Not much sibling revelry in week after mistakes Turk brothers each take blame for snap that led to safety, loss to Arizona

November 15, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Amid all the controversy of a 1-8 season and players coming and going, an encouraging story of brotherly love developed last week on the Washington Redskins.

It revolves around outstanding veteran long snapper Dan Turk and his younger brother, Matt, the team's two-time Pro Bowl punter.

Dan Turk, 38, is fiercely proud and protective of Matt, 30, and the two made NFL history last season by becoming the first long snapper/punter brother combination in the NFL after Dan signed with the Redskins in July 1997.

Dan Turk is also Matt's agent and negotiated his 1997 contract with the Redskins, adding to their close-knit relationship on and off the field.

Going into last Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Turks had been nearly flawless in their snapping and punting performances.

But suddenly in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals, when Matt Turk was backed up in his end zone to punt on fourth-and-29 from the Washington 4-yard line, disaster struck in the form of a slightly high snap by Dan that sailed through Matt's hands out of the end zone for a safety.

It gave Arizona a 23-17 lead, and Washington lost, 29-27, on a 47-yard field goal by Joe Nedney with two seconds left in the game. The difference in the game turned out to be the two-point safety and left the Turks in the unenviable position of explaining what went wrong.

Matt Turk said there was no doubt about it: He was at fault for not catching the ball.

"I'm a basketball player and have good hands," said Matt, who is eager to make amends today against the 2-7 Philadelphia Eagles at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. "I told my brother I can catch that ball with one hand. I don't know what happened. It just went right through my hands. It's the first time in my career anything like that has happened. Maybe I was looking at the back line of the end zone."

Not so fast, Dan said, taking the blame.

"I pride myself on being perfect," Dan said. "And every snapper around the league can look at that snap and tell you it was my fault. I'm supposed to put that ball on a tee for him. Matt tries to take up for me, but it's not going to work. Every time I think about it, it makes me sick. I spent a miserable day off with my family Tuesday. Practice won't help make up for that mistake. I just need to focus more the next time."

The two brothers have spent many hours together practicing hundreds of punts every week over the past several years.

It showed as Matt made the Pro Bowl for a second time in three seasons last year, and Dan added to his reputation as one of the top long snappers in the NFL. Dan came to Washington after 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders.

The Turks have become quite a team off the field, too, following their entrepreneurial instincts by opening a hot dog stand, "Dog Depot," in Sterling, Va.

Matt had worked as a bartender and roofer and for a moving company while waiting for a chance to make the NFL out of little Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1993. He was unsuccessful in his first two NFL tryouts, being cut by the Green Bay Packers in 1993 and the Rams in 1994.

Matt was also prepared to open a sports bar in Milwaukee or teach elementary school if he hadn't made the Redskins in 1995.

Philadelphia (2-7) at Washington (1-8)

Time: 1: 01 p.m., chs. 45, 5.

Line: Redskins by 4.

Vs. spread: Eagles 4-4; Redskins 2-7.

Outlook: The Eagles won last week, but even their fans were unimpressed. After all, Philadelphia is last in scoring with 89 points, almost 100 fewer than the league average of 186.5. The only suspense here is when coach Ray Rhodes is axed. His equally beleaguered counterpart, Washington's Norv Turner, was this close to beginning a winning streak last week when his defense let him down again. The Redskins have allowed a .603 completion percentage and have managed 15 sacks, next to last in the league. Good thing the Eagles can't throw.

Notable: Redskins have had 24 points taken off scoreboard by penalties this season.


EAGLES: Out: LB James Darling (knee); QB Rodney Peete (finger). Questionable: CB Troy Vincent (concussion). Probable: WR Russell Copeland (hip); CB Al Harris (hip); CB Tim McTyer (quad); RB Duce Staley (quad); DT Brandon Whiting (leg).

REDSKINS: Out: RB Terry Allen (ankle); TE Jamie Asher (knee); DT Marc Boutte (ankle); S Jesse Campbell (knee); DT Dana Stubblefield (knee); WR Chris Thomas (hamstring). Doubtful: T Joe Patton (knee). Questionable: G Tre Johnson (knee). Probable: T Shar Pourdanesh (groin); LB Derek Smith (leg).

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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