"The officials have a very wary eye at the most inopportun time," Redskin offensive coordnator Charlie Waller said yesterday. "We're not holding any more (than before); they're just calling it more."
Three players - defensive signal caller Ken Houston, special teams captain Rusty Tillman and offensive tackle George Starke - also criticized the officiating following the 10-6 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at RFK Stadium.
The Rdskins had a safety, a touch-down and a blocked field goal nullified by penalties. Washington has been called for holding seven times and penalized 199 yards in the first two games. At that rate, the Redskins would break the one-season penalty record (868 yards in 1976) under coach George Allen by 525 yards.
"Few people realize we very easily could have lost," said Tillman. "You're very grateful to win. I probably shouldn't say this: The officiating, it just gets worse by the week. It's unbelievable. I don't imagine how you could block the ball (on an attempted field goal), have them lose 50 yards and then not even get possession."
The Falcons kept possession after Ron McDole blocked a Nick Mike-Mayer field goal. Mike-Mayer finally picked up the ball and was trakled at the Falcon 28 by Houston. But a personal foul was called on Houston for hitting Mike-Mayer with his forearm.
"That's the way I tackle. I was trying to hit him hard and take a good shot." Houston said. "It wasn't a cheap shot: cheap shots have been overplayed since that incident in Oakland. In a game as vicious as football is, theses things happen.
"I wouldn't go out and take a cheap shot at the guy. It was a good play. It's happened to me before. It's an instinctive thing. I had a chance to hit him and knock the ball loose, and that's all I tried to do . . . the league is getting so hard on personal fouls, you don't know what to do, especially a guy with my style. I am a heavy hitter, but I play cleanly."
The most interesting matchup on the line of scrimmage was betwen Washington tackle George Starke and Atlanta defensive end Claude Humphrey. Starke was called for holding three times, once on the play when quarterback Billy Kilmer passed to tight end Jean Fugett, who lateraled to running back John Riggins for what would have been a 51-yard touchdown.
Humphrey was called for one personal foul against Starke, on a fourth-quarter head slap.
"What it comes down to clearly is that they (the officials) balance things out," Starke said. "They give one to one team and one to the other. Claude and I were the most interesting battle to watch."
Starke referred to the head-slap penalty called when, Starke said. Humphrey hit him in the face mask with the palm of his hand.
"But that's his rush," Starke said. "But it's not like he just started to do that in the fourth quarter. Why didn't they call it the first three quarters. I can't worry about what I can't control. The point is, the officiating should be consistent.
"Certainly I've held, everybody in the league holds. If you 're in a tumble of people, it's not like you're keeping your arms to your chest. There is a lot of it open to interpretation."
Meanwhile, Atlanta quarterback Scott Hunter and coach Leenman Bennett left themselves open to some second-guessing. One time Hunter went for a touchdown instead of a more possible first down with a third-down pass late in the fourth quarter. Another item of contention was the Falcons' conservative game plan.
The Hunter pass for Wally Francis preceded the Falcon field goal that made it 10-6 with 10:25 to play.
"You saw it better from the press box than I did from the field," said Hunter. "I threw it to Wally; Pat Fischer made a good play. The running back (Woody Thompson) was open, and I amde a mistake obviously. I should have thorwn it to the running back."
I was open in the flat," Thompson confirmed. "But it's difficult for the quarterback to see everything at one time."
It appeared the Falcons could pass all day on the Redskins. Alfred Jenkins, who caught seven passes for 152 yards, explained that the key was Hunter's eye fakes on jake Scott in the zone defense.
"Scott (Hunter) looks the safety off toward theother side. Once I get behind the cornerback, all we need is that split second. The quarterback has a lot to do with throwing the pass, just more than throwing it," Jenkins said.
"That's why Kilmer completes a lot of passes," said an Atlanta team official standing nearby.
"Exactly," said Jenkins, nodding his head.
So why didn't Atlanta pass more earlier?
"We're trying to build a winner," said Hunter, and in building a winner, we're not going to make mistakes and put the defense in the hole."
Although the Falcons beat Los Angeles a week ago in their opener. Bennett said the Falcons are not yet good enough to control an entire game.
"We are conservative," Bennett said. "If we can keep the clock running and stay close, we've gota chance to win it. And that's what we had today."