Last Tuesday, Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green went to Coach Joe Gibbs and told him he could play in the NFC championship game.

"He said he didn't need a {pain-killing} shot," Gibbs said yesterday after his team beat Minnesota, 17-10, to advance to Super Bowl XXII.

On Wednesday, Green went back to Gibbs. "He said, 'I'll take the shot,' " Gibbs recalled.

Green took the shot for his sprained rib cartilage and took part in all but five defensive plays, keeping Vikings wide receiver Anthony Carter under wraps most of the game and making sure running back Darrin Nelson did not hang onto the potential game-tying touchdown pass with 52 seconds to play.

Green wore a pad on his right side, but appeared as chipper as ever through much of the game.

"I was less than 100 percent mentally because I was dealing with something {the injury}," Green said.

Green, recently selected to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his five-year career, made his most important play against Nelson. Covering Carter initially on the play, Green dashed toward the corner of the end zone, where linebacker Monte Coleman was defending Nelson. Minnesota quarterback Wade Wilson threw to Nelson and Green charged toward the ball, hitting Nelson shortly after the ball arrived.

"I felt like I hit him simultaneously and was involved in causing the ball to be dropped," Green said. "But don't say I said I caused it."

Green said his deep religious beliefs carried him through this week. He called himself a "wimp" for wondering about being able to play with pain. He said "prayers" and "a miracle" allowed him to play.

Green left the game with 13 minutes to play, but returned with 5:04 left. Being on the bench, he said, was unbearable.

"There was more pressure on the sideline than there was out on the field," Green said. "Everyone on the team from the highest person on the totem pole to the lowest was out of his mind."

Green also returned punts -- or at least tried to. He made one fair catch, returned one punt for one yard, and muffed one, which fellow cornerback Brian Davis recovered. Green later was replaced by Eric Yarber. It was Green's 52-yard punt return that beat Chicago, 21-17, in the NFC semifinal a week ago.