There have been times this season when Mark Moseley has gone home after a game and told his wife, Sharon, that he can't help but feel helpless.
"I haven't had to be used like I like to be used," he was saying yesterday. "I'm barely getting one field goal a game. That's what's frustrating.
"I can't help us."
Is there anything worse for a field-goal kicker than playing for a team that isn't often sitting pretty inside the opponent's 30?
Moseley has not won (or lost) a game with a late field goal or extra point this season.
But don't blame him. Only two Redskins' games have been decided after halftime: the loss to Philadelphia, the victory over the New York Giants. In the 11 other games, the lead didn't change after the first half.
Often, Moseley has laced up his kicking shoe and looked up just in time to watch a turnover or sack bring on the defense or the punting team. Or, when he does trot in for a field goal in close, the fans boo. During this 7-6 season, they're looking for touchdowns.
"I haven't had many opportunities," Moseley said after practice at Redskin Park. "All we get is one shot a game, it seems.
"I've told my wife after games that I kinda feel helpless. Then, when you do get a shot and you miss, you know you'll have to wait one week, then maybe another and another, before you get another shot."
Moseley has made 17 of 23 field goals this season, including three of three in victories over Atlanta and Pittsburgh. He is 23 of 25 on extra points.
Special teams Coach Wayne Sevier says that's "pretty good."
But comparisons kill him. In 1983, Moseley was the league's leading scorer with 161 points. He made 33 of 47 field goals and 62 of 63 extra points, put in position often by an offense that scored an NFL-record 541 points.
A year earlier, he set an NFL record for consecutive field goals with 23 and became the only kicker to win the league's MVP award. His foot was the difference in five of the Redskins' nine regular-season games during the strike-shortened Super Bowl season.
"Every week, it seemed if I missed a field goal, we would have lost the game," he said.
This season, his field goals have made the difference in a 16-13 win over Houston, a 23-21 victory over the Giants, and a 30-23 victory over Pittsburgh, but his 74 total points barely put him among the NFC's top 10 kickers, 39 points away from Chicago's Kevin Butler, the leader.
There was bound to be a letdown after the high-pitched, frenzied war of words and nerves this summer between Moseley and Tony Zendejas, the $150,000 bonus baby who seemed certain to take Moseley's 11-year-old job.
Better with a quote than a summertime statistic, Zendejas finally was traded to the Houston Oilers, where he has made 20 of 25 field goals and 23 of 25 extra points.
"He's had a pretty good year," Moseley said.
When Coach Joe Gibbs decided to stick with his 37-year-old veteran, he said it was a decision he was going to "hang" his job and future on.
He pictured asking somebody to kick a 40-yard field goal in "a driving rainstorm or an ice storm," with the playoffs on the line.
How things have changed. "We as players and coaches expected more out of ourselves this season," Moseley said. "But, you know, there have been so many crazy things happening, the injuries, the bad breaks . . . making the playoffs now in itself would be a pretty good season."
Now, he looks for encouraging signs. He is six of eight with his new holder, Jay Schroeder. With two more years left on a $730,000 contract, he figures he likely will reach age 40 here. And the competition can't be as bad as this year.
"When you get to my age," he said, "competition will always be a factor, but I don't think it'll be like this summer."
Nor, perhaps, will another season be like this fall.
Guard Russ Grimm (sprained ankle, bruised knee) practiced for the first time this week and told Gibbs he "wants to play," Gibbs said.
A decision on starting Grimm likely will be made today.
Center Rick Donnalley (broken hand, sprained shoulder) worked with the offensive reserves against the first-team defense and likely will fill a reserve role Sunday against the Eagles.