Things were different then, the first time the Federals (1-10) played the Boston Breakers (6-5).

Long since forgotten names like Steve Hoffman, Obed Ariri, Phil Dubois and Mark Sanford appeared on the Federals' roster. All have been cut. General Manager Dick Myers had high hopes of bringing in former NFL quarterback Joe Gilliam to pick up an offense that, after only two games, had already showed symptoms of chronic dysfunction. Even head Coach Ray Jauch was not yet in jeopardy of losing his job.

But, now, eight weeks later, as the Federals prepare to play Boston again, in RFK Stadium today at 1:30 p.m., one of the few things to remain unchanged is the hope to make things better. The Federals still want to win, still believe they can.

"Losing to Boston that first time was a while ago," Jauch said yesterday. "It shouldn't have anything to do with what happens this time, except that it should help us better prepare to win."

In the first game, the Federals lost, 19-16, at Nickerson Field in Boston. With the score tied at 16 and 51 seconds left, a bad snap on an Ariri field goal attempt set up the final score. Boston's Tim Mazzetti kicked a 29-yard field goal with 27 seconds left to give Boston the win.

Last week, Boston beat Denver, 17-9, and broke a three-game losing streak. The Federals had no such good fortune, losing against Oakland, 34-27, and extending their losing streak to seven.

This season, Boston quarterback Johnnie Walton has completed 221 of 380 passes for 2,467 yards, second in the league to Fred Besana of Oakland, and has five receivers with more than 25 receptions. Nolan Franz is his leading receiver with 44 receptions for 573 yards, followed by running back Richard Crump, the team's leading rusher with 583 yards on 125 carries and a 4.7 average. Last time against the Federals, Crump rushed for 130 yards on 15 carries.

"Any time you play a team with a great passing game," Jauch said, "you have to mix your defenses up to find out what's working for you. Walton gets rid of the ball so quickly it's been difficult for anybody to get to him all year. His release is so quick. There's no wonder his stats are so great."

Boston's most remarkable statistic should be credited to the Breakers offensive line. In 11 games, blocking for a quarterback who leads the league in passing attempts, they've allowed only four sacks. Tackle Louis Bullard, a four-year veteran formerly with Seattle, is the only non-rookie. Dan Hurley is the other tackle. Jerrell Franklin and Gerry Raymond, both 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, are the guards. The center is Mike McLaughlin.

Kicker Mazzetti is the team's leading scorer with 75 points. He has hit 17 of 23 field goals and all 24 extra points. Mazetti has made 12 of 13 field goals inside the 40. His longest is from 50 yards. "What can you say about the guy?" Jauch said. "He's been remarkable all year."

Jauch, after waiving tight end Tony Samuels, a two-game starter, signed Scott Facyson, a 25-year-old linebacker and graduate of Howard University who had been coaching at UDC, and Victor Jackson, a 6-foot, 195-pound defensive back from Bowie State. Jauch also activated wide receiver Jeff Postell and Vince Rogusky, a tight end from Lehigh who missed the last three games with a fractured wrist.

"Rogusky looks good and will start for us," Jauch said. "But we'll probably use the others on special teams." All U.S. Football League teams expanded their rosters to 43 active players this week.

Linebacker Mike Corvino, a rookie from Maryland, will start in place of Jeff McIntyre, who fractured his foot against Oakland last week.