For Green, it's no time to rest on his laurels Despite Cinderella game, losing to Arizona keeps ex-clipboard QB focused

November 29, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Imagine being in Trent Green's shoes this week.

He torches the Arizona Cardinals for four touchdowns and nearly leads the Washington Redskins to the greatest comeback in NFL regular-season history but can't celebrate even a little bit.

"We lost the game. I can't be happy," said Green of the 45-42 loss last Sunday to the Cardinals.

How tough is that for the newest hero among NFL quarterbacks?

Especially a man who spent his first four seasons in the NFL carrying a clipboard on the sidelines and being labeled a third-stringer. Green suited up for 63 games with the San Diego Chargers and Redskins without playing a down.

Then came the call from Norv Turner in the last game of 1997 against the Eagles when Jeff Hostetler was shaken up for one play.

Green threw a pass for Albert Connell that fell incomplete. The 28-year-old product of Indiana University could now say he actually played in the NFL.

Of course, Green wanted more than one play and one pass. But all he could do was continue to dream as he had for four years.

Just to start a game would be a major breakthrough.

But to throw for the most yards (382) and touchdowns (four, which tied Steve Young) in the NFL last Sunday was fantasy football. Green's name was truly in lights.

He had top billing over the likes of Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Steve Young and Kerry Collins.

The $325,000-a-year bargain-basement beauty had arrived.

Making the bargain even better for the Redskins was Green's 2-yard run for a touchdown against the Cardinals. He led the team in rushing in the game with 26 yards.

"If you had asked me in training camp if all this would be happening," said Green this week, "I would have told you you were crazy, because I was the third guy just a few months ago."

As he prepared to visit the Oakland Raiders (7-4) today at 4 p.m. Green said he is excited about his success but "the bottom line is we're 2-9."

But he did allow himself to enjoy the moment briefly this week. "When you go five years, four of those years as the third guy and one year sitting out, and on down the line, to get some playing time and be able to help this team move the ball and put some points on the board is kind of nice. I'm happy with the fact I've finally gotten the opportunity and I've been able to do some things with it."

Starting has been so much fun for Green that he doesn't mind all the beatings he has taken this season, due to a constantly changing offensive line that just keeps losing players to injuries.

Left guard Tre Johnson went down with a season-ending knee injury last week, and right tackle Troy Drake was also lost for the season with a knee injury.

Green was sacked five times by the Cardinals Sunday for losses of 29 yards. He also paid the price for his touchdown run, getting hit hard as he crossed the goal line.

Running back Brian Mitchell said he gained a lot of respect for Green last week.

"The Cardinals knew we had to pass, and Trent was getting hit sometimes but he hung in there and completed the passes," said Mitchell. "I was very impressed. Trent was coming into the huddle and saying, 'Just give me some protection.' You could see the confidence in his eyes."

WASHINGTON (2-9) AT OAKLAND (7-4)

Time: 4: 15 p.m., chs. 45, 5.

Line: Raiders by 7.

Vs. spread: Redskins 3-8; Raiders 6-5.

Outlook: The Raiders knew it was coming last week and they dutifully took their medicine, getting swatted by Denver. Now it's back to the rest of the league, which is far less fearsome. In this realm, QB Donald Hollas is good enough to allow the offense to hang in while CB Charles Woodson and the defense bludgeon the opponents into submission. The Redskins at least are still playing hard. QB Trent Green and WR Michael Westbrook each have something to prove -- besides, they want to look good on tape for when the new coach takes over.

Notable: Raiders have recorded an AFC-high 27 take-aways.

Injuries:

REDSKINS: Out: S Jesse Campbell (knee); T Troy Drake (knee-IR); LB Ken Harvey (knee); G Tre Johnson (knee-IR); LB Antwaune Ponds (knee-IR); DT Dana Stubblefield (knee). Questionable: RB Terry Allen (ankle); DT Marc Boutte (ankle). Probable: WR Albert Connell (knee); CB Darrell Green (knee); LB Greg Jones (ankle); WR Chris Thomas (hamstring); WR Michael Westbrook (ankle); DT Dan Wilkinson (back/toe).

RAIDERS: Out: S Eric Turner (foot). Questionable: QB Jeff George (groin); LB Richard Harvey (shoulder); DT Grady Jackson (shoulder); S Anthony Newman (ankle/toe). Probable: T Lincoln Kennedy (knee); DT Russell Maryland (shoulder).

Pub Date: 11/29/98

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