LANDOVER -- The same Washington Redskins team vilified in September and October by nearly everybody walked off the field at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium yesterday with another fourth-quarter comeback victory -- and the hearts of its fans.
"Darrell Darrell Darrell," chanted the Washington fans in the final minute of the game after Darrell Green, their 38-year-old hero, had intercepted a Trent Dilfer pass to wrap up a 20-16 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was the second fourth-quarter comeback win in the last three weeks for Washington after not having one late victory in nearly five years under coach Norv Turner.
Turner was so taken up by the moment that he went on to the field to congratulate Green in an emotional scene that also included several other Redskins players.
Green almost performed a Cal Ripken-style victory lap, running off the field with the ball and heading toward the stands in one long dash.
"I am very fortunate to be here," said Green. "And I endear [myself to the] the fans just as much as they do me. To play here for all of these years and just be embraced by the fans, there is nothing greater. I will retire as a Redskin. It's just been a great place to play and it's so great to hear these fans cheering after all that bag head stuff. Booing is OK. I can deal with that. But the bag heads and some of the things they said were way too vicious."
Turner said, "Darrell Green makes me smile by just walking into a room. He has more energy and more life in him than anyone. He puts a big smile on my face. I was laughing at him last week after we won. I am lucky to have had a chance to coach him."
They were all celebrating a fourth straight win, which puts the Redskins one victory away from producing the biggest turnaround from an 0-7 start in NFL history.
Washington (6-9) can surpass the 1978 St. Louis Cardinals by defeating the Dallas Cowboys next week in the final game of the season in Dallas. Those '78 Cardinals started 0-7 but finished 6-10.
The Redskins also seriously damaged Tampa Bay's playoff hopes. The Buccaneers (7-8) are battling the Arizona Cardinals (7-7) for the final NFC playoff berth and fell further behind Arizona in the tiebreaker with a 6-6 record in the NFC.
Arizona is 7-4 against NFC opposition entering its home game today against New Orleans. The Cardinals could lock up the final NFC berth with a victory today.
The deciding touchdown came on a beautiful catch by rookie tight end Stephen Alexander, who reached out with his right hand to pull in the ball while backpedaling into the end zone with 5: 49 left in the game.
The 15-yard touchdown pass from Trent Green was thrown behind Alexander, who became one of the game's stars.
After dropping a pass at the Tampa Bay 45-yard line earlier in the fourth quarter when he was wide open, Trent Green came back to Alexander five more times for completions, including the eventual game winner.
"That touchdown catch by Stephen was one of the best I've ever seen," said Turner. He and all our players just kept busting their butts the entire game and won it because we played as a team."
Alexander caught six passes for 62 yards and the one touchdown yesterday as the Redskins rallied from a 16-7 third-quarter deficit.
The Redskins did have some help from the Bucs, who had won three straight, as Dilfer threw two interceptions in the final 4: 49 of the game after his team fell behind, 20-16.
The first Dilfer interception in the late going was made by Greg Jones at the Tampa Bay 40-yard line on a ball that bounced off receiver Bert Emanuel's hands.
The deciding touchdown was set up by a fumble by Tampa Bay's Jacquez Green on a kickoff following a 35-yard Cary Blanchard field goal, which reduced the Tampa Bay lead to 16-13 with 6: 06 remaining.
Green took the Brett Conway kickoff on the Tampa Bay 3-yard line and ran to the 13 where he was hit by Chris Thomas and fumbled, with Mike Sellers recovering at the Bucs' 15-yard line.
On the first play after the fumble, Trent Green and Alexander struck for the touchdown. "We kept going back to Stephen because we spotted a weakness that left him open," said Trent Green.
Pub Date: 12/20/98