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Week 14

Turner, Redskins on the Edge After Giant Loss

Coach's Job Is in Immediate Jeopardy; Starting Quarterback Replaced

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 4, 2000; Page D01

The Washington Redskins might have sealed their fate for this season on a day filled with more offensive futility, place-kicking misadventures and locker-room angst. They also may have said their goodbyes to Coach Norv Turner and, in effect, quarterback Brad Johnson.

A late comeback bid led by backup quarterback Jeff George failed because of a controversial instant-replay reversal and a 49-yard field goal attempt by veteran kicker Eddie Murray in the final minute that fell short. The Redskins lost to the New York Giants, 9-7, before 83,485 yesterday at FedEx Field, and moved a step closer to missing the playoffs.

Eddie Murray misses the potential game-winning field goal against the Giants as the Redskins fall to 7-6. (Nick Wass - AP)

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"Something has to be done," wide receiver Albert Connell said after the Redskins lost for the fourth time in five games and dropped to 7-6. "I don't know what it is, but something has to be done. . . . This could be our season right here. It's going to be hard. I don't know what the deal is with the playoffs, but it's hard on us now."

The Redskins seriously were considering firing Turner today, sources close to the situation said. Turner left the stadium around 6 p.m., about two hours after the game was completed, without knowing his fate. Owner Daniel M. Snyder met with his partner, Fred Drasner, at length while Turner waited in another room.

Snyder and Drasner were sorting through a list of prospective candidates as their deliberations continued last night, sources said.

Johnson also may have had his Redskins tenure all but ended on a bitter note. Johnson struggled to move the offense in his return to the lineup after missing the last three games with a knee injury. The main factor was a Giants pass rush that the Redskins' offensive line failed to contain. He threw a damaging fourth-quarter interception deep in New York territory.

Turner turned midway through the fourth quarter to George, who led the Redskins on a 97-yard touchdown drive and then took them down the field again in the final minutes.

But a crucial would-be completion to wide receiver James Thrash at the Giants 19-yard line with 1 minute 22 seconds remaining was overturned by a replay review. Referee Ed Hochuli ruled that Thrash had failed to control the ball before it hit the ground. The Redskins believed otherwise, but were left with Murray falling short on his his 49-yard attempt with 56 seconds left. The kick was on line, but several yards short of the crossbar, and the Giants (9-4) ran the final 50 seconds off the clock with a pair of kneel-downs by quarterback Kerry Collins.

"That is as poorly as we have performed offensively as long as I can remember," Turner said. "We were unable to block people. . . . We struggled to execute some pretty basic things."

Turner said he would start George ahead of Johnson in next Sunday's game at Dallas, and any new Redskins coach likely would make the same choice. Johnson is eligible for unrestricted free agency in the offseason, and might have taken his final snap with the team.

Murray also sent a 39-yard field goal try off the left upright in the second quarter yesterday, and it's possible the Redskins could turn to a fifth field goal kicker this season. Murray, 44, misfired on a 44-yard field goal attempt with just over a minute to play in the Redskins' three-point loss to the Philadelphia Eagles eight days ago. But at this point, the Redskins might have no alternatives remaining.

"The story of our season has been field goals," Connell said. "As an offense, we're not scoring, so we need the field goals. Not to knock Eddie, but we have to have it. We don't have to have it every time. But we need to get some of them."

The Redskins' defense limited the Giants to field goals of 46, 27 and 28 yards by Brad Daluiso. But it wasn't enough because the Redskins' offense permitted Johnson to be harassed all afternoon and went nearly two quarters without a first down.

"It's a team sport," Redskins safety Sam Shade said. "We lose together."

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