the New York Giants.

The only victory since the setback to the Ravens has been a 30-7 rout of Detroit the week before the Lions took off on their current run for the playoffs.

Washington players are disappointed with the lack of noise from fans and the many boos that have cascaded down for quarterback Gus Frerotte before he fractured a hip in the 23-20 loss to St. Louis on Nov. 30.

But no players wanted to knock the fans for fear of themselves becoming a target of boos.

One player on the 7-7-1 team did say that he was not happy with the reception in the new stadium.

"It hasn't been good," he said.

A 1-2-1 "stretch drive" at home entering today's 1 p.m. date with the Eagles (6-8-1) is the reason the Redskins need help from the Indianapolis Colts or New York Jets to make the playoffs.

Now, the Redskins need the Colts to defeat or tie the Minnesota Vikings or the Jets to beat or tie the Lions in order to keep their season alive.

The Colts will be playing the Vikings at the same time the Redskins are taking on the Eagles, prompting a huge temptation for the Washington players to do some scoreboard watching.

"We're not supposed to be watching the scoreboard," said Washington fullback Marc Logan. "If we are, we won't have our minds in the game."

Redskins coach Norv Turner said, "I'm going to be watching our scoreboard."

However, Pro Bowl cornerback Darrell Green said, "Because we're human, we'll probably be listening and hearing the results, especially if someone screams the score out."

If the Redskins and Vikings win, Washington's playoff status would then be decided by the 4 p.m. Lions-Jets game.

Putting a damper on the Redskins' hopes is the absence of running back Terry Allen, who has been put on the inactive list with his injured ankle for the third straight week.

Philadelphia (6-8-1) at Washington (7-7-1)

Time: 1 p.m, chs. 45, 5.

Line: Redskins by 5 1/2 .

Vs. spread: Eagles 5-8; Redskins 8-7.

Last week: Eagles lost to Falcons, 20-17. Redskins lost to Giants, 30-10.

Worth watching: The Redskins are depending on QB Jeff Hostetler, who was effective two weeks ago in a victory at Arizona but struggled last week in the loss to the Giants.

Outlook: The Redskins are the latest proof that too many teams make the playoffs. They can qualify for the postseason with a win and a loss by Minnesota or Detroit. If it comes down to a field goal, the Redskins will be holding their breath -- ex-Packer Chris Jacke, idle all season, replaces the injured Scott Blanton.

Notable: Eagles coach Ray Rhodes is 4-1 against the Redskins.

Injuries: EAGLES: Out: G Ian Beckles (foot); DE Darion Conner (wrist); DT Rhett Hall (knee); LB William Thomas (knee). Doubtful: T Barrett Brooks (ankle). Questionable: LB James Willis (shoulder). Probable: CB Charles Dimry (neck); WR Chris T. Jones (knee); DE Ndukwe Kalu (wrist); DB Randy Kinder (ankle).

REDSKINS: Out: K Scott Blanton (hamstring); G Tre' Johnson (shoulder-injured reserve). Questionable: RB Terry Allen (ankle). Probable: DE Jamal Duff (back); T Shar Pourdanesh (groin); S Stanley Richard (ankle); T Ed Simmons (knee); C Jeff Uhlenhake (knee).

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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