Roy Green of the Cardinals is a rare NFL bird. In an era of specialists, he caught a touchdown pass, intercepted one and returned a kickoff against the Redskins today, and was not too tuckered to talk about it.

Green is a safety by trade, a third-year man from obscure Henderson State pressed into extra duty at wide receiver after Pat Tilley incurred a back injury early in the game. He had gotten a similar call last week against Dallas and caught a 60-yard gainer from Neil Lomax.

"All week long, I'd been practicing next to Pat," Green said after the 40-30 whipping of Washington. "Jim (Hart) would call the plays, I'd look at Pat and he'd tell me what to do. I had to catch on myself after that. But I thought I did a pretty good job."

"He deserves the applause," said Redskin strong safety Tony Peters. "We knew a little about him, but he played a key role. He was the main difference for them."

That became evident on a 58-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, the first Cardinal play from scrimmage after the Redskins scored. The Cardinals faulted Mark Murphy.

"The (free) safety was supposed to help deep," Hart said, "but he didn't drop back and do it. The Redskins had the same coverages we've come to expect through the years, but we caught them sloughing off on Green then."

"I've played enough defense to recognize this coverage," Green added. "When the safety's not there, I cut to the middle."

In addition to catching three other passes bringing his total haul to 115 yards, Green was used as the fifth back in special defenses. He intercepted the last of Joe Theismann's 37 passes and returned it 15 yards.

"When Pat hurt himself," Green said, "panic set in."

But not for long, and the Cardinals beat the Redskins in St. Louis for the first time since "Mel Gray day" six years ago and just the second time in the last 11 meetings.

"Something special," veteran Hart admitted.

"Last year they beat us pretty badly both times," wide receiver Dave Stief said. "The last game (a 31-7 Redskin victory that was not enough to keep Jack Pardee from being fired) left a bitter taste in my mouth. They know how good we are now."

Hart's left knee was hurt during the opening game 15 days ago, so badly that he was hospitalized. Said offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf today: "We're going to make them put him in the hospital again. Maybe it'll pick him up."

Green is on a high that will be temporary.

"It's going to be a sad day when (injured) Gray comes back and they only let me play defense," he said.

Hart was greedy the entire game, knowing the Cards' capacity to self-destruct against the Redskins over the years.

"After you get up 40-17, you think you're in control," he said. "But even then it isn't safe."

Said Redskin safety Peters: "They kept catching us in the right defenses for them. Hart kept hurting us on the blitzes."

But the Cardinals also had difficulty finding effective defenses for the Redskins' suddenly revitalized offense. Quarterback Theismann said that Coach Joe Gibbs told the players last week, "We are going to run the ball, period."

Washington, which had aggregated only 109 yards on the ground in the first two games, opened in a one-back (Wilbur Jackson), two-tight-end offense which provided an extra blocker at the corners.

Most of the Redskins' 133 running yards came around the left side of the offensive line where rookies Mark May and Joe Jacoby (in his first NFL start) were playing.

"The extra tight end gave us some big holes," said Jackson, who was playing for injured John Riggins. "We knew we had to run to get anything going on offense."

With Jackson doing the bulk of the ball-carrying (22 of the Redskins' 27 attempts), Terry Metcalf's hopes of a glorious return to St. Louis, where he once starred, were dashed. Metcalf, in place of injured Joe Washington, gained only 18 yards and caught four passes for 69.

"Running like we did helps our play-action fakes and our patterns against the linebackers," said Theismann, whose career-high 388 passing yards came a week after he had surpassed his previous high with 318.

"I had said I was more comfortable now with this offense and I am, every day," he said. "We are settling down and everyone is feeling better with it."

Art Monk, who caught four passes for 128 yards, agreed: "We always were confident we had the offensive talent and it was just discouraging that we weren't performing better. This isn't the best we can do, either."

Monk was involved in the best Redskin play of the day. Running a hitch pattern, he got in between segments of the Cardinal zone, caught Theismann's pass at his 45 and outran two defenders for a 79-yard touchdown. It was the longest reception of his career and Theismann's longest scoring pass.

"I was just hoping they couldn't catch me from behind," Monk said. "That is how my speed goes. Once I get going, it's hard to get me. But I have to get started first."

The Redskins reported that center Jeff Bostic, helped off the field in the game's final minutes, suffered a contusion of the knee and may be available next Sunday at Philadelphia.