It was little consolation to the Washington Redskins and their followers, but a bitterly disappointing season ended on a positive note. The Redskins gave interim coach Terry Robiskie a victory and pushed their record back to .500 by beating the Arizona Cardinals, 20-3, yesterday before 65,711 at FedEx Field.
The stadium was four-fifths full on a cold, windy day even with two teams headed home for the holidays and the size of the crowd enabled the Redskins to set an NFL single-season attendance record for eight games (647,424), breaking the mark by more than 13,000.
Irving Fryar, the fifth-leading receiver in NFL history, said he wants to leave quietly.
(Charles Rex Arbogast - AP)
The Redskins don't plan to retain Robiskie as their head coach next season, according to sources close to the situation, with owner Daniel M. Snyder preparing to launch a coaching search this week that at least initially will focus upon Steve Spurrier and Bill Parcells. But Robiskie at least has a victory on his NFL head coaching résumé.
The Redskins won for the first time in three games since Robiskie took over for the fired Norv Turner on Dec. 4 and did it after Robiskie decided to start Brad Johnson at quarterback over Jeff George, angering George, according to team sources.
Earlier in the week, Robiskie cited George's acutely strained back in dropping him to third on the depth chart. But actually George angered Robiskie by ignoring one of the coach's calls during the 24-3 loss to Pittsburgh last week, sources said. Instead of throwing a high-percentage slant, as Robiskie had called, George called his own play -- a deep ball to wide receiver Irving Fryar. With the score tied at 3, the ball was intercepted, and the play turned the game's momentum in the Steelers' favor.
Two days later, Robiskie named Johnson the starter for yesterday's game.
According to team sources, George became angry with Robiskie when he was informed he wouldn't start against Arizona.
George declined to comment on the matter after the game and Johnson led the team to a victory that brought a Gatorade victory bath for Robiskie.
"It's a tremendous feeling," Robiskie said. "I'm ecstatic about it. I had three games, and I'd hate to say I lost all three. If this was my last game, I'll be one of the few guys to win their last game. I kept turning around looking for a TV camera to say, 'I'm going to Disneyland.' "
The Redskins finished their season of great expectations at 8-8, improving to 3-5 against NFC East opponents and 4-4 at home. The victory was their first win at FedEx Field since Oct. 15. They evened the season series with the Cardinals (3-13), whose 16-15 triumph in Arizona on Nov. 5 may have been the undoing of the Redskins' season. The Cardinals went 1-8 under Coach Dave McGinnis, who recently received a four-year contract extension.
"The Cardinals saw it in him to give him an opportunity to go on," Robiskie said. "I'd rather be 1-2 than 1-8. I hope someone sees it in me and gives me an opportunity to go on. . . . That's completely out of my hands. Whatever decision Mr. Snyder makes, I support him 100 percent. I want the job. I've applied for it. I'd love to get it. . . . I'm going to operate like the head coach until I'm told differently."
Fryar and fullback Larry Centers doused Robiskie late in the game and Redskins players expressed support for Robiskie. Fryar said he will return next season only if Robiskie is in the organization in some capacity. Still, the Redskins knew this game probably did not win him the job. Even Robiskie said he would consider remaining on the staff of another head coach.
"He's won the hearts of all the players," veteran cornerback Darrell Green said. "He's very well-respected. . . . He was put in a very tough situation. I'm very proud of him, and I hope things work out well for him."
For one day at least, all was well with the Redskins. Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey did everything. He scored the Redskins' opening touchdown on a seven-yard run. He had two receptions as a wide receiver. He returned punts, and he had a fourth-quarter interception of a pass by Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer in the end zone.