HERNDON, Va. -- Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs emerged from the Indianapolis horror Saturday night asking for a "miracle." He'll have to wait another week.
There wasn't even mediocre luck for Gibbs yesterday, after thEagles muted the Dallas Cowboys' offense by felling quarterback Troy Aikman. Philadelphia's 17-3 victory means -Z Washington must beat Buffalo Sunday and the Eagles must lose at Phoenix.
Otherwise Philadelphia is the home team, and the favorite, in thwild-card game.
If both the Skins and the Eagles finish 9-7, or 10-6, the Eagleprevail on comparison of records.
After the Redskins' shocking 35-28 defeat, Gibbs, as hfrequently does, paraphrased Sir Francis Bacon's thesis that adversity doth discover virtue.
"We needed this," Gibbs said in the solemn locker room. "It waa bitter lesson, but you need tough lessons . . . You can learn from the bad . . . Maybe there's a miracle there for us."
It was mournfully late for another catharsis of adversityQuarterback Mark Rypien was muttering that his bean-bag toss for the fateful interception was an attempt "to throw it away." Pro Bowl tackle Jim Lachey, who had distinguished himself again, wouldn't even mutter.
Gibbs more aptly might have cited Pogo's lament of thMcCarthy decade: "We has met the enemy and they is us." The Redskins did dumb things to do themselves in.
PTC It is conventional wisdom that games are controlled, and therebwon, at the line of scrimmage. Lachey, Rollo McKenzie et al shoved Indianapolis' defensive linemen all over their Hoosier Dome.
So not only did Earnest Byner get his 154 yards (topping 100 fothe fourth straight game), but there was yardage left over for Reggie Dupard and the almost-forgotten man, Kelvin Bryant.
For three quarters the Skins' defense sacked "not tougenough" rookie Jeff George often enough to keep him respectful. So by then Washington should have been enjoying a laugher, instead of clinging grimly to a 15-14 lead.
But George was tough enough to survive a couple oassaults-with-intent-to-do-grievous-bodily-harm among the Redskins' 14 penalties, several of them pointless, for 106 yards.
They complained and explained. "Am I not supposed to hit him?linebacker Wilber Marshall grumbled about his late-hit conviction. "He was out of the pocket."
Tim Johnson, a fellow as gentle as defensive tackles get, didn'stop sacking George after he had him sacked. "We made mistakes out of aggressiveness," Johnson said ruefully. "We were out of control sometimes."
Which leaves the Redskins in search of a miracle. Without onethey will have to face the Eagles in the hostile setting of Veterans Stadium, on artificial turf.
Reports that the Skins "do not do well" on that surface arirrelevant. They are 3-5 on ersatz turf this year but they were 4-1 last year. They abhor artificial turf, but the Eagles don't like it either.
Fifteen of the NFL's 28 teams play on what Redskins orthopedidoctor Charles Jackson calls "that quick surface." None of them likes it. Nobody likes it but the owners.
Artificial turf is conducive to the injuries the Skins suffered in thHoosier Dome: Eric Williams' strained arch, the twisted knees of Bryant and Charles Mann, the sprained ankles of McKenzie and Mark Schlereth. But only Williams is likely to miss the Buffalo game, trainer Bubba Tyer said.
Sidney Johnson, knocked cold and hospitalized overnightpassed a CAT scan examination but needs a precautionary week off.
Byner's 15-game total of 1,195 yards is the fifth highest season rushing total in Redskins' history. Nine yards against Buffalo would put him past George Rogers (1,203 in 1986); 22 would surpass Larry Brown's 1,216 (in '72, in only 14 games), and 45 would exceed John Riggins' 1,239 of '84.
If he got another 153 yards, Byner would surpass Riggins' 1,34that led the Skins to a 16-3 record in 1983.
The weekly television show ancillary to Gibbs' coaching incomtaped in advance, so Washington yesterday saw him modestly accepting congratulations for his 100th regular-season victory (111 counting playoffs).
Asked how long he'd coach, Gibbs gave his standard answer"As long as I feel good about it."