Davis helps Redskins take Giant leap into sole possession of 1st

Back rushes for 183 yards in 23-13 win over New York

Turner still feels strain

Nfl Week 11

November 22, 1999|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- In another time, under different circumstances, this would have been a victory for coach Norv Turner to savor.

The Washington Redskins, losers of three of their past four games, parlayed five turnovers and a 183-yard rushing effort by Stephen Davis into a 23-13 victory over the New York Giants yesterday.

It put Washington in sole possession of first place in the NFC East at 6-4 with six games left and should have been a reason to celebrate. After all, the Redskins' defense, ranked worst in the league, held the Giants to one touchdown.

But the beleaguered Redskins' coach can't even seem to enjoy the wins these days even though he called it "as good a win as I've been involved in."

That's saying a lot since he won a pair of Super Bowl rings as an offensive coordinator in Dallas.

At his post-game news conference, though, Turner sounded like a coach who had just lost.

The strain of the pressure from owner Dan Snyder, who's made it obvious Turner will be fired if he doesn't make the playoffs, and the criticism from the media, seemed to be taking a toll on him. He wanted to talk about the past criticism.

"Hey, you can criticize this group and criticize me when we screw up," he said. " We call the wrong plays sometimes. We go the wrong way sometimes. We drop a ball. We may get beat. But don't challenge this group and question their effort, their character, their ability to compete."

Turner then brought up that it was noted that quarterback Brad Johnson said "we" instead of "I" after he threw three interceptions and fumbled twice in the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Turner was almost shouting as he said, "Hey if our quarterback says the wrong thing after a game, if he says `we' instead of `I,' let him say `we.' He's as good a competitor as I've ever been around. He played poorly last week. Maybe he didn't say the right thing after the game, but you know what, I'd like to have him on my team every single time. This city, the fans here, they're lucky they got him."

Although Turner said that winning is fun, he was told he didn't sound like he was enjoying it. He replied, "I'll enjoy it later."

The players can feel empathy for Turner.

"This helps secure all of our jobs. We're all safe for another week," said defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, who has been criticized for not living up to his $36 million contract.

Stubblefield said of Turner's situation: "I couldn't even imagine coming into work, don't even know if I'm going to have a job."

He then laughed as he added: "Situation like that, you lose a lot of hair."

Stubblefield got serious again and said, "Of course, he's going to get all shook up and emotional about it. It's more than him just beating the Giants. It's more than him being in first place. It's deep in for him. He takes it to heart."

Stubblefield added, "It was a great win for the whole organization. [It was] Mr. Snyder's birthday. They just wheeled the cake out. He said, `Good job, and let's do it again next week.' "

The one-week reprieve, though, won't do much to lessen the pressure on Turner and his coaches.

Although they should improve to 7-4 next week when they host Philadelphia, their last five games include trips to Detroit and a home game against Miami in the season-finale.

Turner was quick to acknowledge it doesn't mean anything being in first place today. What's important is being in first place on Jan. 3 when the regular season ends.

The Redskins didn't exactly play like a playoff team. They made seven trips to the Giants' red zone and got just one touchdown. They missed three field-goal attempts. They were called for pass interference in the end zone. They botched a play at the Giants' 1 and fumbled.

They dominated the first half, but led only 10-6 at halftime because of their own mistakes and finally won because the Giants made too many mistakes of their own.

"There were just way too many self-inflicted wounds," Giants coach Jim Fassel said.

The Giants, noted for their rushing defense, couldn't stop Davis much of the day and were guilty of three critical errors in the fourth quarter.

On a third-and-five play at midfield on the first play of the fourth period, Kerry Collins, who came on in the second quarter when Kent Graham went out with a concussion, lost the ball on a sack by Ndukwe Kalu. Marco Coleman picked it up and ran 42 yards for a touchdown that made it 20-6.

After the Giants cut the deficit to 20-13, they had a first down at the Washington 27 with just over four minutes left and appeared to be driving for the tying touchdown.

But Collins fumbled a snap, and Kenard Lang recovered it on the Washington 39. Three plays later, the Giants appeared to have stopped the Redskins on third down to force a punt.

But Percy Ellsworth jumped on the pile on Johnson, who had lost a yard. He was called for a personal foul to give the Redskins a first down and set up the clinching field goal. Ellsworth said he was retaliating and added: "The referee always see the second guy."

Fassel said, "You've got to be smart football team and play smart."

The Giants didn't that, but they're not counting themselves out.

Said cornerback Jason Sehorn: "Here's the big picture. We're in a terrible division. They are going to lose. We pretty much rely on that."

NOTES: Michael Westbrook played with a cast on his hand. He caught only one pass and dropped one. But he didn't blame the drop on his cast. He said he was trying to go upfield . Dana Stubblefield brushed off the comments by Michael Strahan in an ESPN pre-game interview that Stubblefield was stealing money with his big contract and should have to wear a mask and a gun. He said he's friends with Strahan and added, "No personal vendettas. I'm not going to go out there and go after him before he gets on the bus. I'm not going to do none of that tunnel fighting stuff or none of that.

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