Third play of the day: Redskin wide receiver Art Monk ran a simple post pattern down the right sideline. He gave St. Louis cornerback Carl Allen a head fake right, cut inside, caught a pass from Joe Theismann at about the 10 and ran in for a 38-yard touchdown. The game was 61 seconds old.
Allen was so thoroughly beaten, he didn't even chase Monk into the end zone. He just stood at the 15-yard line, hands on hips and legs crossed. St. Louis Coach Jim Hanifan stared at Allen but didn't say anything. Not yet.
Three minutes later, Allen made the identical mistake, resulting in a 51-yard touchdown pass to Virgil Seay. Hanifan let loose.
"I said, 'Hey, you're supposed to play inside coverage, aren't you, Carl?' He said 'Yes, Coach.' And I said, 'It's too damn late now.' "
It was too late for the Cardinals. Those touchdown passes gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead en route to a 42-21 victory at RFK Stadium. Several Cardinals played poorly enough -- quarterback Jim Hart included -- to share the blame. But no mistakes stood out more clearly yesterday than Allen's.
Approached in the visitors' locker room after the game, Allen glared angrily at a reporter and said, "I ain't got nothing to say, man. Nothing at all."
His coach did.
"We were in man-to-man defensive coverage, and he was supposed to play the inside on those receivers," Hanifan said.
"The upsetting thing," Hanifan went on, "is to work and prepare individuals through the week -- on the basics, like playing inside technique -- and you get burned on it. The technique comes down to mental preparation. As a coach, you constantly stress the mental preparation, but the individuals have to be ready to play on Sunday. It's a mental problem to get burned like that."
Hanifan was quick to point out that he was not blaming the defeat on Allen, a fifth-year pro from Southern Mississippi. "I'm not going to place Carl in a goat category," he said. "He's been playing well before today. I don't expect him to be benched next week."
The plays on which Allen was burned were particularly designed by Coach Joe Gibbs to exploit whichever defender was in Allen's position. The St. Louis strong safety sometimes plays up close to the line of scrimmage, leaving the cornerback one on one against the receiver.
With no safety to help out, the cornerback must be wary of the receiver cutting inside to an unprotected middle. Allen was not.