The first two times the Cincinnati Bengals got the ball yesterday, they marched down the field and scored.
"I thought we might score 50," running back Pete Johnson said.
The Bengals did not score again. Instead, the "Redskin defense, especially the defensive line, turned tiger the second half and Washington walked away with a 28-14 win.
The Redskin defense finished the day with six sacks of quarterback Ken anderson, 3 1/2 by 36-year-old pass-rushing specialist Coy Bacon, a former Bengal. The reason for the revival of the Redskin rush, according to players in both locker rooms, was the disappearnace of the Cincinnati running game the second half.
"When they got behind they changed their game plan." Bacon said "They stopped mixing their plays up. We knew the pass was coming and we just lined up and went after them."
The most obvious Bengal victim was left tackle Mike Wilson, a second year pro, who simply could not handle Bacon's outside rush in the fourth quarter.
"He just kept getting me on the outside," Wilson said as he stretched out in front of his locker. "I'd seen him on film and I knew he was still a good pass rusher, but I didn't expect him to be as quick as he was.
"The whole fourth quarter we were behind and they knew we weren't going to run the dang ball. It was frustrating because I knew he (Bacon) was just going to lay back his ears and come. He was just whippin' on me at the end."
Bacon said he was surprised that the Cincinnati coaches didn't get Wilson some help in the form of a doubleteam.
"I'm killing the guy and they didn't give him no help," Bacon said. "I was doing what I wanted to do on him. He's a strong kid, but he needs work on his pass rush. He couldn't backpedal fast enough."
When the Bengals did give Anderson time to throw, he was able to pass effectively, completing 20 of 36 passes for 276 yards.
"Their cornerbacks play real deep," Anderson said. "They give you a lot of room in the middle. We thought we could throw underneath them and I thought we did a good job of it most of the day.
"But when you're behind and throwing on every down, it's hard to get enough time. It changes the game when you're not running the ball well."
Some of the Redskins wondered out loud why the Bengals had eschewed their running game as quickly as they did, down by just one touchdown.
"Cincinnati has always played like that," Bacon said. "They think they have to keep putting the ball up to score. You know in the second half if they're behind they're going to throw. They always have."
Cincinnati Coach Homer Rice, an unlikely survivor when this 3-12 season is over, said he used the pass in the second half largely because he lacked confidence in his defense.
"I thought we needed points fast," he said. "That's why I went for the fourth down on the 10-yard line with seven minutes still left. I just wasn't sure if our defense would get the ball back for us or is they'd keep them from scoring again.
"We certainly didn't stop them in the first half The Washington offense just moved up and down the field. The second half I thought the defense did much better. It kept us in the game. Our offense just couldn't get the ball back into the end zone."
The entire Washington defense benefited from the lack of versatility in Cincinnati's second-half offense.
"When they went away from the run it made things easier for all of us. not just the line," strong safety Mark Murphy said. "In the secondary, we knew they weren't going to run almost the whole fourth quarter.
"That meant we could ignore our run keys and just worry about their receivers. And with the pass rush, coming on, we didn't have to stay with guys as long.
"We knew coming in, with receivers like Issac Curtis, we were going to have to have a good pass rush to beat them. You just can't give a guy like Curtis time because he's going to get open. That's why you have to get the good rush. The second half, we got it."
Double-teamed all day, Curtis still caught four passes for 62 yards. Cincinnati's tight ends, Don Bass and Dan Ross, and wide receiver Pat McInally were open most of the day, catching 11 passes between them almost all over the middle underneath the secondary.
"Issac's double valuable because he's such a great decoy," Anderson said, "A lot of times I just looked towards him and that would take two guys out of the play, and then I'd throw to someone else."
But the bottom line in the fourth quarter was that Anderson did not get the time he needed to pick the secondary apart. Still, it was hard to tell the two locker rooms apart when it was all over. The Redskins were relaxed and seemed happy. So did the Bengals.
"We played a pretty good football game," Anderson said, smiling for the television cameras.
"One week to go, said Archie Griffin, who had 68 yards rushing and four catches for another 68 yards and one touchdown. He also smiled for the TV cameras.
The Redskins were smiling at the other end of the hall too, but for different reasons.
"We did what we had to do," Bacon said. "We made the plays at the end when it counted. That's what this team's done all season, week to week." game," Murphy said. "We're all looking forward to it."
In the end, that was the difference between the two teams yesterday. The Redskins are looking forward to playing more football. The Bengals are looking forward to going home.