Lack of negatives biggest plus in Redskins' win against Giants

Turner: Key was erasing plays `that kept us from doing what we wanted'

Pro Football

September 26, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Washington Redskins coach Norv Turner watched the tape of Sunday night's 16-6 win over the New York Giants, then declared things were not as straightforward as they appeared.

It was more than just Brad Johnson getting the ball deep downfield. More than just Albert Connell, James Thrash, Irving Fryar and Andre Reed finally getting separation from the defensive backs while combining to catch three passes over 40 yards.

And more than just a defense that did not allow a touchdown until the final three minutes of the game.

"Without question, that was our most complete performance of the early season," Turner said. "When you have a performance like that, it is easy to talk about the big plays. Really, the No. 1 different thing from a couple of games before is that we eliminated the negative plays, the plays that kept us from doing what we wanted to do."

And that, Turner feels, is the main reason why his team is 2-2 and back in the hunt for the NFC East division title.

They eliminated the negative plays with the help of the Giants, who unlike Dallas, Detroit and Carolina, could not make the Redskins pay for their mistakes. Specifically, the Giants failed to recover a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half inside the Redskins' 20 down 10-0.

"When Mike Sellers backed up and got in the way on the kickoff return, that could have been a disaster," Turner said. "That could have been the type of play that plagued us in the Detroit and Dallas game. David Terrell made a great effort to recover the fumble."

So the negative plays were gone and the major positive plays returned to the offense for the first time this season. Johnson looked comfortable in the pocket, and the maligned receivers managed to beat an ordinary Giants secondary.

After the game, the wide-outs looked far from a group that was pleased about its best outing. Fryar declined to talk to the media, Reed was more defensive than New York's secondary and Connell did not want to talk, either, before he changed his mind. The source of the discontent was criticism of the receiving corps' being too old (Fryar and Reed), too inconsistent (Thrash) and not good enough to be a primary target (Connell).

But Sunday, Johnson was pleased with his receivers' performance, as well as his own. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

"I felt I made some good reads and some good throws," Johnson said in the locker room following the game. "We're always looking for matchups, and the first two games, we didn't have the matchups. [Sunday night], the receivers came up with some big plays over the defenders."

There was a movement to have Johnson replaced by backup Jeff George last week at Redskins Park. But Turner chose to stay with his starter, and the move proved wise.

"This thing all ties together," Turner said. "The play of every single guy that goes in the game affects someone else. Brad has played awfully well through the early parts of each game. His interceptions have come in the fourth quarter. In this game, when you are ahead ... the chances of making that kind of mistake go way down."

The defense continued to improve, holding the Giants to 261 total yards. The early touchdowns forced the Giants to pass more than they like. Quarterback Kerry Collins was sacked four times, threw an interception and went 21 of 44 for 210 yards.

Though New York's touchdown came with the game virtually decided, Turner saw room for improvement.

"We're not close to where we could be defensively," Turner said. "There are still some little things, especially in that fourth quarter, from a coverage standpoint. We let them convert third downs."

NOTES: LaVar Arrington will remain the starter at strong-side linebacker in place of Greg Jones. Arrington made his first start against the Giants and had three tackles. ... Trainer Bubba Tyer said he expects Larry Centers (hyperextended elbow) to return to practice this week. Centers did not play against New York. Center Cory Raymer will fly to Birmingham, Ala., and have his right knee further examined by James Andrews tomorrow. Raymer partially tore two ligaments in his knee during training camp, then re-injured the knee last week. Keith Sims (Achilles' tendinitis) is expected to practice this week. He left the game against the Giants early but returned. ... Turner blamed the turf for the kicking woes of Michael Husted. Husted missed a 30-yard field goal and an extra point against the Giants. Turner said he is not looking for a new kicker. ... James Jenkins (neck) was expected to practice yesterday. Jenkins had started 101 straight games before missing Sunday's.

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