Defenses Rest as Packers Beat Redskins, 48-47
By Gary Pomerantz
When it was over, Redskins kicker Mark Moseley was on his knees, in dejected spirits, and 55,255 were rocking in celebration in the stadium on Lombardi Avenue. That's because Moseley, who had already made four field goals tonight and has made 82 percent of his attempts from inside the 40 in his 10-year Redskins career, missed a 39-yarder with three seconds left.
"We kind of rushed it," said Moseley. "Maybe we should have taken more time. I just missed the kick."
But the onus for this defeat, which ended a five-game winning streak and 10-game road road win streak by the Redskins, is on the secondary. Never before has the absence of veterans Tony Peters and Jeris White seemed so great.
Tonight, quarterback Lynn Dickey drilled holes in the secondary, the Redskins' most vulnerable unit. In all, Dickey completed 22 of 30 for 387 yards and three touchdowns. Even running back Eddie Lee Ivery completed a 35-yard pass against a secondary that, quite simply, cost the Redskins victory.
"They hit home runs," said Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, "just like the Orioles . . . They played the Olympics early this year."
"We could have done a better job," said cornerback Vernon Dean. And then he walked away.
Some rather incredible numbers and numbness were produced in the highest scoring game in the history of Monday night football. Most impressively, there were 1,025 total net yards (a 552-473 advantage for the Redskins); 771 of those yards came by the pass. There were 56 first downs, 33 by the Redskins, and a staggering average of 9.1 yards per offensive play for the Packers.
Trailing, 47-45, Green Bay (4-3) started what proved to be the game-winning drive from its 36 with 2:42 left. The key play was a 56-yard pass play from Dickey to running back Gerry Ellis, who caught the ball near midfield in front of linebacker Monte Coleman and cornerback Darrell Green.
Green caught Ellis from behind, tackling him on the eight with 1:53 left. The Redskins defense then held firm. Green Bay called timeout to set up Jan Stenerud's 20-yard field goal with 54 seconds left.
The Redskins' offense, which functioned keenly all evening, then drove 55 yards in six frantic plays. Theismann, who completed 27 of 39 passes for 398 and two touchdowns, played it coy and shrewd. Three passes went to running back Joe Washington (who gained 80 yards on 16 carries). He played a majority of the second half because John Riggins, who gained 98 yards on 25 carries, was bothered by a nerve near his hip.
And just like in the season-opening 31-30 loss to Dallas when the secondary gave up game-reversing touchdown passes Moseley missed a field goal that could have hidden defensive atrocities.
Back and forth these offenses went tonight: Green Bay led, 24-20, at halftime. As expected, Dickey zeroed in on the secondary, using tight end Paul Coffman (six catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns) and wide receivers James Lofton (five for 96 yards) and John Jefferson (four for 50 yards).
So thoroughly was Coffman dominating strong safety Curtis Jordan that the Redskins replaced Jordan in the second half with Ken Coffey.
The game began strangely enough for the Redskins. They fumbled twice in the first 4:25, as many fumbles as they had in the first six weeks.
The first fumble came after Joe Washington caught a short screen at the Washington 25. He was hit there by linebacker Mike Douglass and fumbled. As most Redskins stood, seemingly stunned, Douglass picked up the ball and ran 22 yards for a touchdown, giving Green Bay a 7-0 lead just 1:07 into the game.
The Redskins were more fortunate on the next fumble. As expected, the Redskins continually ran Riggins (17 carries for 67 yards in the first half). When Riggins barrelled up the middle from the three on the Redskins' second possession, he fumbled. But tight end Clint Didier recovered in an end zone pileup, tying the score at 7 with 10:35 left in the first quarter.
Dickey kept taking advantage of his receivers. After Stenerud and Moseley made first-quarter field goals, Dickey threw a 36-yard scoring pass to Coffman giving Green Bay a 17-10 lead early in the second quarter. Coffman beat Jordan on the play.
After Riggins ran one yard for a touchdown (his 10th consecutive game with a rushing touchdown), tying the score at 17 with 11 minutes left in the half, Dickey again threw to Coffman for a nine-yard touchdown. Once again, Jordan was a step behind.
The Green Bay lead was 24-17. Moseley's 28-yard field goal two seconds before the half brought brought the Redskins within 24-20. Too many time tonight, though, the Redskins' offense bogged down and settled for field goals. In the end, that proved costly for Washington, which trails Dallas (7-0) by two games in the NFC East.
The Redskins received tremendous production from Washington in the second half. He caught two touchdown passes, and his six-yard scoring reception brought the Redskins within 31-30 with 5:25 left in the third quarter.
Yet the way this game without defense was going, after each touchdown, it was nearly certain another was soon to follow.
To open the third quarter, the Packers had a five-play, 82-yard scoring drive that lasted just 42 seconds. Ellis finished it with a 24-yard touchdown run, all but shocking the Redskins who, quite naturally, expected another pass.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Packers had a three-play, 39-yard drive that lasted 15 seconds. This drive followed a 57-yard kickoff return by Harlan Huckleby (to the 39) and ended with tight end Gary Lewis running two yards untouched on a reverse. This gave Green Bay a 38-33 lead with 13:45 left to play.
The Redskins retaliated. Riggins, taking off his parka on the sideline for several key short-yardage plays, ran one yard for the touchdown that gave the Redskins a 40-38 lead with 9:57 left. Lambeau Field turned quiet.
Until Dickey, on third and 13 from the Washington 31, threw a pass to fullback Mike Meade, who veered to the left past Dean at the 23.
Meade sprinted down the left side. As free safety Mark Murphy dove for Meade near the two, Meade leaped over him and into the end zone. The 31-yard pass play gave Green Bay a 45-40 lead with 7:23 left.
The offensive hysteria continued: Theismann led the Redskins to a touchdown, throwing to Washington for that five-yard touchdown pass. Score: Redskins, 47-45, with 2:50 remaining.
Then Stenerud kicked the 20-yarder. And Moseley missed a 39-yarder with three seconds left.
And you thought the Redskins' 37-35 victory over the Los Angeles Raiders two weeks ago was one of a kind?
"You almost get dizzy watching a game like that," Riggins said. "You eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you."