Talk about mega-miserable. No Redskin spoke through a bag in the dressing room this week, possibly because Safeway doesn't make one massive enough to cover 27 or so heads at once.

The exact blame count could not be determined, though it included nearly everyone except the oft-maligned maulers on defense. The other guys, as John Riggins put it, "played like a bunch of toads, when it's all said and done."

Devotees of Washington pro football may be asking themselves: could a team of toads beat a team of gerbils? Too bad the Federals left town before that could be determined.

Anyway, when it was all said and done on a day that matched the game in awfulness, an Eagles team that almost always plays the Redskins tough finally won. Beat 'em on the field worse than on the scoreboard.

Bottom line for the Redskins, and they know it, is this: They have played badly enough to lose their last five games -- and have lost three. Even more terrifying, they next face the best 1-11 team in the NFL, the Bills.

"We play fairly decent ball for some halves," Riggins analyzed, "and parts of the team plays well for whole games. But the whole team playing well the whole game hasn't happened."

How come? Is the offense too predictable? The Eagles seemed to slant everybody but Ben Franklin toward the Grimm-Jacoby side of the Redskins' line -- and Riggins still ran that way.

"We were predictable last year," Riggins countered, "but still got the job done (until the Super Bowl). We've got to keep doing what we do best. Right now, we're lacking."

Right now, there are more questions than answers. Such as: It seemed today as though Joe Theismann tried to make matters as difficult as possible for himself. With large bodies crashing nearby, some of them eager to rip him apart, Theismann still seemed to have time to ask:

"Who's the least-open receiver on this play? Where's the double coverage? Anybody triple-teamed? Good. I'll go there; the more arms to throw through, the better."

Looked that way from afar, Joe. Looked as though you tried several passes that only a gun with a serial number could complete. Which leads to the observation: If the receiver you were aiming for was doubled, didn't that leave a friend open somewhere?

We are taught from birth that every defense gives something. What the Eagles gave Theismann today was fits.

"We're missing consistency, with Jeff (Moore) and Cal (Muhammad)," said Theismann, testifying in his own behalf. "One of the consistent factors is the wide receivers being able to read as I do.

"Jeff and Cal are new. They've learned the system, and they're learning to do that as well. There's no blame. Unfortunately, they're still working their way into (a read-and-react offense)."

Good thing the Redskins' defense at least was consistent. That and Ron Jaworski resembling a San Diego Padres starter in the World Series now and then. High and too tight now; low and away then. Teams two for 13 on third down are not supposed to win.

For most of the game, the Redskins were more likely to score when the defense was on the field. Lately, there's been nothing like STP to give the opposition the racer's edge.

That would be Special Teams Play. Today was more versatile than the blocked-punt parade by the Lions. A muffed punt return and an 89-yard kickoff runback for a touchdown by the Eagles were added to the usual punt thrill.

"A game of mistakes (eight turnovers and 12 penalties in all)," guard Grimm said, "and we made more mistakes than they did.

"They played the same defense they usually do. Same defense as the first time (the Redskins' 20-0 victory Sept. 30); we just didn't make things happen."

Much as they would prefer it to be otherwise, the Redskins are incurable dramatists. Even in those 9-1 and 14-2 regular seasons, the divisional races were tense to the end.

"I don't think this team was made to lock things up early," Grimm said.

This could have been the happiest dank-dreary day in recent Redskin memory: beating the Eagles while the Cowboys were being humiliated by Buffalo and the Giants were beating the Cardinals.

Two touchdowns hardly seems too much to ask from a team that set the universe afire a year ago with a record 541 points. Also, the Eagles had been ranked 22nd against the run.

Riggins almost never fumbles, let alone losing two, and insisted his being 35 and ailing enough to take last week off were not the reasons.

"When it rains, it pours," he said. "First time, a guy put his hat on the ball. Second time, I didn't have hold of it and still tried to get the first down. That wasn't the wisest thing to do.

"Sometimes you try to do too much. Sometimes you take a few chances. I probably should have protected the ball more (on that bobble at the Eagles' two). Maybe it was a mental lapse.

"But the first-down play, I thought we got a bad mark. Unless my knee was down, I thought the ball was over the goal line. Apparently, he (the official) wanted the ball all the way in the end zone.

"That's not necessarily what the rule is."

Like the rest of the team, Riggins was ambivalent. On the one hand, he admitted: "We knew what was at stake and still couldn't do anything about it." Later, he said, "We're not in a panicky situation.

"When you get a defense playing like ours did today, you're never out of a game. The rest will come."