If eyebrows were raised when the Washington Redskins used a second-round draft choice on kicker Chip Lohmiller in 1988, it now looks like one of the best picks Bobby Beathard ever made.

Lohmiller yesterday kicked four field goals, including a career-best 55-yarder as the Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys, 19-15.

Lohmiller is seven for eight this season, with his only miss coming when San Francisco's Charles Haley blocked one last week.

Lohmiller has been virtually automatic inside 40 yards (32 of 34) and he set one of his summer goals of being more successful from outside the 40 (three of 12 last season).

"It's just a matter of kicking them from that distance and feeling comfortable seeing it from there," he said.

The Redskins debated whether to let him kick yesterday's long one. It was seven yards longer than his previous longest -- 48 against New Orleans last year -- and special teams coach Wayne Sevier convinced Coach Joe Gibbs the kick was makeable.

It came with 2:36 left in the third quarter and gave the Redskins a 12-6 lead.

"I was happy to get to try a long one," Lohmiller said. "I got it good and it just carried through there. I think the wind helped it a little bit."

Lohmiller said he got a better hit on a 44-yarder into the wind against Philadelphia last year. But this one was good enough.

"I worried about hitting it too high," he said. "In a game like this, it's important to get all the chances you can and I want to help as much as I can."

Lohmiller refuses any evaluation of his kicking or of what kind of groove he's in. He said he keeps his head down, goes into games and kicks it straight.

"I'm just kicking it," he said. "It's no secret. It feels good. I'm smooth and comfortable and every opportunity is important. I don't know that I'm ever going to get one of those real long ones, but I'd like to be reliable from around 50. I hit the ball pretty well all of last year and it carried over into preseason. I don't even want to think about the reasons."

The hard thing about what he does is that when he's in a slump he has no one to rely on. He and punter Ralf Mojsiejenko practice together and are the only voices each has about the other.

Lohmiller said he prepared for this season, not by doing any particular strengthening exercises, but by going out and kicking longer field goals.

"It's not what people think," he said. "You don't make your leg stronger, then kick longer field goals. You just have to go out and kick them and feel good about doing it from that distance."

57: Steve Cox vs. Seahawks, Sept. 28, 1986 (Won, 19-14).

55: Chip Lohmiller vs. Cowboys, Sept. 23, 1990 (Won, 19-15).

55: Steve Cox vs. Eagles, Sept. 7, 1986 (Won, 41-14).

54: Mark Moseley vs. Eagles, Nov. 13, 1977 (Won, 17-14).

53: Mark Moseley vs. Falcons, Sept. 30, 1979 (Won, 16-7).

53: Mark Moseley vs. Cowboys, Oct. 16, 1977 (Lost, 34-16).