A number of people who follow the Redskins didn't sleep very well Sunday night.

Their agony came from the visual replays of Washington not being able to make a first down with two minutes to go in the game, followed by baby-face Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms hitting wide-open Edell Shepherd for a 30-yard touchdown pass and Mike Alstott scoring on a controversial two-point conversion for a 36-35 Tampa Bay victory.

For the more enlightened, an afternoon at the Folger savoring "Much Ado About Nothing" or enriching the children by exposing them to the Capitol Woodwind Quintet at the Spectrum Theatre in Rosslyn seemed so much more civilized than having a child hear a parent threaten the life of Redskins cornerback, Walt Harris, beaten on the last touchdown.

In one home, I know someone who, with three minutes to go in the game, was asked by a spouse about dinner plans that night only to vilify the spouse with so many profanities the spouse was heard calling information for the phone number of uber-divorce lawyer Marna Tucker.

If Tucker wasn't working, LaVar "I'm Back and Loving It" Arrington was, making like Spiderman and catapulting himself into the air in hopes of meeting Alstott at 3,000 feet. Unfortunately for LaVar and the Redskins, Alstott never left his feet, or crossed the goal line (at least, that's what Coach Joe Gibbs said). But the officials said Alstott did cross the line, ruining more dinners than the "closed" sign on the front door of "eatZi's" in Rockville. "It was like a dagger to the heart," John Thompson, father of the Georgetown basketball coach, told his WTEM listeners Monday. "I was sick."

My friend from the health club, Veronica, who eight weeks ago sobbed with joy when the Redskins came from behind to beat the Cowboys, said she stared at her dinner Sunday night, too upset to eat, cry or rationalize.

"I may have to recap my teeth after that one," said Gregg Williams, who runs the defense for the Redskins and made it one of the best in the NFL until the last month when his guys began getting killed by the big play. "My father called me after the game Sunday and asked me if he needed him to come up and give me a hand.

"Two of the most important jobs in this game are protecting your own passer and keep from getting beat deep. I have do my job better. Last Sunday, our guys lost focus and got beat deep. When you're under stress -- depending on the time, score and situation -- you have to keep your focus. We didn't do that."

Did Williams sleep Sunday night? "Not much," he said. "But I knew on Monday I'd have our guys' attention."

Gibbs didn't sleep much either, knowing "that one got away" and that he felt the Redskins lost because of several bad calls.

It All Starts With the Preps

Lots of big high school football games in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. this coming week, including today's 5 p.m. WCAC title game between DeMatha and Good Counsel at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis and the annual Turkey Bowl between Dunbar and Coolidge at 11 a.m. Thursday at Eastern High School.

Touched base with Coach Bob Milloy, whose Good Counsel team plays DeMatha only two weeks after losing to the Stags, 22-21, when a last-second injury to one of his players gave DeMatha a second chance at a field goal that won the game.

Milloy, 62, has been coaching since 1961 ("been through nine presidents"), starting out in CYO, coaching the JV team at DeMatha and getting his first head job at Whitman in 1970. Since then he's coached at Springbrook for 18 years, Sherwood for nine and five at Good Counsel. His record is 301-96-1.

"I love the kids, the practices, the games and the feeling you get when you win when you aren't supposed to," he said. Last year, DeMatha beat Good Counsel at the end, as it did two weeks ago, "when we were ahead with the clock reading 0:00," Milloy said. "I told our kids, 'Move on.' We've got another chance."

Thirty minutes west on Route 50, at FedEx Field, a former Milloy pupil at Springbrook, Shawn Springs, will play cornerback for the Redskins against the Oakland Raiders. "Coach Milloy taught me a lot," Springs said. "He was tough but fair. Old school."

Touching the Bases

* Don't remember the last time -- if ever -- there were so many all-stars playing professionally here at once. Capitals rookie Alex Ovechkin is so hot he's already one of the best players in the NHL, worthy of more attention than he's gotten in town; the Redskins' Santana Moss has a shot at the Pro Bowl, as does Sean Taylor, with LaVar still a star in my eyes; Gilbert Arenas has been just sensational for the Wiz; he and teammate Antawn Jamison already have all-star trophies; Nats pitchers Chad Cordero and Livan Hernandez were all-stars; and Freddy Adu is an emerging teenage star to many, if not his coach.

* Nats Update: Bethesda developer Theodore N. "Ted" Lerner apparently will take former Atlanta sports whiz Stan Kasten into his group, with the blessing of Commish Bud Selig, to vie with the Malek-Zeinst and Smulyan groups, among others, to buy the Nationals. Kasten has a good rep in the sports world; Lerner has a good rep in the money world. Smulyan has been spending so much time here let's just put him on a ballot to run for something. . . . Negotiations between city officials and MLB suits for a stadium lease continue, with Selig promising "a resolution" and sale of team "soon." Bud, my man, please do the lease and sell the team before the cost of a new stadium hits a billion dollars and my three sons commit me to a state-run facility in Boca for even caring about this stuff.

* College basketball underway, with Maryland, George Washington and Georgetown all solid contenders to make the NCAA Division I men's tournament, with George Mason a long shot and American's Eagles needing to make students forget about their former prez. "Everyone is better," said Gary Williams, whose Terrapins have four seniors. In women's competition, George Washington and Maryland will be strong. All this basketball info was supplied by Feinstein, whose book on the 2-7 Ravens makes him the logical choice to succeed Brian Billick.

* Finally: George Vecsey wrote a wonderful column in the New York Times last week on Bob Sheppard, who is retiring after 50 years as the public address announcer of the New York Giants. Local screamers and their bosses ought to be forced to listen to Sheppard's elegantly stated announcements -- without the blatant rooting, hucksterism and boosterism that unfortunately have become part of the sports scene here and elsewhere.

Have a comment or question? Reach me at talkback@washpost.com.

Good sport Mark Brunell congratulates Tampa Bay's Mike Alstott, who beat Washington with a disputed two-point conversion. Redskins fans might not have been as generous.