EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., OCT. 28 -- Stan Humphries' left shoulder hurt so badly that he couldn't pull his sport coat on. He had to be helped out of the Washington Redskins training room because he was knocked woozy after throwing the late interception that Everson Walls returned for a New York Giants touchdown. He leaned against a wall as he spoke to reporters, and then someone came up and allowed Humphries to lean on him as he slowly walked out of the locker room.
Along with the spoils of victory, there are the heartaches and headaches of defeat. Many of the aches belonged to the Redskins' young quarterback today at Giants Stadium after a 21-10 loss to the Giants.
After hurting his left shoulder on the third play of the game, Humphries carried on admirably, completing 11 passes in a row in the second half until the 12th bounced off the chest of Earnest Byner in the end zone and into the arms of New York's Greg Jackson. With New York leading, 14-10, at the time, a touchdown that would have put the Redskins ahead with 6:51 remaining instead became a Giants touchback. Soon after, the Giants scored a touchdown on Walls' interception return.
"I thought I had a touchdown," Humphries said of his pass to Byner on second and goal at the three. "It was something that happened. It bounced off his chest. They made the play. At that point, we were taking it to them."
Humphries paused and perhaps thought of Byner, the hard-luck running back who fumbled at the goal line in an AFC championship game a few years ago to take a potential victory away from Cleveland and hand it to Denver.
"I threw the ball hard," the quarterback said. "Maybe too hard. I've got to have some touch on the ball. That was pretty hard from that distance. It goes both ways."
Washington Coach Joe Gibbs had kind words for Humphries.
"Stan competed and did a heck of a job," said Gibbs. "He played hard and that's all we ask. He's still learning. He gave us a chance to win."
The irony for Humphries, who threw six interceptions in two games against the Giants, and the Redskins was that things had gone exactly Washington's way once the second half began with the Giants leading, 14-3.
The Redskins took the second-half kickoff (after Walter Stanley's 37-yard return) and drove 54 yards in 10 plays to Humphries' five-yard touchdown run with 9:23 left in the third quarter. Three times in the drive, Humphries threw to tight end Don Warren.
This was significant. By game's end, Warren, a 12-year veteran who at 34 is the oldest Redskin, had his best day as a professional, catching 10 passes for 66 yards.
Gibbs said he decided at halftime to have Humphries dump off passes to Warren because the Giants were having great success denying the ball to the Washington wide receivers by using deep zone coverage. Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders combined for four receptions for 33 yards today. Warren, who caught just 15 passes for 167 yards all last season, was twice as productive as all three men in this game.
"I don't even know how many catches I had," Warren said. "What was it? Eight for 30 yards?"
It says everything about Warren that he didn't know, and didn't care.
"I didn't anticipate this much," he said. "It was a game plan thing. If you just watch film, I'd be running down the middle scot-free. They seemed to leave me alone. They play a deep zone and I knew I would catch four or five balls. I don't think they adjusted. We have three great wide receivers and they were just letting me go."
Gibbs said the strategy was obvious: If you never throw to Warren, they don't expect you to throw to Warren.
"I'm sure everyone knows we don't throw to Don Warren very much," Gibbs said. "That's a fact. Don Warren is a blocker for us."
Warren said the strategy shift was a little bit Washington's doing and a little bit New York's. It was in the game plan this week and Gibbs simply decided to use it extensively in the second half. New York's defense made it all the more imperative to do so.
"He made some nickel-and-dime yardage, but it didn't hurt us," said Giants linebacker Steve DeOssie.
As it turned out, throwing to Warren didn't win the game for the Redskins, but it could have.
"It's frustrating we didn't win today," said Warren. "But now we'll just chase the Giants. I know the personalities of this team. I know all the guys, and we're not going to give up."