As far as anyone knows, the Redskins replacement team did not gather yesterday for an alumni dinner. But -- wherever they are out there -- they must be loving it.

They are missed. The crowd at RFK Stadium said so. Let it be known that with 14:26 remaining in yesterday's game, when Kelvin Bryant had the indecency to drop a pass from Jay Schroeder, those hard-core Redskins fans got harder.

"We Want the Scabs! We Want the Scabs! We Want the Scabs!"

Redskins guard R.C. Thielemann heard all the ruckus, but he says the crowd's words were muffled, and he couldn't quite make out what they were saying.

"Oh, they were saying, 'We Want the Scabs?'" Thielemann said. "Oh . . I wasn't sure."

Meanwhile, tackle Mark May confirmed that, yes, he understood exactly what they were chanting. And he says it "ticked" him off.

"I think all the guys got ticked off about that," May said. "You're playing in front of your home crowd, and they want to bring back the scabs. I mean, it's not too fulfilling."

But there, on the far end of the Redskins sideline, stood H-back Craig McEwen, who was -- if you want the absolute truth -- fulfilled. They wanted him! Just a Monday night ago, he was a replacement player. Now, six days later, he was wearing a post-strike Redskins jersey. Remember Lionel Vital? And Anthony Allen? And Derrick Sheppard? And Skip Lane? McEwen was the only active one left, the sole representative to carry on the tradition.

The crowd wanted him.

"I'm sure those other guys, wherever they are, are smiling," McEwen said afterward. "I'm sure they're saying, 'Bring us back! Bring us back!' Of course, they know they won't come back. I guess we won them {the fans} over. In a sense, I got a good feeling standing there. They liked us. But, then again, I'm part of the real team now, and that's in the past."

Of course, the regular Redskins know that cheers are sometimes only a touchdown pass away. When Bryant had the decency to catch a scoring pass from Schroeder late in the fourth quarter yesterday, the hard-core Redskins fans were back again, and Coach Joe Gibbs acknowledged how much it meant.

Afterward, Gibbs made it a point to thank the fans for their support even though they only supplied a quarter's worth.

"When they came alive, they brought our team right with them," Gibbs said. "The Jets couldn't hear a signal in the fourth quarter. It was the old RFK again. In order for us to be good, that's what we have to have."

It was the team consensus that yesterday's booing was not the worst ever, but probably the loudest since a 1983 Monday night Dallas game when the Redskins blew a 23-3 lead and lost, 31-30.

Schroeder, first of all, says he was not affected, though he admits he heard all the noise.

"When I threw one in the dirt," he says, "they called me every name in the book. But, hey, the fans are gonna do that. We've got to expect that the next couple of weeks. Hey, they had every right to boo."

May remembers that 1983 Dallas game when the RFK crowd got nasty, and there were similar days in 1981 when the Redskins started 0-5 in their first season under Gibbs.

But former Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen says he's heard worse booing than yesterday's.

"Not even close," he said. "Remember, we used to lose a lot."

Generally, the Redskins anticipated all that noise yesterday, though no one showed up with ear plugs.

"You could've had many sleepless nights thinking what this day was gonna be like," linebacker Rich Milot said. "But, you know, I didn't think it was as bad as I thought it would be."

None of the Redskins seemed to hold a grudge against the RFK crowd.

Linebacker Neal Olkewicz, the team player representative, said, "Listen, I thought they'd boo us like the Dallas fans booed Danny White and Tony Dorsett."

Defensive tackle Dave Butz said: "If they want to boo and call for the scabs back, that's fine with me. I've been booed many a time, and it doesn't mean a thing. If you let it bother you, what kind of player are you, anyway?"

Thielemann: "Well, booing was something I heard quite a bit in Atlanta, but no one expected it happening here. I guess we probably deserved it. We had the odor of a cesspool for the first three quarters."

May: "We have the best fans, but -- after a while -- they could only take so much."

Linebacker Monte Coleman: "Ah, they didn't mean it."

Center Jeff Bostic: "What if we'd lost?"