New York Giant Coach Ray Perkins walked out of his RFK Stadium dressing room shortly after midnight this morning and looked at the reporters waiting down the hall for him.
He turned around and walked back into the room.
When Perkins emerged again a couple of minutes later he was still in no mood to talk about his team's embarassing 27-0 loss to the Redskins last night.
He sat on a stool, dragged on a cigarette and stared at the floor.
"An assessment of the game, Coach?" someone said.
"That's what I'm trying to come up with," Perkins replied, still staring at the floor.
Finally, he spoke. "We just made too many mistakes. We didn't play smart football in two or three spots."
Perkins is 0-3 as an NFL coach but he has already mastered the art of understatement. Not only did his team make mistakes -- eight penalties for 72 yards -- it made those mistakes at the worst possible moments.
The two most crucial errors were running-into-the-kicker penalties, both in the Redskin drive for the second touchdown that gave them a 17-0 lead at halftime.
The first was called on linebacker Brian Kelley for running into punter Mike Bragg when the Redskins had fourth and 12 on their own 36 with 4:13 left. The second came with 13 seconds left in the half when Ray Rhodes was called for contacting Mark Moseley as he missed a 25-yard field-goal attempt.
"I got blocked into him and I got to him. I just grabbed his shoulders, sort of braced him so he wouldn't go down," Rhodes said. "I barely touched him. The ref (Ben Dreith) said I roughed him. It was a bad call."
Kelly, too, claimed his roughing call was incorrect.
"I just brushed him," the eight-year veteran said. "I hit him, but not hard. He did a really good acting job, though."
None of the Giants were blaming either call for the loss, however.
"It didn't hurt us," Rhodes said. "we had all of halftime to regroup. We just didn't do it."
The mood in the Giant dressing room was one of quiet resignation. No helmets were thrown, no one buried his head in his hands. Players just moved quietly about dressing and casting hard looks at the intruding press.
"No, I'm not disgusted," offensive guard Doug Van Horn said. "I don't get paid to get disgusted, I get paid to play football. I'm a professional. This is a loss like any other loss, no better, no worse."
If the players weren't disgusted, Perkins appeared to be discouraged at the very least. His team has posted 35 points in three games and his offense gave the Redskins their first touchdown when quarterback Joe Pisarcik threw a swing pass right into the grasp of defensive end Karl Lorch, who recovered from shock quickly enough to lumber 31 yards for an easy score.
"I made a bad play and he made a good play, that's all," Pisarcik said with a shrug. "What more can you say?"
Perkins called it "a cheap touchdown."
"It hurt us but so did our third-down pass protection," he added. "No I didn't have any thoughts about taking Joe out. Once he got hit and I got Randy (Dean) warming up. But that was the only time."
Asked how much the two calls for running into the kicker hurt his team, Perkins answered, "I don't think there's any way to measure that."
He stubbed out his cigarette.
In addition to their general ineptitude the Giants called a very strange timeout -- with 9:27 left in the third quarter and the Redskins on the New York 47.
"I called it," said defensive captain Harry Carson, one of the few Giants who did any consistent hitting all night. "It was still only 17-0, we weren't out of the game yet and they were driving.
"I just wanted all of us to take a minute and think about things, try and stop them and let us get back together. The offense calls timeouts when it's in trouble, why shouldn't the defense?"
It didn't help. The Redskins continued the drive to a touchdown and a 24-0 lead.
Left unsaid, among the players shuffling about was the frustration the Giant defenders felt watching their offense not only fail to score points, but last night, give points up. But none would admit it, not even Kelley, who was called for his second personal foul on the game's most vicious play, a kick in the face at Benny Malone.
"He knows what he did," Kelley said. "The ref always catches the second hit. I blew my cool, yes, but it wasn't because I was frustrated with the offense."
"We're all in this together," Carson added, "offense, defense, everyone."
This, at the moment, is unfortunate for all: offense, defense, everyone.