October 1, 1991: Redskins Welcome Eagles to Shutout City, 23-0: 5-0 Washington Unscored Upon in RFK Stadium
The Washington Redskins wrapped their best game and their worst into one tidy package last night.
Their best was another tremendous defensive effort. It was five sacks and a thoroughly smothering effort, limiting the Philadelphia Eagles to 81 yards. It was an offense that turned enough chances into enough points. Finally, it was a victory. The Redskins defeated the Eagles, 23-0, before 55,198 at RFK Stadium.
Their worst was five fumbles, eight penalties and especially quarterback Mark Rypien, who had a nightmarish night, throwing a pair of interceptions and fumbling four times, losing two of them.
In short order, the Redskins (5-0) remained unbeaten and took control of the NFC East race, leading Philadephia, Dallas and Phoenix by two games and the New York Giants (2-3) by three. It was their third straight home shutout -- the first team to do that since the 1934 Detroit Lions.
The Redskins have outscored the Lions, Cardinals and Eagles at RFK Stadium by the combined score of 102-0. They did it with a pair of interceptions from Darrell Green, one from Andre Collins and a pair of sacks from Charles Mann to hold the Eagles to a staggering 81 yards offense. They did it with 119 total yards from Earnest Byner and three Chip Lohmiller field goals, the last one with 11 seconds remaining. Gerald Riggs gained 70 yards on only nine carries.
They also got some luck. Eagles quarterback Jim McMahon injured his right knee in the second quarter and didn’t return. His replacement, Pat Ryan, the career backup, was terrible, four of 14 for 24 yards and three interceptions. He was sacked twice and the Eagles never got anything going.
The Redskins are 5-0 for the first time since 1986 and only the first time ever. They also have three shutouts in a single season for the first time in 46 yards and have five shutouts in their last 22 games.
Rypien completed 15 of 23 pases for 204 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. His 19-yarder to Monk with 7:56 left in the first half finished a 54-yard drive and gave the Redskins all the points they needed. But his mistakes, especially the fumbles, kept them in trouble all night.
Lohmiller’s first field goal made it 10-0 at the half and the lone time the Eagles threatened was stopped by Green’s intercepton in the end zone in the third quarter. A Rypien fumble had given them possession at the Washington 10. Charles Man had two sacks for the Redskins, and Fred Stokes, Jumpy Geathers and Wilber Marshall had one apiece.
The Eagles had their longest possession of the first half on their first possession when McMahon took them from their 10 to the Washington 47. McMahon missed wide receiver Fred Barnett on third and four, but before that wideout Roy Green had dropped a first-down pass.
The Redskins got the ball and did what they did the entire half -- make a big play and follow it up with big mistakes. The big play was a beauty, coming on third and eight from their 18. Rypien hit wide receiver Gary Clark for 75 yards when Clark came back in front of cornerback Eric Allen and caught an underthrown ball at the Philadelphia 40.
Clark cut across the field, spun away from defensive back Rich Miano and got all the way to the 7-yard line. Byner picked up five on first down, but on second and goal at the 2, Riggs lost a yard.
Rypien then made his first mistake as he threw behind Clark and Allen, who was trailing Clark, intercepted in the end zone with 7:35 left in the first quarter. It was only the second time this season the Redskins hadn’t scored after crossing the opponents’ 25; they’d hit 14 in a row before the interception.
The Eagles went nowhere on their next possession as rookie tackle Antone Davis was called for a false start and holding, then beaten by defensive end Charles Mann for a third-down sack of McMahon. The Redskins couldn’t move, and the Eagles got the ball back at their 35.
They couldn’t move and on third and four, McMahon scrambled out of the pocket and while trying to outrun defensive lineman Tim Johnson to the sideline, injured his right knee.
Linebacker Seth Joyner forced a Rypien fumble two plays later to end the first quarter. But with Ryan in the game, the Eagles again went nowhere, and the Redskins finally put a scoring drive together.
Brian Mitchell’s seven-yard punt return gave them the ball at their 46 with 13:18 left in the half, and they needed nine plays and 5:22 to drive 54 yards, Monk scoring on a 19-yard pass from Rypien. Byner got the ball on six of the nine plays and gained 25 yards. Monk caught a 10-yarder. H-back Jimmie Johnson caught another for no gain.
On third and nine at the Philadelphia 19, Monk got behind cornerback Izel Jenkins and linebacker Byron Evans. Rypien hit him in stride, and with 7:56 left in the half, the Redskins led 7-0.
The Eagles again couldn’t move, and Mitchell’s 14-yard return gave the Redskins possession on the Philadelphia 36. Byner picked up gains of two and six, and Rypien made a nice play, hitting Sanders for three yards against a full blitz. Byner gained up five on first down at the 25, but Rypien got big pressure and threw two incompletions, and Chip Lohmiller kicked a 37-yard field goal with 3:26 left in the half.
Philadelphia’s next possession ended with Darrell Green intercepting a tipped pass. Rypien then made a terrible play. Working against the blitz, he tried to dump the ball and instead threw it to Evans, who picked it up and returned it to the Washington 28. Instant replays showed Evans had trapped the ball and the call was reversed.
But Rypien did it again. On the next play, he threw the ball behind Clark, who tipped it to Seth Joyner with 1:20 left. The Eagles still couldn’t move and the half ended with the Redskins still leading 10-0.
Rypien had more troubles as the second half opened. On third and seven from his 23, he stumbled and fumbled as he began a rollout. Safety Wes Hopkins recovered at the 10-yard line for the Eagles.
Two plays later, cornerback Darrell Green saved the shutout by stepping in front of wide receiver Kenny Jackson in the end zone for his second interception of the game.
The Redskins kept the ball for 8 1/2 minutes, with Lohmiller’s 35-yard field goal making it 13-0 with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
Rypien made some nice plays. He hit Sanders for 13. He hit Ricky Ervins for 23 on third and 15. A 37-yard touchdown pass to Monk was called back when tackle Jim Lachey was called for holding Clyde Simmons. Rypien missed Clark on third and five from the Philadelphia 18, and the Redskins settled for Lohmiller’s field goal.
The Eagles were stuffed again, and the Redskins could have put the game away after punter Jeff Feagles’ shank gave them the ball at the Philadelphia 37. Byner carried five times for 13 yards and caught a 10-yard pass. But on second and nine from the 14, Rypien fumbled the snap. Defensive tackle Jerome Brown recovered, and the Eagles were still alive.
Not for long. Two plays later, linebacker Andre Collins intercepted a Ryan pass and returned it 18 yards to the 7. Rypien threw to the end zone for Hog Russ Grimm (lined up at tight end) on first down. Grimm was called for pass interference, but on first and goal from the 17, Byner caught a swing pass for 14 to the 3. Byner gained two, a false start was called on guard Raleigh McKenzie, but Byner scored anyway on a seven-yard run with 11:21 left, making it 20-0.