IRVING, TEX., OCT. 19 -- Jack Kent Cooke rushed into the locker room with the speed and purpose of a man half his age. The 75-year-old owner of the Washington Redskins gave Coach Joe Gibbs the tightest of bear hugs in the middle of a mad, mad visiting locker room a half-hour into Tuesday morning.

"It was heaven," Cooke said. "I don't think I've ever been so excited."

The replacement Redskins had won their own personal Super Bowl here at Texas Stadium over the Dallas Cowboys, and strangely enough, there wasn't much time to do the thanking.

After a delirious celebration of 20 minutes or so, the voices grew quiet when the players realized more than just the game was over.

What should have been perhaps the biggest moment in Tony Robinson's athletic career was bittersweet in many ways, even more so than that of the other replacement Redskins whose football futures are so uncertain.

When Ed Rubbert bruised his right shoulder late in the first quarter, Gibbs and the Redskins had no choice but to turn to Robinson, who had not played a down in the three replacement games, and whose practice time in the past week had dwindled to nearly nothing. One day last week, he didn't even take a snap with the first team.

"It was really a disservice to him to throw him in like that against the Cowboys," Gibbs said. "He hasn't gotten much work lately, and to get thrown in like that against the Cowboys . . .

"He hadn't even played a down. I knew he'd struggle, and we weren't as smooth with him {as with Rubbert}, but he really kept things together."

Robinson, whose last high-profile moments as a football player came as a Tennessee Volunteer, did more than that. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 152 yards in his relief appearance.

He came in to face the Cowboys without even the benefit of a few warmup tosses. "Ed got right up, came to the sideline and said he was dizzy," Robinson said.

Robinson didn't commit any costly errors. His two interceptions were far enough from his own goal line that they were inconsequential. It wasn't the stuff dreams are made of, but it could be a start.

And a new start is paramount to Robinson. He has already served time in the Knox County (Tenn.) Penal Farm for attempting to deliver cocaine. And the terms of his probation say he must return and serve approximately 90 more days.

Robinson said tonight he didn't know what would happen with the Tennessee Penal system, adding, "I just take it one day at a time; I don't try to think three days ahead."

He can stay out of prison as long as he is playing football, but that decision will be largely in the hands of the Redskins' coaches and management. Was his performance tonight enough to convince the Redskins or another team to keep him now that the regular players are returning to work?

"I hope so," Robinson said. "It's just three quarters, but I hope it's enough for me to catch on. I never lost hope {of playing}. I prayed every day."

"This has been a wonderful thing," Robinson said, growing somewhat wistful.

By the time Robinson began getting dressed, the noise in the locker room had subsided considerably. Rubbert, his injured wing held tightly against his side, was seeing normally again. And things were coming clearly into focus.

"I'm sitting here, and it's starting to be a downer," Rubbert said. "We've been together, we've been through a lot. We've won three games. We kept the team at the top {of the NFC East}. It's been a great bunch of guys and we've had a blast. Now it's the end. Maybe we'll see them again, down the road sometime. Maybe, in a couple of years, we could have a reunion or something."