John Sciarra said he just dropped the ball.
"The most sure-handed football player we have just dropped the ball," Eagle Coach Dick Vermeil said after Philadelphia had lost to the Redskins today, 15-13. "Sometimes it's just not your time."
Sciarra mishandled the snap from center and Tony Franklin never had a chance to kick what shaped up as a game-winning 24-yard field goal.
Trailing by two points with 58 seconds to play and the ball on the Redskin seven, it appeared to be the Eagles' time. Franklin had made five of five attempts this season from within 30 yards.
Guy Morriss, the nine-year veteran center, snapped the ball a tad high, but Sciarra, a former UCLA quarterback, said that was no excuse, he should have been able to spot it for Franklin's bare foot.
Instead, for the first time in his four-year career, he had trouble. The ball slipped upward, out of his palm. He tried to grasp it once, but the ball moved slightly before he had it in his possession. By that time, Franklin had started his kicking motion.
Sciarra got up out of his holding position and ran with the football. Redskin defenders Monte Coleman and Dexter Manley dropped him immediately, and the Eagles had lost their third straight game.
"My teammates were counting on me and I let them down," Sciarra said, talking somberly to a mob of reporters in the Philadelphia locker room at RFK Stadium. "The snap was good. I just muffed it. I mishandled the snap. That's what I get paid to do and I didn't do it. I tried to get up and run as far as I could. But they caught me."
Before Sciarra could say another word, Franklin came over and patted him on the back. "Don't let it worry you," Franklin said.
When someone offered that it was understandable if he didn't want to talk about it any more, Sciarra said, "No, I don't. But I'm not going to run away. Shoot the questions. There's not much to reconstruct for you.
"Maybe I was trying to place it too soon. Maybe. Oh, I can't make excuses," Sciarra said. "I just dropped it. I feel bad for the team."
Elsewhere around the Philadelphia clubhouse, lots of chairs were being slammed and curses uttered, but the Philadelphia players were quick to relieve Sciarra of the blame.
"It shouldn't have come down to a field goal anyway," said Morriss.
"If there's one person in the world I'd want holding in that situation it would be John Sciarra," said quarterback Ron Jaworski. "When you hold as many snaps as he has, it's bound to happen once."
Jaworski received his own share of criticism for the defeat. He threw three interceptions, including one that Redskin linebacker Coleman returned 52 yards for the winning touchdown.
That play came with eight minutes remaining, and Philadelphia operating on second and 10 from Washington's 47.
Vermeil was trying to call time to replace fullback Booker Russell with Billy Campfield, a better pass receiver. Jaworski noticed that halfback Calvin Murray had lined up, strangely, at wide receiver. But it was nothing to be overly concerned about.
"I didn't see Dick trying to call time out," Jaworski said, "even though I know he was probably over there on the sideline trying to get personnel in and out of the game. But I didn't see anything wrong with what we had on the field. I didn't want to call time out at that point in the game. I felt comfortable running that play."
It was a screen pass to Russell, receiver of one pass, for minus five yards, all season. Russell, with four blockers in front of him, tipped the pass into the air. Coleman grabbed it, cut back in front of Jaworski, and ran by the quarterback for the touchdown.