'Skins spill Eagles but still fall short Lions' win over Jets has Turner, Washington on outside looking in

December 22, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- A subdued Norv Turner stood at a bank of microphones last night at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and talked about the latest playoff failure for the 8-7-1 Washington Redskins despite their 35-32 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the day.

"I don't feel bad for myself," Turner said moments after the Detroit Lions had knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs with a 13-10 victory over the New York Jets. "I'll be coaching a long time. The people I feel sorry for are the Ken Harveys, Darrell Greens and Cris Dishmans. They're in their 30s and are out there every day fighting their butts off to win games and go to the playoffs. They don't have that many chances left.

"Ken Harvey [32 years old] has never been in the playoffs. He doesn't know the thrill of being in a championship game, the playoffs or a Super Bowl. I've been there [as offensive coordinator with Dallas Cowboys] and it's something special. The young guys on the team think they're going to play forever."

Green didn't wait around last night to find out if Washington was in or out of the playoffs after the Redskins had turned back the Philadelphia Eagles with the help of a 83-yard interception return for a touchdown by Green.

"I'm going to church," said Green. "I'm sure I'll find out soon enough."

Washington cornerback Dishman said he was going home and planned to show up at Redskin Park today "just like we had made the playoffs."

But the 9-7 Lions snatched the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs with their victory and the 9-7 Minnesota Vikings claimed the sixth and final playoff berth.

Turner tried to play down his run of emotions while watching the Lions rally from a 10-0 deficit to beat the Jets but said he yelled at the screen once.

"I hollered when that halfback option pass [thrown by Jets' Leon Johnson] was intercepted," said Turner, who came the closest in his four years as coach to putting the Redskins in the playoffs.

When asked which game or games he would like to have back, Turner said, "I know most people talk about the Baltimore and St. Louis games because they perceive those teams to be bad. But they both beat the Giants, who are our division champs.

"The games I look on are the one-point loss [14-13] to Pittsburgh which we could have won and the loss to Dallas [17-14] when we were up by eight with five minutes left."

It was all kind of unbelievable yesterday for the Redskins.

They had been through 130 practices in five months, two full-scale scrimmages, four preseason games and 16 regular-season games but still had to watch a television screen for three hours to see if they were going to the playoffs.

It didn't matter that Brian Mitchell had reached back for one more kickoff return of 74 yards late in the fourth quarter to help keep Washington's playoff hopes alive for three more hours.

The Eagles (6-9-1) had just jolted the front-running Redskins with a 13-play, 58-yard touchdown drive and two-point conversion to cut the lead to 28-25 with 6: 41 left in the game.

Mitchell fielded Chris Boniol's kickoff on one bounce at the 8-yard line and took off downfield behind an early block by Larry Bowie and two later bone-crunching blocks by James Thrash.

Mitchell spun through three would-be tacklers at his 25-yard line, bulled his way through two more tacklers at midfield and then bolted to the Philadelphia 14-yard line before he was dragged down by Willie Clark.

Three plays later, Jeff Hostetler hit Michael Westbrook with a 7-yard touchdown pass to send the Redskins ahead, 35-25, with five minutes left in the game.

It proved to be the winning score when the Eagles came back once again in the final minutes to score on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Bobby Hoying to Freddie Solomon, reducing the lead to 35-32 with 1: 09 on the clock.

Pub Date: 12/22/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.