CHICAGO, JAN. 10 -- In the second quarter of his team's 21-17 victory over Chicago, Washington defensive end Charles Mann saw teammate Neal Olkewicz tackle Bears quarterback Jim McMahon around the knees.
McMahon got his pass off before he was hit. It was a 14-yard touchdown to wide receiver Ron Morris. The Bears led, 14-0.
But McMahon climbed to his feet very slowly. He had hit the artificial turf at Soldier Field awfully hard. He held his left shoulder as he went off.
"I noticed that he ran off holding his shoulder and I told all the other defensive players," Mann said after the game in which he had three sacks and eight total tackles.
"After that, we were trying to get to him as much as we could. The two good balls he threw, he was on his back and never saw himself complete the throws."
McMahon never left the game, but he was not nearly as effective in the second half as he was in the first. He said the shoulder hurt for a while, but felt better as the game wore on.
However, by the second half, the Redskins defense was in control of the game, allowing the Chicago running game just 25 yards on 11 carries, intercepting three passes and giving up just a field goal in the final 30 minutes.
It accomplished this by playing by the numbers: 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, 4-6. Those are the defenses Washington played in the second half to confuse the Bears. The Redskins had dabbled in defensive delusion earlier this season in a loss at Miami, and they did it again today, with better results. The five-man front stopped Walter Payton and his cohorts; the three-man front allowed Washington's defensive backs to flood the secondary and catch three of McMahon's passes.
The Redskins also started to decipher the plan of the Chicago offense.
"Early in the game, on third and long, we were thinking pass, and they ran," said Mann. "On second and long, they ran out of the shotgun. You rarely see that. We were off-balance. We couldn't get into sync, into a rhythm.
"But, when we got things more settled, I thought to myself, 'Now I've got an opportunity to make something happen.' "
That Mann did. Each of the last two times Chicago had the ball, Mann got a sack. He caught McMahon for an eight-yard loss one play before he threw an interception to nickel back Dennis Woodberry with 2:39 left to play. Then, Mann sacked McMahon for a loss of seven yards with one minute to play. The Bears ran two more plays, but never got a first down, and the game was over.
"Until yesterday, the Bears were talking about how much they wanted to play San Francisco in the championship game," Mann said.
"Then, the talk was about playing Minnesota. The Bears didn't respect us last year, and even though we beat them, they still didn't respect us this year. Well, I think we caused them to respect us next time.
"This feels good, real good. I didn't think they respected us. It's sweet to win a game like this."