LOS ANGELES -- If this is Saturday, it must be Los Angeles.
That seemed to be the attitude of the travel-weary Washington Redskins yesterday after their 27-23 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Raiders before 40,805 at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The Redskins seemed tired and sluggish as they trailed in yardage, 378-145, and first downs, 23-11, but still pulled out the victory on three long touchdown plays and a late goal-line stand.
Washington intercepted three consecutive passes by former Redskin Jay Schroeder in the first quarter, and cornerback Martin Mayhew ran two of them back for touchdowns on consecutive plays.
Toss in Brian Mitchell's 97-yard touchdown run with a kickoff return, two field goals by Chip Lohmiller and a fourth-quarter goal-line stand, and the defending Super Bowl champion Redskins (1-3) had their first victory of the preseason.
They weren't in much of a celebratory mood afterward, though coach Joe Gibbs said he let the players enjoy the victory.
"I didn't jump anybody," Gibbs said. "You always want to enjoy a win because it's hard to get up here."
But Gibbs wasn't pleased with the team's overall showing.
"I think when we watch that film, that's going to be awful," Gibbs said. "I had the impression they were a lot stronger than we were. Maybe I'm wrong. If it hadn't been for that [the three big plays], it could have been lopsided in their favor.
"I think there were good things, but as far as solid football, I think we got whipped."
It was the Redskins' fourth consecutive road exhibition game, but Gibbs refused to use the travel as an excuse. In the past week, the Redskins flew from London to Dulles International Airport, drove to training camp in Carlisle, Pa., practiced for three days, broke camp Thursday, drove home and flew to Los Angeles on Friday.
"We travel lots of times," Gibbs said. "I don't think that had anything to do with it. We can make a thousand excuses."
The players were more candid.
"I thought the team was sluggish," said Raleigh McKenzie, who made his first start at left offensive tackle in place of holdout Jim Lachey. "I didn't feel real bouncy. I think the traveling has some part in it."
Even Mayhew didn't seem thrilled about his 33- and 25-yard interception returns for touchdowns.
"It doesn't feel like much," Mayhew said. "If it happened on Monday night in Dallas [Sept. 7, the regular-season opener], I'd be really excited."
If it had been a regular-season game, Mayhew would have been the 16th player in NFL history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. The only Redskin to do it was Dan Sandifer in 1948. Records are not kept on whether it has been done on consecutive plays.
The Redskins' other star was Mitchell, who gave the Raiders credit for setting up his return.
"They kicked it exactly where we wanted it kicked," he said. "If they had gone to the right instead of the left, it would not have happened."
The Raiders, trailing 21-7 at halftime, had a chance to win at the end when Todd Marinovich, who replaced Schroeder at halftime, directed two touchdown drives and threw an 11-yard fourth-down pass to Mike Alexander to the Redskins' 3 with four minutes left.
Nick Bell tried three carries thereafter, but came up a yard short.
The Raiders deliberated during the two-minute warning and decided to try a play-action pass from the 1 on fourth down.
The Redskins guessed the Raiders would throw, so they blitzed.
The Redskins got a big rush on Marinovich, who under-threw Napoleon McCallum in the end zone, then took over on downs. Washington then took a safety before punting the ball away to clinch the victory.
Overall, however, the Redskins weren't pleased with their defense, which allowed Eric Dickerson to rush for 93 yards in 20 carries in the first half.
"We can't play like that," defensive line coach LaVern Torgeson said. "We weren't playing good, sound, fundamental defense."
Gibbs said he thought quarterback Mark Rypien played well -- he completed five of 11 passes for 58 yards -- and the team suffered only two injuries -- safety Clarence Vaughn (sprained knee) and tight end John Brandes (bruised kneecap).
As for the Raiders, Marinovich probably won the starting job from Schroeder, but coach Art Shell ducked the issue.
"I'm not going to talk about who the starter is," Shell said.
Schroeder was philosophical. "The quarterback is either a hero or a goat," he said. "There's no fine line in between."