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  Sounds So Sweet, Rides So Smooth

By Tony Kornheiser
Washington Post Columnist
Tuesday, October 29, 1991; Page E01

Tony Kornheiser EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Vroooom, vroooom. After coughing and wheezing through a fitful first half where the engine wouldn't turn over at all, The Bandwagon is cruising smoothly again, slicing through the Jersey marsh, leaving the former New York Giants in the rear view mirror.

"How's the Bandwagon?" Jeff Bostic asked, grinning as he cut the tape from his ankles just after the game ended. "Were you getting ready to unhitch it?"

Unhitch it?

Why? Because the former New York Giants had outscored the Redskins 13-0 in the first half? Because they had outgained them 125-1 in the first quarter -- yes, 125-1, but it was a lovely 1; I believe Earnest Byner accounted for it, falling briefly forward as the entire Giants defense pounded him into the turf like a fencepost? Because at the half the Redskins were so dead, it seemed like Jimmy Hoffa had left his field-level box in -- and I do mean in -- the end zone to draw up their game plan?

Bostic continued grinning.

"What was the score at the end of the game?" he asked.

Dressing next to him, legendary wide receiver Russ "The Flea" Grimm smiled. "There's been lots of times we've come up here and the yardage went our way -- but the scoreboard went their way."

No Parcells. No Simms. No way.

Not to put too fine a point on what happened to the former New York Giants in the second half, but does the phrase "crushed like bone meal" mean anything to you? The Redskins went on a 22-snap drive and a 15-snap drive in the second half. Riff doesn't snap that long at the beginning of "West Side Story." This is not simply holding the ball, this is framing and mounting it. They made nine straight third-down conversions in those drives. What was L.T. doing out there, looking for his pitching wedge?

The Bandwagon doesn't want to underestimate the importance of this victory. Not to denigrate a 7-0 start, but had the Redskins lost to the Giants, it would have been a real momentum killer. "Hello AAA, this is The Bandwagon. We're stuck on the Jersey Turnpike and the wheels just came off!"

"This game was huge psychologically," said Mark Schlereth. "We're real confident, and we know that we're a good team. But a loss to them, and we'd have been asking ourselves, 'Man, what does it take to beat these guys?'" (Or as Coach "Joe" Gibbs said, "We need to win them all, but we needed, needed, needed to win this one.")

And so in all humility -- and with our fondest hope that Maurice "Mr. Crosscheck" Carthon thinks pushing Matt Millen in the back was worth it -- let us review the essentials:

Most points (still).

Most shutouts (still).

Best plus-minus, 153. Mario Lemieux should live so long.

Undefeated (still). Are you paying attention, Zonk?

(World Series Update: For those of you who couldn't find Channel 20 without installing a special UHF antenna, the Series has been extended through November to accommodate the crush of people wanting to see more of Lonnie "Adventures In Fielding And Base Running" Smith. Smith, who has been named by the Association Of Decoy Carvers as "Dead Duck Of 1991," will try to become the first man to hit a home run into the left field stands and still be thrown out at the plate.)

The Bandwagon is happy to welcome Terry Bradshaw, who rated the Redskins No. 1 in the NFL on CBS's Sunday pregame show. (Terry is one of the few people in America with less hair than I; there's always room on The Bandwagon for the un-haired, except Alan Simpson.) The Bandwagon also extends sincere invitations to New Orleans Saints fans, who saw "Cha-Ching" turn into "Cha-Choke" against the Bears, and appreciates how hard it is for Mike "That Toddlin' Town" Wilbon to hang with us now that Da Bears have won one in a row.

Excuse me, Tony. It's bad enough we have to put up with this stupid column week after week, but you didn't answer Jeff Bostic's question. Were you getting ready to unhitch The Bandwagon?

Moi?

Vous.

What? What? I'm sorry, There's a terrible static on my italic keys. I'm losing you. Hello? Hello?

Detractors, of course, will surely claim that Sunday's victory against the former New York Giants was tainted by the fact that Matt Bahr, Reyna Thompson and Erik Howard didn't play. (Clipboard-toting hosehead Phil Simms could have played, but a brilliant strategic move by Ray "Spy Patrol" Handley kept him on the sideline -- even though Simms had beaten the Redskins 47 straight times.) Oh, give it a rest already. Washington played without Alvin Walton and Markus Koch. People get hurt in the NFL. If you don't like it, use your No. 1 pick to draft a doctor.

Before we convene this week's meeting of the Coach "Joe" Gibbs Inevitable Psychological Letdown After Such A Big Win Orchestra, featuring Warren Moon's Run And Shoot Marimba Section, let's spend a moment considering this recent addition to the gala Super Bowl tour: Tom Kelly's House Of Rocket Science. This brand new baseball museum in downtown Minneapolis features a photo exhibit of Kelly pondering a crossed-out lineup card, wondering how he managed to use all 24 players by the bottom of the fourth, and would Tony Oliva clear waivers if Gene Larkin popped up? The highlight of the museum is a statue of Charlie Leibrandt accompanied by the actual tape recording of Leibrandt's instructions to the cabbie who drove him from the Metrodome immediately after Game 6, "Take me as far as you can on a tankful of gas, then drop me in the river."

This leaves us only room for one last riposte to The Detractors. You wanted to know what would happen when a big defensive team smothered Earnest Byner and forced Mark Rypien to, as they say, come up large in the goal.

Ricky Ervins happened for one. And Rypien hit Gary Clark for two.

Admittedly, the Jersey trip was rugged. The Bandwagon needs an oil change. If you see Cris Dishman, tell him to bring overalls.

© Copyright 1991 The Washington Post Company

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