That 19-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles has become a little more painful and expensive to the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins have been forced to place linebacker Monte Coleman on injured reserve for a minimum of four weeks with a severely strained hamstring that he incurred chasing the Eagles' Mike Quick on a 69-yard pass play.
And so, just like that, an athlete who had 10.5 quarterback sacks in 1984 and is considered a vital pass defender and special teams player has vanished.
When the Redskins confront Chicago's Walter Payton and the potential Jim McMahon-to-Willie Gault lightning strikes at Soldier Field Sunday, Mel Kaufman will play most of the time at right linebacker.
This might not have been of great concern under normal circumstances, since Kaufman and Coleman usually alternate, anyway. However, Kaufman missed the Eagles game with a pinched nerve in his neck.
Trainer Bubba Tyer put the Redskins' minds at ease, however, when he said Kaufman's injury has healed and he will be ready to start this week.
To fill Coleman's spot on the roster, the team signed Chris Keating, a seven-year linebacker who was the player representative for the Buffalo Bills until he was cut by the team a month ago after he was involved in a contract holdout.
Keating held out for four weeks this summer. He finally signed a one-year contract with Buffalo ("I did the compromising, not them," he said), played in one exhibition game, and then was cut. It was the third time in his career that Keating, who had 165 tackles as a starter two years ago, had been cut by Buffalo.
It's no wonder then that, upon arriving at Redskin Park yesterday, Keating said, "Coming here is like dreaming about something and then having it come true.
"Sitting back and watching the games for a couple weeks does one of two things. You either swallow the fact that you won't play anymore or you'll come back and look at the game in a new light. I'm just happy to put a uniform on again. I'm not going to worry about what will happen down the road."
Keating, 27, is expected to play on special teams and will back up Kaufman and Stuart Anderson at right linebacker Sunday. The Redskins did not previously give Keating a tryout. They signed him only after having viewed his performances on film.
"To tell you the truth, we don't know much about him," said Richie Petitbon, the defensive coach. "We know he's a tough kid and a smart kid."
If the search for a linebacker ended yesterday at Redskin Park, the soul-searching did not. As defensive tackle Darryl Grant said, "We haven't beat anybody yet. We won a game, but we haven't beat anybody."
Grant was referring, of course, to several controversial calls that permitted the Redskins (1-2) to hold on to a 16-13 victory over Houston. The memory of that game, however, is the the least of the Redskins' worries.
It seems odd that a team that set a league record with a plus-43 turnover differential only two years ago now stands at minus-10, the worst in the league.
"We're not making plays. We're not getting the turnovers. We're not taking advantage of the opportunities," Grant said. "Everyone will have to look at themselves from the standpoint of having to win the game all by himself.
"We're going to have to concentrate on hitting the ball carriers harder," Grant said. "Eventually, something will happen. The ball will be on the ground and be ours. We just have to make a concerted effort to knock the daylights out of people."
Linebacker Rich Milot said, "I think it's like Coach (Joe) Gibbs said: when we were going to the Super Bowl a couple years ago, we had good talent that played great. Now, we we have better talent playing good."
In the uncertainty of this 1-2 start, some observers seeking a precedent from the Gibbs era have looked beyond the 1-2 start of last year all the way to the 0-5 start in 1981, Gibbs' first year as head coach.
"I think back to 0-5," Milot said, "and think that, back then, we didn't know what type of team we had. We were all new. Now, we see a team that's talented and not playing up to its potential. I'm an optimist. I think it's less discouraging now because we know what we can do."
If the Redskins' turnover differential has plummeted (they were a plus-two in their 1-2 start of 1984), at least one thing has improved: the number of roster moves they have been forced to make because of injury.
At this point last year, the Redskins had made six roster moves. Players such as Jimmy Smith and Brian Carpenter were cut and traded and others such as Alvin Garrett, Todd Liebenstein, Mike Williams and Anderson were put on the injured list.
The Redskins had claimed Walt Arnold, Ricky Smith, Jim Youngblood, Rick Kane, Mark McGrath and Tom Beasley before they had played four games.
The only roster additions and subtractions in the first three weeks of this season have been the addition of Keating and kick returner Ken Jenkins and the subtraction of Coleman and Michael Morton (released).
At least there has been something that has been settled with these Redskins.
The loss of Coleman, who had six tackles and no sacks in three games, could have more than a small effect on the team. Milot said, "Without Monte, you lose the chance for a lot of big plays."
Grant said, "(Without Coleman), we're losing pass coverage, blitzing ability and the depth, the real solid depth."
"Monte is a valuable guy for us," Petitbon said. But with typical refusal-to-surrender reasoning, he added, "(But) Mel is more than adequate."
Grant cited the Bears' numerous offensive strengths, listing Payton, quarterback McMahon, receivers Gault and Dennis McKinnon and so forth.
"They have a great offensive line, too," Grant said, about to prove that the Redskins have lost games, but not their sense of humor, "but, of course, Mr. (Dexter) Manley will take care of that all by himself."
Tackle Mark May entered Arlington Hospital to undergo tests for a stomach disorder. Tyer said the tests were negative and that May is expected to practice today . . . After a day off yesterday, the Redskins go back to work today.