Running 89 yards on a kickoff return is something new for Philadelphia Eagles rookie Andre Waters. But running fast and hard is not.
"I'm fast because I used to chase rabbits in the sugar cane fields during burn-down season," said Waters, who scored today's game-winning touchdown on his runback. "Every fall, in September and October, they burn the sugar cane down, and the rabbits would have to come out.
"They would have nowhere to go. The only thing they could do was jump over a canal. But we would run them down. We caught a lot of them," said Waters, a rookie free agent from nearby Cheyney State, whose last touchdown return came in 1977 for his Florida high school team.
It was the Eagles' longest kickoff return for a touchdown since Billy Campfield returned one 92 yards against Detroit Dec. 2, 1979.
The Eagles produced only 165 yards of offense, but their defense and special teams did just enough to throw the NFC East race into chaos once again.
Waters' return in the third quarter, and three field goals by rookie Paul McFadden, gave the Eagles a 16-10 victory over the Redskins.
The Eagles (5-6-1) forced six turnovers, including the game-clinching interception by cornerback Elbert Foules at his 14 that stopped Washington's last-ditch drive with four seconds left.
"We've had to battle all season trying to get consistent and it paid off today," Philadelphia Coach Marion Campbell said. "Our defense played good football. They fought like hell on every snap. We got the turnovers today, and the other things you need to win."
The loss dropped Washington to 7-5 but it retained a share of first in the division as Dallas lost to Buffalo. The New York Giants also moved up to 7-5 by defeating St. Louis.
The Redskins' problems were increased by the two fumbles by John Riggins, who lost one inside the Eagles' five. Riggins went into the game having fumbled only five times in his last 247 carries and six pass receptions.
McFadden, who kicked field goals of 43 and 34 yards in the first half and is 23 of 26 this season, turned Riggins' second fumble into a 41-yard field goal for a 9-7 lead in the third quarter. Mark Moseley answered with a 33-yard field goal that period but the Redskins then kicked off to Waters with disastrous results.
He caught the ball at his 11, got through the first wave of tacklers near the 30 and cut left, outracing kicker Jeff Hayes and Anthony Washington to the end zone with 5:08 left in the quarter.