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  Latest From the Bandwagon: It's In the Bag

By Tony Kornheiser
Washington Post Columnist
Wednesday, October 2, 1991; Page F01

Tony Kornheiser First, there was the Body Bag game, when the Eagles so manhandled them that the Redskins gave up calling plays and called 911 instead. Then, came the Buddy Bag game, wherein the brain-dead Buddy Ryan shot himself in the head by lifting Randall Cunningham. Now, should we call this one the Booby Bag game? Talk about taking home the Booby Prize. How would you like to reach into a grab bag for a quarterback, and pull out -- Pat Ryan? Aaggghhh!

Of course the forced entry of Mr. Ryan for the punk doofus Jim McMahon has perpetuated the notion that the Redskins still haven't beaten anyone. What are the Eagles without McMahon, sneer the detractors. As if McMahon -- who has spent most of his career impersonating a tube of Ben Gay and was buried so deep behind Cunningham that his nickname was "Freddie Krueger" -- was somehow Johnny Unitas. So the deconstruction of the Redskins goes on:

Detroit without Barry Sanders.

(Oh sure, he'd have scored 46 points by himself. He's done it so many times before. Last year Sanders had 83 touchdowns against the NFC Central alone.)

Dallas, only after Emmitt Smith got a tummy ache.

(No question Smith was on pace to gain 650 yards. Bubba Tyer knew this and snuck over to the Cowboys' bench and force-fed Smith nine Dove Bars.)

Phoenix without Timm Rosenbach.

(Timm Rosenbach? Timm Rosenbach? Of the Canton Rosenbachs?)

Cincinnati, with James Brooks missing the second half.

(Oh please. He had 15 yards in seven carries. The Bengals didn't miss James Brooks any more than they'd have missed Our Miss Brooks.)

Conspiracy theorists -- those nattering nabobs of negativism -- are alive and well throughout this town, including this newspaper. My esteemed colleagues "Doubting" Thomas Boswell and Michael "My Kind Of Town, Chicago Is" Wilbon have each suggested that the Redskins are the luckiest group since The Pompeii Theatrical Troupe that spent 79 A.D. performing Aeschylus on a tour of Mesopotamian state fairs. As the undisputed resident homer, let me say yet again for their benefit:

Most points.

Most shutouts. Three in five games; nearing Koufax territory.

Widest gap between points-for and points-against: plus-111! Forget Gretzky, Maurice Richard wasn't plus-111.

Three full games at home, 12 full quarters, and they still haven't given up a point. Not one. (The Redskins lead the O's in home shutouts, 3-2.) They could be playing in Group F.

"Since we're in Washington, maybe we can ask the president to fix it so all our games are at home," Eric Williams suggested.

Lucky?

Were the '27 Yankees lucky?

Tony, how many times are we going to have to read this same tired column?

Until the Redskins lose.

What happens then?

I bury them, of course.

Some of you will say, quite correctly, that Mark Rypien didn't have much of a game Monday night: two interceptions and four fumbles. (Of course compared with Pat Ryan he looked good; compared with Pat Ryan, Pat Buchanan looked good.) Rypien got away with another interception, threw behind some receivers and over others, and twice turned over the ball inside the Eagles 15-yard line. After cruising handsomely through four unpressured starts, this was the kind of hesitant, unsteady game that prompts The $64,000 Question: Can they win the Super Bowl with this guy?

Well, you surely wouldn't want to have this kind of game against Buffalo. On the other hand, all-pro wide receiver Russ "The Flea" Grimm (who might have caught that TD pass, had he not expended so much energy whacking the defender en route) took the blame for Rypien's two exchange fumbles. And Rypien's best moment was snatched from him on a penalty, rescinding the picturesque 38-yard touchdown pass he floated to Art Monk with one Eagle swatting at his feet and another in full leap about to pounce on him. Rypien didn't prove that he could win a game against a good defense by himself -- this was hardly a confidence builder -- but neither did he make the Redskins lose it. He gave up eight earned runs, and his team got 12. He gets the W. Didn't it often happen that way for McMahon with the Bears?

There's the danger of missing the forest for the trees here. Rypien had his worst game of the season, and the Redskins still won. Big. Their special teams were sensational. The Redskins kicked off five times, and Philly never got the ball farther than its 16. The defense had five sacks and three interceptions. Charles Mann, Darrell Green and Wilber Marshall give them star players in each of the three strategic lines of defense. On offense, the Hogs bumped the vaunted Eagles backward. The Eagles bore the NFC's No. 1 defense. They'd allowed just 235 yards on the ground in four games. Earnest Byner and Gerald Riggs got 165 in 60 minutes.

Can they win the Super Bowl with Mark Rypien?

Playing like this, they can win the Super Bowl with Mark Spitz.

Oh, I'm sorry. Am I not being pessismistic enough? Fine, then let's convene another meeting of the Coach "Joe" Gibbs Worst Case Scenario String Quartet And Hindenburg Dancers. Hold off on those ice sculptures. Don't mail back the forms for "Kirby's And Herbie's Minneapolis Revue, Featuring Burnsey (As You've Never Seen Him Before) Singing 'The Best Of Prince.' "

Oh, I'm sorry. Am I not being pessismistic enough? Fine, then let's convene another meeting of the Coach "Joe" Gibbs Worst Case Scenario String Quartet And Hindenburg Dancers. Hold off on those ice sculptures. Don't mail back the forms for "Kirby's And Herbie's Minneapolis Revue, Featuring Burnsey (As You've Never Seen Him Before) Singing 'The Best Of Prince.' "

Remember, the Bears are next. They're coming off a rough loss, which makes them particularly dangerous (as if they're some kind of juggernaut, winning their first four games by a total of 14 points), and they're brutally tough at home (even though the Redskins own them there in the playoffs), and Harbaugh is much improved (Rypien in a blue jersey) and it's a short work week -- hmmm, a short work week, that's a good one.

Okay, okay, I realize it's Chicago, a fine, dependable team, and unless the conspiracists are right -- and Neal Anderson, Richard Dent and Mike Singletary all get whooping cough this weekend -- it's a Real Test. So get your oil checked and your tires filled.

The dogs bark.

But the bandwagon moves on.

© Copyright 1991 The Washington Post Company

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