Redskins make Eagles believers

13-3 win 5th in row

rise to 5-5 an NFL 1st

November 26, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - Now that they've made one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NFL history, it might be time to not only proclaim the Washington Redskins as visionaries, but a decent football team to boot.

The Redskins, who have been proclaiming for weeks that they weren't as bad as their 0-5 start seemed to indicate, yesterday backed up what appeared to be their outlandish opinions with a smash-mouth, grind-it-out, 13-3 win over the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles.

The win not only silenced their critics, but also improbably moved the Redskins to within a game of the division lead as they became the first team in NFL history to win five straight after losing its first five games.

"It's becoming a total team effort," said linebacker LaVar Arrington. "We're really starting to put it together. We're just taking it one game at a time with the hugest chip on our shoulders that you could possibly have.

"We were in the gutter. People had us in the recycling bin. And we're still here. Through it all, we are still here. And we're going to continue to fight, week in and week out."

It's pretty much that formula, albeit on a smaller scale, that earned Washington its biggest win of the season.

"That's why you coach," said coach Marty Schottenheimer. "That's why we do what we do. The satisfaction of a coach is to watch young men with ability take a little bit of the information you give them and go play in a winning fashion.

"It's like you're out there playing and you live vicariously through their performance. That's the thing. That why we do it."

The Redskins dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 38 minutes, but they had only a Ki-Jana Carter touchdown and two Brett Conway field goals to show for the effort.

While quarterback Tony Banks would only throw for 96 yards, on a 12-for-18 day, the Redskins had success running the ball as Stephen Davis and Carter combined for 135 yards on 40 carries.

When Davis left the game in the first period with a bruised back, Carter, the No. 1 pick overall in the 1995 draft who missed all of last season after being cut by the Cincinnati Bengals, filled in capably.

After Banks hit tight end Zeron Flemister with a 23-yard pass to set up a first-and-goal at the Eagles' 7, Carter trotted into the end zone one play later on a 5-yard run for his first touchdown in more than two years.

"It [the touchdown] has been a long time coming, but this is what I was supposed to do," said Carter. "You're supposed to have this expectation that when they call your number, that's when you're supposed to go.

"I'm humble and I'm thankful for everything that's happened to me. When you sit out for a year, all the big things mean nothing and all the little things are important. I miss being around the guys and being sore after a game, like I am now. I'm enjoying every moment of it."

The Redskins' defense, maligned at the beginning of the season, was outstanding yesterday, limiting Philadelphia (6-4) to 186 total yards and keeping quick-footed quarterback Donovan McNabb in the pocket and out of running lanes, where he is prone to do maximum damage - witness his 125-yard performance in last year's Eagles win over the Redskins.

"We managed to take McNabb out of his rhythm," said defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson. "We didn't want him to get into a flow. We needed to keep the pressure on. They weren't able to do what they wanted."

Indeed, the Eagles not only didn't get a first down until the two-minute warning of the first half, but Philadelphia's furthest advance into Washington territory was to the Redskins' 32 on a third-quarter drive that yielded their only score, a 49-yard field goal by David Akers.

"You have to give some credit to the Washington Redskins," said McNabb, who was 15-for-26 for 92 yards and drew catcalls from the Veterans Stadium crowd.

"They're not a bad team, especially with their man-to-man coverage. They have confidence. When that opportunity could have been made, we didn't take advantage of it."

The Redskins managed to stuff the Eagles on two attempted fourth-down conversions in the fourth quarter as, first, Darrell Green broke up an intended pass from McNabb to rookie receiver Freddie Mitchell on fourth-and-three on the first play of the quarter.

After the Redskins went three-downs-and-out on the ensuing possession, Washington's defense again stopped the Eagles on fourth down, this time as rookie back Correll Buchhalter was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-one at the Washington 35.

"It's all about heart," said cornerback Champ Bailey. "We knew that they only needed a couple of yards, but we had to stop him. It was nothing that we did special. It was what we'd been doing the whole game."

From there, the offense went to work to finish off the job, driving to the Philadelphia 14 and running nearly eight minutes off the clock as Banks completed two key passes, one to Rod Gardner for 13 yards on a third-and-nine and another to Michael Westbrook on a second-and-nine for 11 yards.

Finally, Conway entered and kicked a 32-yard field goal that sent what was left of the silenced crowd of 65,666 home.

"Every quarterback in the league gets paid to make those kinds of throws," said Banks, who was knocked out of last week's win over Denver with a concussion.

"It's not always going to be a wide-open guy, but in the NFL, you have to make throws that big-time quarterbacks make, and I've always liked to consider myself a big-time quarterback."

And, all of a sudden, the Washington Redskins are not only clairvoyant, but a big-time team.

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