The Washington Redskins used no tricks, no fancy alignments and no new personnel in key spots yesterday. Yet they were confident the story of the NFL playoffs before yesterday -- Minnesota wide receiver Anthony Carter -- could be controlled.

All those who had been convinced the past two weeks that the Vikings were a team of destiny after they changed their offensive philosophy and centered things around Carter kept waiting for Carter to break the big play at RFK yesterday. They kept waiting and waiting, and, after the Redskins came away with a 17-10 victory, even Carter could not quite believe he was not a factor late in the game.

Washington cornerback Darrell Green was all over him on a third down play from the Redskins 6 with 63 seconds to go. Green helped sway Carter out of the fourth down play on which Green then came up and helped jar the ball from Darrin Nelson, who was the intended receiver of a pass near the goal line.

Even though Carter had not done significant damage for 59 minutes, the Redskins had no doubts who could be the one to ruin their day.

"Anthony Carter has had a great year," said Redskins free safety Todd Bowles. "When you are down to the end, you go to your main man. We weren't guessing who it would be."

On third and fourth down, however, Carter, who set three playoff records in two previous Vikings upset victories, was no factor and the Redskins earned a trip to the Super Bowl.

On third down, he lined up on the outside right and was to be the prime target cutting across the end zone. But he could not shake cornerback Darrell Green, who had him in man-to-man coverage, and quarterback Wade Wilson had to overthrow the end zone because he could not find another receiver.

Green forced Carter to the back of the end zone on fourth down, and then came up to blast the ball away at the goal line from Darrin Nelson, who had come out of the backfield as an intended receiver.

The Redskins' success protecting against Carter with the game on the line was very much like the success they had on him most of the day.

A former Michigan and USFL star who averaged eight catches and 153 yards receiving (19.1 yards per catch) in two previous playoff games, he caught seven yesterday, but for an average of 12.1 yards. He did not have a reception for more than 23 yards.

"As long as we kept him from scoring a touchdown, we accomplished what we wanted to on him," said Redskins strong safety Alvin Walton.

In doing what the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers failed to do the past two weeks, the Redskins relied on few tricks to stop the NFL's hottest receiver.

"The idea today was pretty much get pressure on the quarterback and stay in our man {-to-man} coverage," said Pro Bowl cornerback Barry Wilburn, who at times took Carter as Green went to wide receiver Leo Lewis. "We saw that Carter likes to run 'out' routes and to the corners, and we didn't want to let him do that. We were willing to give him the inside and the quick posts, and we knew he would catch some passes. We just wanted to be there when he did, because even on those patterns, if you aren't with him, he will be gone."

Bowles said he shaded toward Carter's side whenever possible, but the coverage was no different than that used on Chicago wide receiver Willie Gault in Washington's 21-17 playoff victory a week earlier.

Carter, who complained late in the regular season that he was not being used enough, faulted the Vikings rather than Washington's defense for his lack of contributions.

"They just didn't call my play in the second half and in the third quarter, not any time," he said. "I don't know what the deal was, but they coach and I play. I think I played real well."