Once 0-5, Redskins enjoying even keel

Focus is steady at .500, 1 back of NFC East lead

Pro Football

November 27, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer was given two chances during his normal Monday news conference to stand and bray that he really did know what he was doing during the team's horrendous 0-5 start.

But even with the platform of a five-game winning streak to stand on, Schottenheimer, whether out of humility or supreme self-confidence, let both pitches sail by like a batter taking a 3-0 fastball.

"This is the National Football League," Schottenheimer said. "The minute you blink, well, you only have to look at the results of [Sunday]. We'll continue to look at it one day at a time, one game at a time. We said at the outset that this is a marathon, and we still have a lot of work to do."

That may be true, but the work should seem a lot easier given that the Redskins (5-5) are just one game from first place in the NFC East after Sunday's 13-3 win over the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles. Washington will play host to Dallas at FedEx Field on Sunday and travel to Arizona the following week.

"We have a lot of things going for us right now," said running back Ki-Jana Carter. "We're on a roll and we have a lot of confidence. We just want to keep this thing going. Who knows how far we can go?"

The Redskins cleared a major obstacle Sunday at Veterans Stadium, dominating the Eagles defensively and coming up with just enough big offensive plays at precisely the right moments to become the first team in league history to lose their first five games, then win the next five.

While quarterback Tony Banks didn't pile up gaudy numbers, going 12-for-18 for 96 yards, he made two big completions on Washington's final 15-play drive in the fourth quarter that ate up nearly nine minutes and set up Brett Conway's clinching 32-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining.

On a third-and-nine play on the Washington 37, Banks hit receiver Rod Gardner with a 13-yard pass to midfield. One play later, on second-and-nine from the Eagles' 49, Banks found Michael Westbrook for 11 yards and another first down. From there, the Redskins ran the ball 10 straight times leading up to Conway's kick.

"We played really hard," Schottenheimer said. "There was a very, very high energy level from both teams and we managed to make the plays that had to be made."

After limiting Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Griese to just 114 yards passing the week before, the Washington defense thoroughly shut down Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb, who was 15-for-27 for just 92 yards.

Just as importantly, the Redskins kept McNabb, who ran for 125 yards in a game against them last year, in check. He ran for only 39 yards, 33 coming on the game's final play when the matter had been decided.

"Our main objective was to stop the run," said defensive lineman Kenard Lang. "In the past couple of weeks, he had been running like a madman against Minnesota and Dallas. Our main thing was to stop the run and make McNabb beat us from the pocket. We played pretty well."

Perhaps the only defensive lapse of the day came in the third quarter when linebacker LaVar Arrington was flagged for unnecessary roughness when he slapped at Eagles offensive lineman Tra Thomas. Replays showed that Thomas speared Arrington as he lay on the ground during a running play. Three plays later, Philadelphia scored its only points, a 49-yard field goal.

Arrington, who threw his helmet in anger on the sideline, was lectured by Schottenheimer about losing his composure.

"I told him what we have to do is use some self-restraint in situations like that," Schottenheimer said. "But that's easy for me to say. I wasn't the one who was speared on the ground. What can happen? You can be disqualified from the football game. If that happens, we have a major problem."

Schottenheimer said he expects the league to review film of the play.

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