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  Fortunes Turn Over With Interceptions, Recovery, 35-17

By Anthony Cotton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 10, 1988; Page D8

IRVING, TEX., OCT. 9 -- The Washington Redskins' disappointing 2-3 record entering today's game against the Dallas Cowboys was due in large part to a tendency to give up big plays but make very few. The team's minus-eight turnover ratio entering the game was next to last in the NFC, tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That ratio improved substantially in Washington's 35-17 victory at Texas Stadium. After a five-week stretch in which opponents scored 48 points from 12 Redskins' miscues, Washington came up with five turnovers -- four on interceptions -- and capitalized to the tune of 21 points.

Monte Coleman, Wilber Marshall, Alvin Walton and Todd Bowles grabbed interceptions and Terry Orr recovered a fumble -- the bounty coming after the team scored seven points from four takeaways in the opening five weeks.

"It was nice going into the fourth quarter with a cushion and not worrying about coming from behind or winning by a point," said defensive tackle Dean Hamel, who played a major role in the second-quarter spurt when Washington forced a pair of turnovers and scored two touchdowns in just more than a minute of play.

The Redskins already led, 14-10, (their second touchdown was set up by Coleman's interception) when strong safety Walton picked off a Steve Pelluer pass and returned it 29 yards to the Dallas 26. The interception was the first of the season by a Redskins defensive back; three plays later, Kelvin Bryant scored on a nine-yard run with Chip Lohmiller's extra point giving Washington a 21-10 lead.

Lohmiller then kicked off to Dallas' Kelvin Martin, who went 13 yards before he was met by Hamel. The ball popped loose on impact and Orr recovered at the Cowboys 23. Bryant gained four yards on first down; on second, Mark Rypien dropped back to pass. His receivers were covered but there was a gaping hole in the middle of the field. Although he didn't set any land-speed records, the quarterback went the distance for another touchdown.

"We made some plays today," said Coleman. "The last couple of weeks, speaking defensively, we haven't been. Any time you give our offense the ball across the 50 and give them a short distance to go, most of the time they're going to come out with points on the board."

There was more than enough cushion for the Redskins' defense, which limited Dallas to 60 yards rushing (51 by Herschel Walker) and quelled and hopes of a rally with the last two interceptions.

One of them, by Marshall, stopped one of the Cowboys' best drives of the day. Moving from their 27-yard line, Dallas faced a third and goal at the Washington 7. Pelluer attempted to hit split end Ray Alexander in the end zone, but threw directly at Marshall, who carried the return 43 yards.

By the end of the day, it didn't matter that Washington had been penalized seven times for 65 yards, or that Lohmiller had missed another field goal attempt, a 40-yarder one play after a successful 35-yard kick was negated by a delay of game penalty.

"I think we had more breaks in this game today than all the others put together," Coach Joe Gibbs said.

Indeed, Hamel confessed that he was faked out by Martin on the kickoff return. "He made a real good move on me," said Hamel, "I just said, 'I ain't gonna make the tackle, let me see if I can get the ball.' "

The way things went for the Redskins during the opening five weeks of the season, Hamel probably would have missed the ball, opening the way for a long return.

That's not to say that the chances weren't there, only that Washington was previously unable to take advantage of them. Walton, for example, had dropped at least three catchable balls earlier this season.

"We just made the plays today as opposed to yesterday when we didn't," said cornerback Darrell Green. "Every week we were trying -- no one was going out there trying to not make interceptions."

"Coaches say a lot of things {about not making big plays} and you have to take that. All you can do is play and do your best, and if they want to put you off the team then they'll put you off the team. We made the plays today, and hopefully we will next week and the week after that and the week after that."


Monte Coleman intercepted a Steve Pelluer pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown, but Darryl Grant was called for an illegal block on the play and Washington took over at the Dallas 36. The turnover led to a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mark Rypien to Kelvin Bryant and a 14-7 Washington lead with 13:00 left in the period.


Alvin Walton intercepted a Pelluer pass and returned it 29 yards to the Dallas 26. Turnover led to Kelvin Bryant's nine-yard touchdown run and a 21-10 Washington lead with 2:54 left in the second period.


On the kickoff after the Bryant touchdown, Dallas return man Kelvin Martin fumbled after a 13-yard return. Terry Orr recovered for the Redskins at the Dallas 23. Turnover led to Rypien's 19-yard touchdown run for a 28-10 Washington lead with 1:53 left in the period.


On third and goal at the Washington 7, Wilber Marshall intercepted a Pelluer pass in the end zone and returned the ball 43 yards. Turnover did not result in Redskins points.


Todd Bowles intercepted a Danny White pass and returned it 20 yards to the Dallas 46. Redskins, leading by 35-17, ran out the clock.

© Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company

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