FOXBORO, MASS., DEC. 15 -- Mark Rypien has always said Washington Redskins quarterbacks are measured differently and that he couldn't be considered the man until he takes them to the playoffs.

He did that this afternoon in his 27th career start, a 25-10 victory over New England that gave the Redskins an NFC wild-card slot.

But it was the weirdest of days. He threw a career-low 11 passes and completed five as the Redskins played conservatively on a cold, wet afternoon.

"The weather wasn't fit to let it fly," he said. "The ball didn't really feel that heavy, but we got a quick lead and controlled it this way. We felt we could stay conservative, and that's what we did. We had some other things we wanted to do, but the weather just wouldn't allow it. It became a matter of lining up and matching up with them in the running game, and we did that pretty well."

Koch Hurts Knee

Defensive end Markus Koch sprained his left knee late in the first half. He was walking gingerly after the game and will be reevaluated Monday.

It didn't appear to be serious. Fred Stokes, who'd been used only on passing downs since injuring his shoulder in preseason, replaced Koch and played the rest of the game. . . .

With two games left, Earnest Byner already has had the best season of his career, rushing for 1,031 yards. Only four other Redskins have had 1,000-yard seasons, and Byner has a chance at the best -- John Riggins's 1,347 yards in 1983. Byner needs 316 yards the last two games to tie that.

It's a tall order, but today he rushed for 149. Since Gerald Riggs was hurt five games ago, Byner has averaged 28 carries and 116 yards a game. He gained 116 vs. New Orleans, 39 vs. Dallas, 157 vs. Miami and 121 vs. Chicago.

"I tried not to think about that stuff too much," he said, "but the offensive line has been reminding me. They've mentioned that we have a chance for the record, and that would be fine. Getting into the playoffs and doing well is more important." . . .

Today's crowd of 22,286 is the NFL's smallest this season and smallest for the Patriots since a 1969 AFL game with the Dolphins drew 19,000. The Patriots had hoped for 35,000, but sold only 30,734 tickets. There were 8,448 no-shows. They have four of the five smallest crowds in the NFL this season. . . .

Art Monk has caught passes in 114 straight games. He got two today for 25 yards. . . . The Redskins sacked Tommy Hodson five times. Eric Williams had two, and Koch, Charles Mann and Andre Collins once apiece, giving the Redskins 39 this season. Stokes leads with 6 1/2, followed by Mann's 5 1/2 and 4 by Marshall and Collins. . . .

The Patriots haven't won a game in 90 days. The Red Sox won their last game 73 days ago.