Field goals and tempers went left and right today as Mark Moseley and Tony Zendejas of the Washington Redskins continued their weak-fisted tug of war.
Can't anybody around here kick a field goal? The Redskins defeated the Los Angeles Raiders, 14-9, at the Los Angeles Coliseum, but had little help from Zendejas and Moseley, who continued their great shankdown.
"All I know," said Zendejas, 26, the rookie who is trying to win Moseley's job, "is that I haven't done anything. I'm good in practice but that doesn't mean anything. I've just got to forget this and move on."
Moseley, 37, was more concise with his feelings: "Get out of here!" he screamed from behind his enclosed locker when a reporter came knocking. When the team public relations director, Charlie Taylor, later asked Moseley if he would speak to the press, Moseley declined. Minutes later, he exited the same way as his kick: to the right.
The reason for the scorn and silence today was simple. Moseley missed wide right from 35 yards on his only attempt. Zendejas missed wide right from 39 yards and his kick from 47 yards late in the game was blocked.
Consequently, two weeks into the preseason, this duel has fizzled. It's a little like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr taking 10 paces, turning and each shooting himself in the foot.
The special teams coach, Wayne Sevier, said the blocked kick appeared to be more the fault of Zendejas than of the offensive line. "From where I stood," he said, "it just looked like a defensive guy running upfield put his hand up and hit the ball. In my opinion, it was a low kick."
That's not all Sevier had to say: "It looks like neither guy wants to seize the opportunity. I guess this type of thing probably hurts Tony more than Mark. We know what Mark has done in the past."
Coach Joe Gibbs wore a concerned look when he said, "Right now, I don't like what I see. We're working our guts out to get down the field and we come away with nothing. That's demoralizing.
"We're constantly getting inside (the opposing 30-yard line) and not getting points. That's a reversal of our history. That's not good."
Forget all of those spring and camp numbers on Moseley and Zendejas. All that matters now is what happens in the preseason games.
In last week's 17-14 victory over Atlanta, Zendejas missed his only attempt, from 43 yards. Moseley converted a 35-yarder and missed a 39-yarder.
Thus, in the preseason, Moseley is one for three and Zendejas zero for three.
Anybody got Lou Groza's phone number?
"I don't know; I just don't know," General Manager Bobby Beathard said, standing on the sideline near game's end today. "They have got two more (preseason) games. Both Mark and Tony had a great opportunity today and neither took advantage of it."
At that point, Zendejas was lining up for his 47-yarder. Beathard crouched to get a better look at the kicker to whom he gave an estimated $100,000 signing bonus. Then came the block. Beathard looked at the ground, immobilized as if by horror.
"Unbelievable," he muttered.
Quarterback Joe Theismann said he can see the pressure of the battle affecting his buddy Moseley, the 15-year veteran.
"The pressure is unmerciful," Theismann said. "It's the worst possible situation."
Moseley happens to be the only kicker in league history to win a most valuable player award (for the 1982 season). He is also the only kicker to score as many as 161 points in a season (1983). Right now, those facts are Moseley's biggest allies.
Zendejas' greatest claims to fame are that he led the U.S. Football League in total goals last season and that he is 11 years younger than Moseley. All things considered, the scales are beginning to tip in Moseley's favor.
"I just didn't get a good hit on the first one," Zendejas said today. And what about charging cornerback Sam Seale, who just missed blocking the kick with a dive from the left?
"I didn't even see him," Zendejas said. "And I didn't see the block on the second one. I heard it. I did hit that one good, I thought.
"I'm just not used to doing this. I can't remember the last time I missed two field goals in a game."
Zendejas said he finds no solace in the fact that Moseley missed today, too. "I can't worry about him," Zendejas said. "It can't help me. I'm not producing. You only get so many chances."
Indeed, nobody is dancing in the Chino, Calif., home of Zendejas or the Haymarket, Va., domicile of Moseley tonight. Indeed, they will be filled with uncertainty for at least another week.
It wasn't surprising, then, when a visitor walked up to Zendejas in the Redskins' locker room late today, asked him how he was doing and got the reply, "Not too good."