Covered in mud and in doubt, the Philadelphia Eagles faced the interrogation. The crime was a 13-9 loss to the Redskins, the sentence was a 1-3 record.
"A miserable day," said quarterback Ron Jaworski.
The dark, visitors locker room at RFK Stadium seemed like a dungeon. It was almost as if each of the Eagles addressed his role as accomplice to the crime. Reporters' questions were met by players' questions. So many doubts.
Most of the Eagles pleaded the Fifth Amendment to questions about the first half. The Redskins led then, 10-0, gaining 238 total yards to Philadelphia's 90. The key play of the half was a 65-yard touchdown pass from Joe Theismann to Charlie Brown.
The man covering Brown--or, at least, covering from afar -- was cornerback Roynell Young. "That play was deflating," veteran linebacker John Bunting said.
The case for the defense was: "I'd rather not talk about it," said Young. Eagles Coach Dick Vermeil said, "I think Roynell just misjudged the ball."
Then, there was running back Louie Giammona talking about the fourth down crime. The Eagles had fourth and one on the Washington 18 with five minutes left in the third quarter. A field goal by Tony Franklin would have made it 10-6. But Vermeil opted to try for the first down, instead.
Giammona ran to the right side and didn't gain anything. It was a loss of possession and a loss of an opportunity. Several Eagles said they were surprised with the call.
The case for the defense: "He had the first down," said Vermeil. The coach said of a possible field goal attempt: "I thought about it." He wouldn't elaborate.
"The play is called 29-toss. It was designed to go to the outside," Giammona said. "But I couldn't get there. There was no place to go.
"I was surprised we used that play. We never practiced it. We only put it in this week," Giammona said.
Then, there was Franklin's missed extra point that could have tied the score, 10-10, with 4:29 left in the third quarter. Jaworski had just thrown a 44-yard touchdown pass to Harold Carmichael to close to 10-9. Franklin's extra point hit the left upright. The score remained 10-9.
The case for the defense: "No excuse. Good snap, good hold," said Franklin. "I just missed it."
When Mark Moseley kicked a 43-yard field goal 1 1/2 minutes later, the score was 13-9. "The missed extra point changed our strategy because later a field goal wouldn't tie the game," Jaworski said. "We needed a touchdown to win."
"It seems like thousands of times, the ball hits the upright and falls through," John Spagnola, the tight end, said. "But whenever Tony hits the post, it seems like that never happens."
Then, there were Jaworski's two fourth-quarter interceptions. These were perhaps the most devastating of the Eagles' mistakes because they occurred at the most visible moments.
The first came with 9:20 left to play. In 10 plays, the Eagles had driven 61 yards to the Washington 15. The Redskins' lead was 13-9. At the very least, a Philadelphia field goal might make it 13-12 with plenty of time left.
But on third and four, Jaworski threw a pass toward Spagnola in the front of the end zone. The pass was high and wobbly. Redskin safety Mark Murphy intercepted it. "The ball just slipped out of my hand," Jaworski said. "It just flew up there."
It ended the Eagles' best drive of the day. "Right when we got something going," said Giammona, "the interception jumped up and stopped us."
Spagnola said of the drive: "You could feel the momentum in the huddle. I know the Redskins felt it, too."
With 1:43 left and the ball on the Washington 29, the Eagles had one more chance. On fourth and 12, Jaworski's pass to wide receiver Ron Smith, streaking down the right sideline, was short. Washington safety Tony Peters intercepted it on the nine-yard line.
"I was trying to get the pass up," Jaworski said. "I didn't get a whole lot on the ball. Peters made a great play."
Jaworski finished 18 of 42 for 233, one touchdown and four interceptions. "I'm not going to use any excuses," he said.
Twenty-two months ago, they were in the Super Bowl. Now, the Philadelphia Eagles are in trouble. "You lose things over the sequence of time," Bunting said. Then, to rest the case of the Eagles' defense, Bunting added, "You start taking things for granted over time. You lose the hunger. We have to get it back"
"The playoffs?" Vermeil said, admitting there is no resting now for the defense; "We're just thinking about winning a game first."