The Washington Redskins have an idea how the Houston Oilers feel about losing two touchdowns to controversial calls in Sunday's 16-13 Redskins victory.
A week ago, the National Football League told the Redskins the officials made a mistake in the season opener when they ruled Dallas fullback Timmy Newsome did not fumble at the Washington one-yard line after a 16-yard reception in the second quarter. Dallas led 3-0 at the time.
Cornerback Darrell Green recovered the fumble in the end zone, but the officials ruled the ball was dead. On the next play, Newsome scored on a one-yard run and the Cowboys took a 10-0 lead. Dallas went on to win, 44-14.
"They said it was definitely a fumble," Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday. "You send (controversial) plays in (to be reviewed) every week . . . but I've never announced the decisions because it doesn't matter."
On Thursday, the league told the Oilers that cornerback Steve Brown's interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter and receiver Drew Hill's 16-yard scoring catch with 4:16 remaining in the game should have counted.
The Redskins vehemently disagree with the first decision, which was made when a review of the films apparently showed that quarterback Joe Theismann turned his back to draw an illegal block penalty on Brown's return.
"I think that's ludicrous, absolutely ridiculous," Theismann said yesterday. "I was trying to tackle the guy. I'm running toward the right sideline, so my back is to everybody anyway. How can I turn my back on somebody if I'm running with my back to him to begin with?"
Gibbs agreed. "Joe throws an interception. That's a traumatic thing. His next reaction is to go tackle somebody. He doesn't have the presence of mind to go over there and then at the last second, turn his back. That is ridiculous.
"They're (the league's officiating department) wrong sometimes, too."
The Redskins said they have no complaints with the decision on the catch by Hill, who had possession of the ball and both feet inbounds, the NFL said. But Gibbs doesn't buy the theory that Houston would have won the game.
"You can never tell what would have happened, because the outcome of that (Hill) play would obviously change everything that happened after the play."
Conversely, Theismann said things might have been different in Dallas if the Redskins had recovered that fumble.
"We had a bad call in the first game which really set the tone in that football game," he said.