The Redskins made their ESPN debut last night in Miami, and Washington-area viewers got a heavy dose of the cable network's approach of we'll-give-you- 65-seconds-of-talk-for-every-60 seconds-of-air-time, which is sort of the broadcasting equivalent of the run-on sentence, a phenomenon that newspaper readers are familiar with -- although, hey, it's not the type of thing you're going to see all that often, and who's to say that broadcasters shouldn't be able to broadcast as much as they want?

ESPN has brought back meaning to the mute button.

ESPN's attitude toward the NFL viewer is this: We're going to stand you up in the corner with your hands tied behind your back and body-punch you for 3 1/2 consecutive hours while showing you wonderful pictures to take your mind off the pain.

Indeed, the broadcasting team of Mike Patrick, Roy Firestone and Larry Csonka left us punch-drunk last night, but overall, those of us still on our feet at the end could take solace in ESPN's otherwise solid production.

In its first year of NFL coverage, ESPN continues to prove it can handle the big assignments in the same manner the networks do.

The always excitable Patrick executed his play-by-play adequately.

Firestone picked his spots as well as he has all season; the glib commentator, discussing Washington's smallish receivers, said, "I think the Redskins draft receivers out of Toys-R-Us."

And guest analyst Csonka was a bit improved over his ESPN appearance seven weeks ago; at least he sounded better, proving that if you're going to say next to nothing (as he did), you may as well say it well.

Halftime was nice: Chris Berman's lightning sweep through NFL highlights, Tom Jackson's brief analysis and Pete Axthelm's always literate presence, plus a look back at Csonka and Jim Kiick during their Dolphins glory days. The lowlight was Firestone asking Kiick of Csonka, "Is this guy to your left the epitome of a man's man?"

Then, of course, it was back to the second half and ESPN's ill-fated guest analyst concept with Csonka. He came, he saw, he csonked us. But at least he showed a few glimpses this time around of analysis and humor.

And at least we know that next year, when ESPN returns with another eight regular season NFL games, the guest analyst probably will be a knockout victim of common sense.