Are the Redskins jinxed in New Jersey?
"It's no jinx when I play a bad game and let them convert crucial third-down situations," Redskin linebacker Pete Wysocki said. "It's no jinx when everybody's playing hard. We had scoring opportunities.
"It sure wouldn't have been a jinx if I'd shut off one of those short-yardage situations in the fourth quarter. That was just totally Pete Wysocki. There's no such thing as a jinx in football.
"Am I saying I'm willing to take full blame for the loss? Well, I sure contributed my share. I feel bad about it. It's the worst game I've played since I've been starting."
Four times in the touchdown drive that put the Giants ahead, 14-6, in the fourth quarter, New York faced third and short yardage. Each time, Billy Taylor ran left, at end Coy Bacon and at Wysocki. Each time he made a first down, ripping off gains of 4, 12, 4 and 27 yards.
The 27-yarder, on third and five, brought the ball to the Washington one. The Redskins were in a nickel defense and had called a blitz.
"I'm supposed to go outside. The linebacker will fill inside," said Bacon. "I had outside containment."
That left the primary tackling up to Wysocki.
"They were running hard, too," he said. "I don't often get run over and I got ran over. I can't remember the last time somebody ran over me. But they did. It's ridiculous.I just felt like, 'What was I doing?'
"Sometimes I was too agressive, sometimes not aggressive enough, I just didn't have the right rhythm. That sounds funny, but it's true. I just couldn't seem to deliver the right shot to hold him right there until I got help. I couldn't get my arms around him. It was just basic football techniques."
Ironically Wysocki considers short-yardage situations one of his strengths.
"Give them a little credit. We do some things on (modifying the) defense and they block a little bit differently. They were running hard.
"It's something I've got to get ready for the next time I play. All I've done (today) is invite that test again. It's normally what happens, so I expect to see that same type of game plan again. But I think I should be able to shore things up."
These young, restless Giants did something against the Redskins today that the Cowboys and Cardinals couldn't in the past two weeks. They held on to the football, committing only one turnover, on a Wysocki interception with 6:31 left in the third quarter. It was the last pass the Giants threw all day.
In the past two weeks, the Redskin defense came up with nine turnovers, five against Dallas.
"We're not a special team and just have to show up," said Wysocki. "Everybody's got to do their part. We're not a great team. We've got to play team defense. No one link has to be stronger than the other. You just have to have all the strengths the same and you'll come out all right. Well, today I was the weak link."
Bacon said he could sense a team letdown from the Cowboy game.
"It's up to us to keep ourselves up every week," he said. If the guys don't do it, we'll get a game like this, every time.
"We're better than the Giants, no doubt in my mind. They wanted to quit. But we helped them out. We said, 'Well, we don't want to win it.' They went on and took it.
"They played ball control and didn't make mistakes. They weren't playing agressive ball. They didn't want to come out and just throw it. They didn't want to do anything like that. We made mistakes and they took advantage of it."
So, the Giants played ultraconservative the final 21 1/2 minutes. "When you're having success," said Redskin safety Mark Murphy, "there's no reason to change."
If the Redskin offense seemed conservative the whole day, it seemed logical, since that was the Redskin game plan, one team source said.
"We wanted to control the ball and not make mistakes," one Redskin said. "They were playing a young quarterback. We didn't want to give them any breaks, nothing to get them fired up, and keep their crowd quiet. Eventually, we figured, they would lose, rather than us win, as it's happened in the past."
But it was the Redskins who made the mistakes.
And at the end of this day, Wysocki, the man who said he made his share of mistakes, saw a familiar face in the quiet Redskin locker room. It belonged to Ralph Hawkins, former Redskin defensive assistant, now the Giants' defensive coordinator.
"How you doing?" Hawkins asked.
"I was doing real good except on third and short," Wysocki replied. "I was doing real good."
"I wasn't you or anything," Hawkins volunteered. "It was just the way they ran."
"Oh," Wysocki replied, "I know that's the way it goes."