Joe Theismann learned for sure he would start yesterday's game at quarterback for the Redskins when everyone else at Schaefer Stadium heard about it: at the player introductions.

"No one told me anything, I just assumed I would start," said Theismann.

"I felt I played well in the preseason," Theismann continued. "I did everything they wanted me to do and I felt I deserved to be the starting quarterback.

"I tried to put the last four years out of my mind.

"I always felt that if a coach believes in you and everybody knows it's your job, you can perform accordingly. Last year I never knew if I had his (former Redskin Coach George Allen) confidence. I always had the feeling I could be yanked at any time.I don't feel like that anymore.

"I believe I have the confidence of this coaching staff. The way you get it is to perform. They told me the opportunity was there for me to win the job. That's all I ever asked."

While Theismann was bubbling with enthusiasm, Patriot quarterback Steve Grogan was calmly putting some chewing tobacco in his mouth, putting on his jeans and saying he didn't think he played that badly, despite completing only 12 of 31 passes and having two intercepted.

He was seven of 12 for two touchdowns in the second half, and appeared to have pulled out a victory until Brad Dusek picked up Horace Ivory's fumble and ran for the Redskin victory.

"They (the Redskins) just did a heckuva job at stopping us," Grogan said. "They just seemed to know what we were going to do before we did it. I don't know how, but they did.

"I don't think we took them too lightly. I think the real difference was thay they took us very seriously. They played a lot better than we had seen them play on film.They thought they had something to prove and they went out and played hard."

Both New England touchdowns were off play-action passes.

"We got the running game going in the second half and that set up the touchdown passes," Grogan said. "They were double covering to the strong side and their backs were playing tight. That is tought to throw into.

"Both touchdowns were off the same play, just to different receivers."

Harold Jackson, who the Patriots acquired after Darryl Stingley's neck was broken in a preseason game, caught seven passes for 124 yards and a touchdown of 45 yards.

The first score, to Stanley Morgan, was on a post pattern.

"Jake Scott rolled up on me and left Stanley to go one on one with the cornerback," Jackson said. "On the one to me, Scott looked back for Stanley and I got open underneath."

Morgan caught his pass in the end zone, Jackson his over the middle 25 yards out.

While Gorgan was lauding the Redskins' defense, Patriot cornerback Raymond Clayborn was rapping Washington's offense.

"They didn't give us much trouble," he said. "They got that one long pass on the first play and didn't do much else after that."

"Obviously this is a very disappointing defeat," New England Coach Chuck Fairbanks said. "Our passing game was very poor. Steve was not throwing well, receivers weren't holding onto the ball and there wasn't good pass blocking.

"It's a shame that Horace Ivory fumbled the ball when he did, but I don't fault him. It was a missed block that caused him to get confronted much sooner than he expected to."

New England was the only team to get through the preseason undefeated and did it so easily that critics started touting the Patriots as a Super Bowl team.

"This is a disappointing way to start a season," Fairbanks added. "There have been a lot of nice things said about this team and how great it is and everything. But I told them before the game that we haven't won a thing yet. "I guess I can tell them the same thing next week."

If there was one Redskin who earned a lot of respect from the Patriots, it was defensive end Coy Bacon. Bacon had two sacks and harassed Grogan all day.

"I tried to adjust and do everything I could to contain him," Patriot tackle Leon Gray said. "But Coy is too tough. His pressure threw a lot of what we tried to do off.

"They (the Redskins) were just a tough team."