Redskin defenders rearranged their minds, not their strategy, at halftime yesterday.
"I think everybody was more concerned about making big plays instead of carrying out his responsibility," said strong safety Tony Peters, starting in place of injured Ken Houston. "Wewere trying to outthink them and it wasn't working. We do our job and everything falls into place."
Indeed it did in the second half when the Redskins rallied from 21-7 and won going away, 38-21.
Redskin defenders cited three basic reasons for the turnaround.
Every man carried out the assignments, as Peters did not do on the 43-yard touchdown past to Aundra Thompson at the end of the first half.
the Redskins held the Packers to seven rushing yards the second half, after a first half in which Green Bay rushed for 89 yards and caused the Redskin defense all kinds of problems with big-gain runs on first down. In the second half, the Packers gained a net three yards on nine first down plays.
The offense scored on the first possession of the second half.
"That was the best thing that could have happened to us," said free safety Mark Murphy. "It got the whole team going, it got the fans going and from then on..."
"It was a great thing to feel that energy on the sidelines." said linebacker Pete Wysocki, "The offense went "swooooooosh.' They went crazy. It was beautiful. And the defense -- we were pumped up in the first half, but the second half -- wow."
Coach Jack Pardee raised his voice to the defense at halftime, but not as harshly as he did to the offense.
Defensive tackle Dave Butz recalled Pardee's speech almost word for word:
"He said, "There's no secret play Ican write up on the board that they're beating us on or that I can show you that will help us win. All you've got to do is play the defenses the way they're supposed to be and execute and get after these people. Don't sit back and let them come to you. We have to go out and take it away from them.'"
The players then talked among themselves, Wysocki said.
"We just had to move to another levelof emotion ... sometimes you think you're excited and sometimes you really are excited," Wysocki said,
"We just looked around and everybody rededicated themselves. That's the kind of thing we have to have -- to be down and come back just does wonders for the confidence of your football team.
"We recognized how important this game was this week. There's no doubt about it. If we don't win this game, we start getting the Christmas tree ornaments in order."
Pardee said Washington's first half defensive problems were complicated by the new alignment in the club's nickel defense, Peters having become the starting strong safety. But Pardee believes tackling and blocking win football games, not talking.
Typical of the second-half agressiveness was the submarine tackle that Murphy inflicted on Packer wide receiver James Lofton, separating him from the hall and sending the Packers' best deep threat limping off. The score at that time was 21-14, Green Bay.
"He didn't do much after that," Murphy said.
Peters was strong against the run in the second half. As strong safety, he is the primary "force man" against runs.
"The first half was a total gift," Peters said. "We were sleep walking or something...We were on a vacation that second period. I was off on a trip or something."
Peters was talking about the touchdown pass Lynn Dickey threw to Thompson with 16 seconds left in the half. The Redskins double-covered Thompson, Lemar Parrish to the outside, Peters to the inside.
Peters recalled discussing the defense with Parrish as the Packers lined up for the snap. Then, all of a sudden, Peters said, he was thinking about making an interception and followed Dickey's eyes instead of his man.
"By the time I looked back at the receiver, he was gone. I said, 'Oh, , my. What am I doing?'"
Everyone agreed stopping the run on first down allowed the Redskins to unleash a better pass rush and to use their strength -- the nickel.
Coy Bacon said the key was the offense scoring after the second-half kickoff.
"The whole turning point," he said "Probably shocked those kids over there, probably shocked them to death."
And Bacon started singing: Ain't no stopping us now."