"Not guilty," said Redskin tackle George Starke.
"Justice," said New Orleans defensive end Elois Grooms. "He had been holding me from play one."
They were recalling the holding call by the back judge, Jimmy Rosser, against Starke when the Redskins had first and goal on the two-yard line with two minutes to play in yesterday's 14-10 Washington loss at RFK Stadium.
"I saw the flag thrown," Starke said in the quiet, quickly deserted Redskin locker room. "I didn't think it was on me. I don't know why they called me for holding. I wasn't holding. I did everything I was supposed to do on that play.
"I took my man inside and I fell on top of him," he said, describing his blocking assignment on Benny Malone's dive play that would have moved the ball to within a foot to the goal line. "It was very weird. I didn't do anything. I didn't use my arms or anything.
"I wish the officials had press conferences after the game so they could explain it."
Defensive tackle Dave Butz said he had not seen a holding call on a running play so close to the end zone in his seven years in the National Football League.
"It was either one of the most flagrant things they (the officials) have ever seen," Butz said, "or else they were warned ahead of time. Someone must have warned them to look for it."
That someone was Grooms.
"Early in the game, I guess on about their second possession, I began complaining to the officials that he was holding and they were missing it.
"I don't usually do that but he plays that way and I had to protect myself.
I kept complaining and asking them to watch and I guess it finally paid off. He didn't hold me any more blatantly on the one they called."
The officials had left the stadium by the time a request was made to have a pool reporter speak to Rosser, the procedure that must be followed to get postgame comments by the officiating crew.
Starke, a seven-year veteran from Columbia whose number was frequently called for holding two seasons ago, said it was his first holding penalty this season.
"Odd place to get one," he said.
Starke also raised the possibility that perhaps the official erred in dropping his flag, then had to come up with a call.
"I wasn't (holding)," said right guard Jeff Williams. "(Center Bob) Kuziel wasn't holding. I was looking at him. I don't see how he (Starke) could be holding.Hell, down at the goal line everybody's always holding.
"It was just a bush call."
"How many times are you going to get called for holding on the two-yard line?" asked tight end Jean Fugett. "That's the kind of call you usually get when you're playing on the road. When everybodys bunched up in there, I don't know how you can see it."
It was the end of a frustrating day for the Redskin offensive line which had yielded only 10 quarterback sacks in the previous eight games. The Saints, who went into the game yesterday with 15 sacks and 185 points yielded, got seven.
The Saints play the flex defense, the only other team besides Dallas to use it as a basic defense. Ray Callahan, Washington's offensive line coach, said that played havoc with the Redskin blocking assignments because of different fronts the Saints showed.
The players saw it differently.
"They don't play the flex very well," said Starke. "People come up with all kinds of cliches. What can I say? We didn't play very well."
"What it was," said Williams, "was a breakdown in communications. Sometimes on stunts we're supposed to be in zone-blocking and sometimes man to man. A lot of times when we were supposed to be zone-blocking we were man to man, and vice versa. Sometimes two of us blocked the same man and that left one open.
"It was a few mental mistakes going the wrong way."