When the National Football League playoffs began yesterday afternoon, much of America was watching on television.

Not Redskin Coach Jack Pardee.

"I still haven't quite gotten over ours," Pardee said, referring to his team's heartbreaking 35-34 loss in Dallas that knocked Washington out of the playoffs a week ago.

"We've had the television on most of the afternoon but I really haven't been watching. I've been working on getting the Christmas tree up, getting things ready for Christmas.

"It's been a rough week and today's a little bit rougher because today's the day we could have been playing. The Dallas game was the roughest loss I've ever been involved in. I feel like we lost a doubleheader. We had two shots to get into the playoffs and didn't get either."

As first the Eagles and Beras, then the Oilers and Broncos squared off, most Redskins in the area were either watching with one eye, or not watching at all.

"I'm not going to watch the games," quarterback Joe Theismann said before the first kickoff. "I just have to do something that will get my mind off it, make me forget about it. I'll probably take the kids to the park or something. I just won't be able to watch the games knowing the best teams aren't in the playoffs. You'll never convince me we don't belong there, too."

Al the Redskins agreed with their quarterback, but many were watching anyway.

"We all know we should be there, but that's beside the point now, I guess," said place-kicker Mark Moseley. "You can't cry over spilled milk, I'm watching but I'm not very interested. I'd rather see Philadelphia win just because I want to see the best team possible represent the conference."

By halftime, though, Moseley had seen enough.

"I'm going to take a nap," he said.

Fullback John Riggins also watched a half, but not with a lot of enthusiasm.

"I'm pretty much over the frustration now," he said. "It's over, that's the only way to look at it. I watched because the playoffs are the playoffs.

"But I have things to do to get ready for Christmas. Right now the importance of packing has overcome the importance of watching the game. I'm packing."

Tackle George Starke never even thought about watching either game, but for a simple reason: he doesn't like to watch football games.

"I never watch football on television," Starke said. "I've been working on my house here (in Northwest Washington), putting down a new floor in my bathroom."

But Starke admitted he couldn't help but think about football, even if he wasn't watching it.

"It feels strange not working on Sunday," he said. "It's sort of a bizarre feeling. We know we should be there, we should still be playing. But I'm not going to sit around and dwell on it. That just isn't healthy."

Healthy or not, linebacker Brad Dusek couldn't help but play the "whatif" game as he watched the Eagles and Bears.

"I keep thinking about what defense we'd be using against different formations or how we'd handle certain plays. I'm trying to take it like a spectator but I keep wishing we were there."

The same was true for center Bob Kuziel.

"It's frustating, I feel pangs sitting here watching," he said. "It's hard to sit home and watch something you feel you should be involved in.

"We all worked hard to get to play this week or rest this week and play next week and all we're doing is watching it on television."

With the sudden end of their season only a week behind them, the Redskins could not find it within themselves to start looking ahead to next year. The memories of this year were still too vivid.

"I'm just trying to put my mind on the offseason," Riggins said. "It's always hard not to look back at something like this, but you just can't afford to do it."

"You can't help but think about what might have been," said Joe Walton, offensive coordinator. We've been sitting here watching the game and you can't help but think about it.

"It doesn't help a bit to watch the other guys playing in the games you want to be playing in, but here I am still watching it. I guess that's because" it's my business. But the same thought keeps running through my mind; 'We should have been there.'"

General Manager Bobby Beathard had the game on but was having trouble getting excited about the outcome.

"Yeah, I guess it's better than an old movie," he said with a laugh. "We've been watching, doing this and that around the house.

"The whole thing kind of feels funny. We wish we were playing but there's just nothing we can do about it. We're watching because we're all sitting here. That's about the only reason."

For most of the Redskins, the first Sunday of the "second season" was a somewhat painful one, even as some of them prepared to head for punter Mike Bragg's house for a small Christmas party last night.

Said Pardee: "The biggest problem is that we were totally unprepared for this. "None of us had thought about the season ending so soon. We all thought we'd still be playing. I'll probably watch the rest of the playoffs. But right now to sit and watch would be a little too much. I'm just not ready yet. I need some time."