The Washington Redskins made it through the regular season without being besieged by numerous injuries. But less than 30 minutes into their first playoff game in seven years yesterday, the team lost left tackle Andy Heck to a torn left hamstring and saw running back Stephen Davis go down with a sprained right knee.
Heck, who was walking with the help of crutches afterward, is almost certainly lost for the rest of the season. An MRI exam is scheduled for today.
Davis, who was playing for the first time since spraining his left ankle on Dec. 19, said he intends to be ready for Saturday's NFC semifinal game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coach Norv Turner underscored the point, awarding Davis a game ball for his efforts in yesterday's 27-13 victory over the Detroit Lions, but making it contingent, he said with a grin, on Davis playing next weekend.
"I feel I can be ready next week," said Davis, who had 119 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries before leaving yesterday's game.
Heck tore his left hamstring when he was hit in the knee as he blocked for the extra point following the Redskins' first touchdown, which gave them a 7-0 lead roughly five minutes into the game.
"Somebody was driving into my knee with their helmet on the extra point with my foot caught in the grass," Heck said. "It hyperextended and tore the hamstring."
Heck was helped off the field by teammates and was replaced by fifth-year tackle Kipp Vickers.
"There's nothing to do but ice it and rest it," Heck said. "My sense is it won't be ready next week. I'll do everything I can to be ready the week after that."
Heck, 33, a graduate of W.T. Woodson High in Fairfax, was picked up in the offseason after being waived by Chicago and won the starting job by beating out last season's starter, Joe Patton, during training camp. Some questioned whether Heck could hold up a full season. But he filled the job admirably, starting all 16 games at the offensive line's most difficult position. He was awarded a game ball for his efforts in the 48-22 victory over Chicago in Week 7.
Turner had few options once Heck went down. Backup guard Brad Badger, who started 10 games at left tackle last season, had been made inactive prior to the game because of a sprained ankle. Jamie Brown, the Redskins' backup right tackle, was also inactive.
Vickers (6 feet 2, 298 pounds) saw limited action at tackle in 11 games during the regular season. He was inactive for Weeks 11 and 12 after suffering a concussion during the 23-13 victory over the New York Giants.
The offensive line was pivotal this season, holding opponents to 31 sacks. The previous season, the unit yielded a team-record 61 sacks.
Davis sprained his knee on a one-yard run, with the Redskins holding a 17-0 lead. He was tackled by safety Mark Carrier on the Lions 4 and was lying on his back with his feet in the air, when defensive tackle Dan Owens appeared to hook Davis's right ankle.
Running back Skip Hicks took over once Davis went down, gaining 46 yards on 23 carries.