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  Monk Gains Record, Redskins Regain Form, 34-3

By Richard Justice
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 13, 1992; Page D1

It's a night that will be remembered for Art Monk's conquest of the NFL's all-time receiving record, a night that will be remembered for Mark Rypien's snapping out of a season-long slump and a night that will be remembered for Wilber Marshall playing one of the best games of his career and leading a dominating defensive effort.

But it's also a night the Redskins will remember for themselves. After four weeks when their play has ranged from erratic to awful, they dismantled the Denver Broncos from beginning to end and cruised to a 34-3 victory before 56,371 at RFK Stadium.

Still, the night didn't end without bad news. A week after losing center Jeff Bostic for the season, they may have lost all-pro tackle Jim Lachey for a month when he suffered a sprained right knee in the first quarter. {Story, Page D7.}

He'll undergo an MRI exam today, but the early prognosis is that he suffered an injury to his medial collateral ligament and appears to be headed for injured reserve. It's a sign of the straits the Redskins are in that Mo Elewonibi, in uniform for his first NFL game, played the final three quarters at left tackle.

Lachey's injury put a damper on an evening that was otherwise joyous for the Redskins, who not only rebounded from last week's stinging defeat in Phoenix, but were able to celebrate the finest moment of Monk's 13-year career when he caught passes on three straight plays late in the fourth quarter to end a two-year pursuit of Steve Largent.

"We needed this," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "There was a lot of emotion out there and a lot of good things happened. Our defense was just awesome. It was great to see Art get the record. The only three I've ever padded for him was at the end there. I wanted to get it over with. He's one of the classier guys in pro sports. Family. Community. Dedication. You name it, and Art Monk is tops."

Monk caught the record-breaker, a 10-yarder on the right sideline, with 3:12 remaining and was immediately mobbed by teammates as he pumped a fist into the air. He finished the night with seven catches for 69 yards and now has 820 for his career, one more than Largent, the former Seattle Seahawks star.

"You don't know what a relief this is to get it behind me," Monk said. "I've tried not to think about it for a while, but people kept bringing it up. They were doing that on the sideline, counting them down. Before the last one, Ron Middleton said, 'This is it.' That kind of put the pressure on me."

He had 817 catches when the Redskins got the ball back with 4:21 left, and Gibbs decided to go for the record instead of having Monk endure a week when he would be forced to think and talk about it. He called a pair of dodge routes, which have accounted for about 400 of Monk's receptions. They went for six and 18 yards, then he went to the right sideline for the record.

Rypien also was superb, bouncing back from one of his worst games to play one of his best. He sneaked for two touchdowns and threw for one, a 44-yarder to Gary Clark, as he completed 16 of 26 passes for 245 yards. The Redskins ran their record to 3-2 and are a game behind 4-1 Dallas and Philadelphia in the NFC East. They will play host to the Eagles Sunday at RFK.

"The toughest one all night was the last one to Art," Rypien said. "We all wanted him to get the record, and I wanted to get the ball there. I guess now I'll be the guy people talk about when they're sitting in a bar in 2010 wondering who threw that 820th pass to Art Monk."

But he was more serious about his own performance, saying: "It's a great way to come back after last week. It's good to be in the saddle again. The guys were very supportive all week. It was always positive. We got some one-on-one situations out there, and those are the things we've been good at hitting in the past."

Marshall moved around the field, lining up as both a defensive end and linebacker and led a blitzing defense that forced four turnovers and sacked John Elway five times. He returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown for a 17-3 lead in the first quarter and also forced a fumble and had a sack.

"We just got our tails kicked tonight," Elway said. "I just kept thinking we would get something going. I just never had any time. Wilber Marshall was spying me all night."

Linebacker Kurt Gouveia's third-quarter interception set the Redskins up on the Denver 1-yard line for another touchdown, and defensive back Sidney Johnson intercepted another late in the game as a patched-up secondary passed every test in helping limit the Broncos to 128 total yards.

"There's just not much you could say," Broncos Coach Dan Reeves said. "They were coming off a tough loss and were very fired up. That's why they're world champions. Nobody expects to get beat like that. They did a great job."

With Alvoid Mays stepping in for A.J. Johnson at cornerback, the conventional wisdom had been that the Redskins would play soft zones and not gamble on blitzing Elway. But defensive chief Richie Petitbon did just the opposite, assigning Martin Mayhew and Mays man-to-man coverage and coming hard after Elway.

"I was just having fun," Marshall said. "The defense as a whole played well and it made me look good. We figured we'd need to pick it up a notch, and we wanted it on our shoulders. Some things came to us and some things we created. We went after them hard."

The Redskins announced their defensive starters during pregame introductions, but when Rypien trotted onto the field for the first offensive series, he heard mostly cheers. Those cheers got warmer and warmer as he opened with a seven-yard completion to Monk and connected on 11 of his first 13 throws.

And he hit some big ones. After Monk caught the seven-yarder, Earnest Byner gained two yards to set up a third-and-one play. Gibbs sent in his jumbo package, using Terry Orr as an H-back and Byner as a blocking back for Ricky Ervins.

Rypien faked a handoff to Ervins and hit his longest pass of the season -- 58 yards to Orr. The play completely fooled the Broncos, and Orr, running free in the secondary, caught the ball at the 35-yard line, faked safety Alton Montgomery and ran for 22 more to the Denver 13.

Byner picked up 12, and Gibbs made sure Rypien got more cheers by calling a quarterback sneak that made it 7-0 with 11:54 left in the first quarter.

The Broncos got three of those points back when defensive end Kenny Walker knocked the ball from Byner's hands and fell on it at the Redskins 31. The Broncos gained nine yards and David Treadwell's 38-yard field goal made it 7-3 with 7:40 left in the first quarter.

The Redskins made it 10-3 by driving 56 yards for a 43-yard Chip Lohmiller field goal on their next possession. Ricky Sanders made the biggest play of the drive when he caught a high third-down pass from Rypien, first tipping it into the air, then cradling it in his stomach after he landed on his back.

Clark caught a 27-yarder on third and six at the Redskins 38, then got another 15 when safety Dennis Smith was flagged for a clothesline tackle. The play was worth 42 yards in all, and Byner and Sanders slipped down on consecutive runs. Rypien threw the ball away on a third-down blitz, and Lohmiller made it 10-3 with 3:08 left in the quarter.

The drive couldn't have been worse for the Redskins because on the field goal, Smith jumped on top of Lachey, injuring the left tackle's right knee. Thus, Elewonibi, in his first NFL game, was forced into the action.

The Broncos ran four plays, and on the fifth, Marshall blitzed Elway, knocked the ball from his hands and picked up the deflection off defensive end Fred Stokes at the 20-yard line. He ran untouched into the end zone for his 20th career interception and third touchdown.

He celebrated as he had against Phoenix last season -- by handing the ball to a fan in the stands.

"I knew I hit the ball," Marshall said, "but I didn't know it was still in there. Fred kept it alive and I happened to be able to get my hands on it."

The first quarter ended 17-3, but four plays into the second, Marshall made another big play, hooking the ball from running back Greg Lewis. Mayhew fell on the fumble at the Washington 49, but Lohmiller ended the drive by missing a 46-yard field goal.

No matter. The Broncos couldn't move, and the Redskins took over at their 23 and needed three plays to drive 77 yards and make it 24-3. On first down, Ervins swept left for 15 yards, then got 15 more when cornerback Wymon Henderson was called for a late hit.

Ervins picked up three more, and on second and seven, Rypien executed a play-fake beautifully and threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Clark. He beat Henderson badly, caught the ball in stride at the 5 and scored with 6:30 remaining in the half.

It remained 24-3 until midway through the third quarter when Gouveia stepped in front of wide receiver Derek Russell at the Redskins 16 and intercepted Elway's pass. He returned it 15 yards, and two plays later, Rypien again sneaked into the end zone for his second touchdown and a31-3 lead. Lohmiller's 36-yard field goal made it 34-3 with 10:12 remaining, and by that time the only drama surrounded Monk's pursuit of history.

© Copyright 1992 The Washington Post Company

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