MINNEAPOLIS, DEC. 26 -- Getting benched is old hat now for Jay Schroeder, the Washington Redskins' quarterback who today, during the Redskins' 27-24 overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome, had better luck calling passes than throwing them.

It was Schroeder who whispered in Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs' ear to try a "hitch" pass when the Redskins -- trailing by seven points -- faced third down and one at their 49-yard line with 1:56 to play. At the time, Gibbs was thinking about an "out" pattern or some real fancy play. But out of the blue came Schroeder, who was supposed to be feeling blue.

The play worked for a 51-yard, game-tying touchdown to Ricky Sanders. So, it was the quarterback who'd been hooked who got the Redskins off the hook today.

In six weeks, Schroeder apparently did a lot more growing up than anyone thought possible. Six weeks ago, benched at home in the second quarter of a game against the Lions, Schroeder folded up his arms and his tent, avoiding reporters.

Later, Schroeder explained Gibbs had "shocked" him by benching him, but the more he thought about it, the more he prepared himself for the next time.

That next time was today, when Gibbs went to reliever Doug Williams with 6:51 remaining in the third quarter. At first, Schroeder did his arm-folding act, but then he walked toward Gibbs. Later, he actually smiled after a Williams touchdown pass. Then, he listened in on Gibbs' play calls.

"I think, right now on our football team, the difference from six or seven weeks ago is that guys were upset before with their own personal situations," Gibbs said today. "Jay's response {against Detroit}, that was normal. {But} today what Jay did was get right there by my side, the whole time talking and talking to Doug and to me about play selection and ideas. And what that says is Jay just wants to win."

Schroeder has gained enough insight to figure out Williams is the Redskins' quarterback now. "I'll have to sit back and watch for a while," Schroeder said today.

"I think {Williams will start}," he added. "I think the way he brought the team back, he'll be the starter. . . . Why? For the same reason when {Gibbs} announced I was going to be the starter after the Giants game. {Williams} brought the team back. He rallied the team, and that's what you're looking for. If he starts in the playoff game and does well, he'll play. And if the coach thinks he needs to shake something up, I'll be ready to play."

Schroeder had done a lot of thinking about this flap, it seems a lot more than he or anyone would let on. After being benched against Detroit, he said he grew angry because "I wasn't expecting it."

He said he expected it this time because "I wasn't making plays."

Today, he threw an interception on his first pass. He had looked at Clarence Verdin, seen he was open and looked the other way to fool the safety. When Schroeder looked back to Verdin, he misjudged where the receiver would be, and he also slipped. Issiac Holt intercepted, setting up a Minnesota touchdown.

And even though he was benched as quarterback, Schroeder still had to hold for field goals and extra points -- a job that's not always fun against the Vikings. (The Redskins missed three extra points against the Vikings last season). On Ali Haji-Sheikh's first extra point, the kick was blocked and barely swerved through. Then with 46 seconds left in regulation time, Haji-Sheikh had a chance to win the game. However, Schroeder bobbled the snap, and Haji-Shiekh shanked the kick.

"The snap was a little bit up and out, and I bobbled it," Schroeder said. "I didn't catch it real clean. I bobbled it and got it down, and I think it shook {Haji-Shiekh} a little bit."

Snapper David Jones said he needs to see the films first before deciding whether his snap was bad, but he added: "I'm sure whatever Jay says is right."

Wherever Schroeder looked today, there seemed to be a former Redskins quarterback. Sonny Jurgensen did postgame interviews for a radio station. Joe Theismann did the television broadcast and later visited the locker room. Jurgensen said he might not have handled the benching as well as Schroeder has, and perhaps Theismann would agree.

"The situation's changed," Schroeder said when asked if this benching felt like the one against Detroit.

Assistant coach Dan Henning said Schroeder was a better quarterback on the field after the first benching, but the coaching staff was disturbed last week when the Redskins moved the ball so well against Miami, but could not score many points. Today's game was looking much the same way -- until Gibbs switched to Williams.

"Problem with the quarterback position is that they get all the credit when we win and all the blame . . . well, you've heard that one before," Henning said.

Redskins players apparently aren't worried about their uncertain quarterback situation heading into the playoffs.

"No!" defensive end Dexter Manley screamed when asked if he was concerned.

Gibbs said he made the quarterback switch on "feel," and he said today he was "too tired" to decide who'd start at quarterback in the playoffs. An announcement should be made Wednesday, but Schroeder already has voted for Williams and knows very well where the clipboard is.