As the Washington Redskins lined up for Brett Conway's 31-yard, game-winning field goal yesterday, third-string quarterback Casey Weldon ran onto the field and reminded Conway and holder Matt Turk that if the snap was bad, it was only third down and they could fall on the ball and try the kick again on fourth down.
"I didn't pay much attention," Conway said later. "I was so focused, a naked guy could have run across the field and I wouldn't have noticed."
The snap from Dan Turk was fine. Matt Turk caught the snap and got the hold in place, and Conway drilled his first game-winning field goal in the NFL. His first could have come three weeks ago against the Dallas Cowboys, but Matt Turk mishandled the snap that time. Conway never got the chance to make that kick, and the Redskins lost in overtime after squandering a 21-point, fourth-quarter lead.
Conway said the mishap against the Cowboys didn't cross his mind as he prepared for the game-winning kick yesterday.
"That was out of my mind two days after it happened," he said. "I told myself to just do what I've been doing in practice, just kick it like I've been kicking."
His day had begun with meeting a young cancer patient before the game, and it had included Dan Turk telling him during the second half that the outcome would be decided by a 50-yard field goal by him.
"I was nervous before I started warming up," Conway said. "After I started warming up, I wasn't nervous. It's minuscule compared to a lot of things happening in the world."
Conway has converted all six of his field goal attempts this season after winning the team's place-kicking job in a training-camp competition with Cary Blanchard and Jeff Hall.
The Redskins were one of the leading supporters for the return of instant replay, and it's paying off. Eight days ago, a reversal in their favor cost the New York Jets a late touchdown, and yesterday against the Carolina Panthers the Redskins got a reversal that kept them in the game.
The Panthers led 36-35 when they apparently recovered Brian Mitchell's fumble on a punt return with just over four minutes remaining. But the Redskins challenged, and the officials ruled that Mitchell's knee had been down long before he fumbled. The Redskins kept possession at their 19-yard line, and drove to Conway's winning kick.
"I know I was down, but you worry that the ref is not going to go against his friend," Mitchell said. "Norv was worried because they kept showing the replay after my knee was down. Replay is needed in this league. We saw that last year. Referees make mistakes. They're human. I told the ref. He said, 'No way was your knee down.' I didn't want to be the one to make a mistake that cost us the game."
Mitchell had fumbled on a kickoff earlier in the game, leading to a Carolina touchdown. But he denied that he'd made a mistake by fielding the fourth-quarter punt in traffic, after the ball had bounced.
"I was trying to stop the ball from going too far back," he said. "Irving Fryar told me I'd made a smart play to pick it up."
Wayne Sevier, 58, Redskins special teams coach under Joe Gibbs, died Saturday of a heart attack.
Sevier came with Gibbs from the San Diego Chargers for the 1981 season. He coached in Washington through 1986, and again from 1989 to 1993.
Sevier was with the San Diego Chargers three times, including the final 15 games of last season. He was not retained when Mike Riley took over as head coach.