October 14, 1991: Browns Tricky, But No Fooling: Redskins 7-0: Monk, Ervins, Marshall Key 42-17 Win

The Washington Redskins had known that an opposing quarterback would come to RFK Stadium some afternoon and get hot. They’d known some opposing running back would give them fits and that someone might pull out a trick play or two to try to stop the NFL’s hottest team.

It will be remembered as the day the unbeaten Redskins pushed their record to 7-0 for the first time in 51 years and only the second time ever. They’ve never been 8-0 and have a bye week before trying for that eighth victory Oct. 27 on the road against the New York Giants.

“I’m numb about what’s going on with this team,” running back Earnest Byner said. “I’ve never been associated with something like this. I’ve been on good teams, championship teams, but never a team going like this. We’re to the point where we go out and expect to win. We know we still have to take care of business, but we do expect to win. That’s a good feeling.”

It was also a day for Art Monk, who caught seven passes for 106 yards and moved into second place on the NFL’s all-time receiving list. He began the day with 749 catches, one behind Charlie Joiner. He tied Joiner with a three-yard grab on the Redskins’ second possession and passed him moments later with a diving 14-yard touchdown catch. He now trails only Steve Largent (819).

And it was a day that rookie running back Ricky Ervins got a prime-time opportunity and flashed onto the scene with a 46-yard kickoff return, and 133 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 13 second-half carries. He picked up the Redskins at a time when Byner was injured and the Browns had closed to 21-17. Ervins’s 12-yard touchdown run made it 28-17 and his 65-yard touchdown sprint provided the final points of the day.

Ervins wasn’t any better than quarterback Mark Rypien, who had his best day of the season, completing 16 of 22 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown.

”I don’t think you can play much better than Rip did,” Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said. “A couple of those throws were classics. He had a big-time game. That’s one of the best games he’s had here. He made a couple of great throws and was sharp. Everything he did was polished and sharp.”

And once more it was a day for defense. The Browns (2-4) beat up the Redskins for 389 yards, with Kosar getting 266 through the air and Mack gaining a combined 123. The Browns also ended the Redskins’ three-game shutout streak at home when Webster Slaughter caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from holder Brian Hansen out of field goal formation with 25 seconds left in the first quarter.

But the Redskins got a big break when, leading 21-7 late in the first half, Browns running back Eric Metcalf was hit by Wilber Marshall and fumbled the ball out of the end zone to give the Redskins the ball at their 20.

That play was the primary reason the Browns got only 10 points from their offense. In addition, the Redskins again got a slew of big plays, especially from Marshall, who continued a Pro Bowl-like season with an interception, a sack and the forced fumble. Charles Mann had a pair of sacks and Fred Stokes had one. The Browns were penalized 11 times; the Redskins not once.

Gibbs said the bye comes at a good time because “Everyone’s emotionally exhausted. We’re thrilled to be where we are. I’m looking forward to sleeping in {for} a few days.”

The Redskins also need the time off to give a number of injured players time to heal. Safety Terry Hoage was lost for the remainder of the season when he suffered a broken left arm with about 40 seconds remaining in the game. He was playing for Brad Edwards, who missed most of the game with a bruised shoulder. Ervins got a chance to play because Byner had a severely bruised right hand. The hand was so sore that team doctors ordered two sets of X-rays to see if it was broken. It wasn’t, but Byner perhaps needs the two weeks more than anyone.

But injuries, opposing quarterbacks and trick plays notwithstanding, the Redskins still found a way to win. After defense had won for them the past two weeks, the offense came to life and scored on six of 11 possessions. They rushed for a season-high 208 yards and had touchdown drives of 96, 80 and 72 yards.

They scored on their second possession after Brian Mitchell’s 20-yard punt return set things up at the 50. Washington needed nine plays to get in, with Rypien hitting three straight third-down passes -- six and 12 yards to Ricky Sanders, and 14 to Monk for the score with 3:33 left in the first quarter.

The Browns tied it, 7-7, on their next possession. Matt Stover lined up to kick a 28-yard field goal. But the Redskins didn’t notice that as Slaughter headed off the field with the rest of the offense, he stopped and stayed. All he had done was quietly wander over to the right sideline and line up as a wide receiver.

Hansen took the snap, stood up and lobbed the ball to Slaughter, who was standing completely alone at the goal line. That was a taste of their own medicine for the Redskins, who have had the best special teams play in the league.

”It was a well-designed play,” Redskins assistant Wayne Sevier said. “We work on that against the Eagles and we’ll have to start doing it against everyone now. That’s fine. You don’t run that play unless you’re prepared. We were rushing the cornerback from that side, so he didn’t see it.”

The Redskins had played 194 minutes -- almost 13 quarters -- without allowing an opponent to score at RFK.

”When we met {Saturday} night, we decided if they scored, fine,” Stokes said. “We weren’t going to get caught up in that. When they scored, that got it out of the way. We’re trying to focus on winning the game. That’s what matters.”

The Browns showed some spunk by coming right back with an onside kick. They recovered, but they were penalized for being offside and touching the ball too soon, and had to back up five yards and kick again. They didn’t try another one, but the two trick plays left an impression.

”You say, ‘Hey, they’re pulling out all the stops,’ “ Gibbs said. “It let’s you know what kind of day you’re in for.”

The Redskins seemed to take control on their next two possessions, driving 72 and 96 yards for scores and a 21-7 lead with 4:14 left in the first half. Both were beauties. Rypien went to Monk three times in the first drive, including a 15-yarder on third and seven from the Cleveland 16 to set up the first of two Gerald Riggs touchdown runs.

They needed just five plays and two penalties to drive the 96 yards. After runs of five and two yards by Byner, Rypien hit Sanders for seven yards and got another 15 after tackle James Jones was called for roughing the passer.

Rypien got Monk one-on-one with cornerback Frank Minnifield down the middle, and connected for 46 yards to the Cleveland 21. Byner swept left and sidestepped safety Stephen Braggs to get into the end zone for the score with 4:14 left in the half.

That’s when the Redskins got a break. The Browns drove to the Washington 22, and on first down, Metcalf broke outside and appeared on his way to scoring when Marshall stripped him of the ball. It bounced against the pylon at the goal line and rolled out of bounds. The pylon is considered the end zone and on fumbles out of the end zone, the rules say the ball goes over to the defense.

The Browns drove for a field goal on their first play of the second half, to narrow the deficit to 21-10. Then with Riggs subbing for Byner, linebacker Clay Matthews stripped Riggs of the ball. Safety Vince Newsome picked it up and ran 37 yards for the touchdown that made it 21-17 with 8:07 left in the third quarter.

Riggs trotted off the field and Ervins returned the kickoff 46 yards. After Riggs was stopped on the first play for no gain, Gibbs sent in Ervins.

He promptly gained 15 yards for a first down. Rypien hit Clark for 15. Ervins gained four to the Cleveland 12, and got the rest on one flashy sweep left. He got to the corner at the 10 and beat two defensive backs into the end zone for a 28-17 lead.

Redskins wide receiver Art

Monk caught seven passes for 106 yards Sunday and

became the NFL’s No. 2 all-time receiver.

Player ............. No..... Yards

Steve Largent .... 819 .... 13,089

Art Monk ......... 756 .... 10,328

Charlie Joiner ... 750 .... 12,146

Monk has caught at least one pass in 123 consecutive

regular season games, fourth-best streak in NFL history.

Games........ Player ........... Years

177 .... Steve Largent ...... 1977-89

150 .... Ozzie Newsome ...... 1979-89

127 .... Harold Carmichael .. 1972-80

123 .... Art Monk ........... 1983-91

121 .... Mel Gray ........... 1973-82