They may not have represented the entire future of the Washington Redskins, but with one all-pro in Arlington Hospital with a fractured leg and two others watching from the sidelines, quarterback Jay Schroeder and running back Keith Griffin, a pair of two-year veterans, were close enough.
Schroeder came in after Joe Theismann suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg. He had thrown only eight professional passes before last night, but he finished 13 of 20 for 221 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions as the Redskins rallied to beat the Giants, 23-21, last night at RFK Stadium.
Griffin entered the game full-time midway through the third quarter with New York leading, 21-14. George Rogers' fumble had just set up an eight-yard touchdown run by Joe Morris. John Riggins previously had lost two fumbles for the Redskins, who had fumbled only nine times all season -- fewest in the league -- with none in the last four games.
"The two guys who did it were the two guys who had been sitting on the bench," said Rogers, who was surprised that Coach Joe Gibbs benched him after the fumble. "You can't give Schroeder enough credit for coming in there like that. If he hadn't done it, we would have been booed out of there."
Schroeder, who gave up a struggling baseball career in the Toronto Blue Jays system for football, said he was not nervous.
"I'm nervous only when my wife is having a baby (which she did one year ago today), but other than that, I try not to get nervous," said Schroeder, who looked calm standing in the pocket and occasionally scrambling. "Every week, you think maybe it will be now for you. I never had any doubts in my ability."
The Redskins made few concessions for Schroeder. His first pass went for a 44-yard completion to Art Monk.
"It was just something that was in the game plan," said the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Schroeder. "I had a little heat on it, but if I had thrown it another step further, it probably would have been a touchdown."
Veteran offensive lineman Russ Grimm said the line was consciously trying to give Schroeder an extra level of protection.
"We knew we had to protect Jay and that it might take him a second longer to do some things," said Grimm. "But Jay has looked good in practice, and he looked great today. He kept his head on his shoulders and showed a lot of poise. He was a real general for us today."
Griffin, whose status in his rookie year was jeopardized because of a propensity toward fumbling, did not expect to be the one back in the Washington offense with the game on the line.
"It's ironic. Last year, I was the one who was having the problems with the fumbles, and today I was in because other people were fumbling," said Griffin, who finished with 44 yards on 15 carries and caught three passes for 27 yards. "Everybody dug down deep today. It was a day for new faces."
Did Griffin think the unit that finished the game may be the one the Redskins go with now?
"I doubt they are just going to stop using John and George," said Griffin. "But whenever that time comes, I am ready for it."