The Philadelphia Eagles thought they had the perfect play to open today's game against the Washington Redskins. They would take advantage of rookie cornerback Darrell Green and set the tempo for the rest of the day.
It didn't work, though, because free safety Mark Murphy intercepted Ron Jaworski's long pass intended for wide receiver Mike Quick. Ten plays later, the Redskins scored and went on to a 23-13 victory at Veterans Stadium.
"It was the play we wanted to start the game with," Eagles Coach Marion Campbell said. "We hoped to come up with something big out of it, though."
The play was to be a fly pattern down the right sideline by Quick, which the Eagles expected would leave Green alone to cover him.
"They didn't run the coverage we anticipated," said Quick (four receptions, 106 yards). "I expected one-on-one coverage by Green, but he rolled up and the safety covered me deep. I just ran down the sideline after the ball."
Jaworski lofted the ball so Quick could run under it, but Murphy was waiting and made the interception. From then on, it was a day of blunders and almosts for the Eagles (1-1).
Playing without star running back Wilbert Montgomery, out with a sprained knee, the Eagles had virtually no running game. The Redskins' pass rushers went after Jaworski, who completed 24 of 37 passes for 326 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice and sacked six times for 49 yards in losses. The Eagles rushed for 35 yards on 21 carries.
"We knew we had to throw the ball to beat the Redskins," Jaworski said. "They're big and strong and we knew we weren't going to get much inside."
It appeared that whenever the Eagles tried to run inside, Dave Butz was there. He was credited with only one sack and two tackles, but seemed to be on the bottom of every pileup, including a fourth and one at the Washington 17 early in the second quarter. Butz stood up fullback Major Everett to end the drive.
The Eagles had numerous breakdowns. Jaworski fumbled the snap from center Guy Morriss three times, Harold Carmichael (who caught nine passes for 108 yards) dropped one in the end zone and Ron Smith dropped a pass late in the game that would have given the Eagles a first down.
"It was just one of those days," Jaworski said of the center snaps. "It was hot and humid and Guy's hands were sweating and so were mine. Those three fumbled exchanges are three wasted plays and you can't have that against the world champions."
The Eagles had problems defensively, too. They expected to have trouble with John Riggins and Charlie Brown, but Nick Giaquinto? Giaquinto, a reserve running back who plays only on passing situations, made two big plays and the Eagles remembered both vividly.
The first came early in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 10. The Redskins had third and two at the Eagles' 35. Philadelphia appeared to have Joe Theismann trapped, but he found Giaquinto over the middle, despite blanket coverage by safety Wes Hopkins, and Giaquinto turned it into a 21-yard gain. One play later, Riggins scored the winning touchdown.
Later in the final quarter, Giaquinto caught a screen pass and ran 20 yards to set up a field goal by Mark Moseley that gave the Redskins a 20-10 advantage.
The Eagles used two of their three second-half timeouts because of mental errors, Jaworski said. They used one when he broke the huddle and went to the line of scrimmage and found he had 13 players on the field. "It seemed like I had two of everything," he said, "two wide receivers, two running backs, two tight ends . . . "
On another play, he said, rookie Michael Haddix (replacing Montgomery) lined up on the wrong side.
Campbell called a surprise play when he went for an onside kick after a field goal by Tony Franklin had reduced the Redskins' lead to 20-13 with 2:32 left. The attempt was unsuccessful and the Redskins later got another field goal. "Washington's offense was hot at the time. They'd been moving the ball and I just didn't want to take the chance of not getting the ball back," said Campbell. "Any time you're down around 2 1/2 minutes, I think that's a good move.
"The most disappointing thing for us is that we got a lot of yards today, but not a lot of points to go with them. I guess the Redskins were the reason for that."