WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins have gone from first to worst in less than two years.
The Redskins, who won the Super Bowl at the end of the 1991 season, stayed in the NFC East basement yesterday, when they were thrashed by the New York Giants, 41-7, before 53,715 disgruntled fans who did a lot of booing and left early. It was the Redskins' worst loss at RFK Stadium, topping the 38-7 defeat dealt by the Baltimore Colts in 1965.
The super days now seem like a distant memory as the Redskins fell to 1-4 and lost their fourth straight for the first time since they started 0-5 in former coach Joe Gibbs' first season in 1981. They're tied with the Phoenix Cardinals for last in the division.
Rookie coach Richie Petitbon, who was testy during the week, was patient with reporters in his post-game news conference.
"We obviously got our butts kicked today," he said. "I think it's probably the longest day I've ever spent at RFK Stadium. From the coaching staff right down to the players, I think we stunk."
Petitbon, who was the defensive coordinator for the Redskins' three Super Bowl champions since 1982, said he doesn't think the Redskins ever have played this poorly on defense during his tenure.
Cornerback Darrell Green said as he departed the stadium: "There's too many analysts. I'm not going to be one. I'm just going to say this: The bottom line is it's the most disappointing and embarrassing game that I can remember since I've been a Redskin. The end. Thank you."
The Giants (4-1) are tied for first place in the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles. The two play at Giants Stadium on Sunday.
The 34-point margin was the Redskins' worst loss since they were beaten by the Chicago Bears, 45-10, in 1985, their worst loss to the Giants since they were beaten, 53-0, in 1961 and their worst loss in Washington since they were beaten by the Philadelphia Eagles, 45-0, at Griffith Stadium in 1948.
The return of quarterback Mark Rypien, playing for the first time in a month, and with a brace on his tender right knee, didn't make any difference.
Rypien's passing statistics were respectable (21 of 35 for 220 yards, one touchdown, one interception), but the Redskins didn't have any running game to back him up.
The Giants scored touchdowns the first four times they had the ball. The Redskins, outscored 40-0 in the first period this season, fell behind 27-0 in the second period and trailed 27-7 at halftime. The result was the Redskins had to abandon the run.
Brian Mitchell had 9 yards on four carries and Reggie Brooks, who didn't carry after he fumbled in the second period, got 13 yards on three carries. Ricky Ervins, who fell out of favor after he tTC was a training-camp holdout, carried for the first time and gained 23 yards on two attempts.
The Giants even seemed embarrassed to beat the Redskins so easily. They didn't gloat. Instead, they pointed out the Redskins are overwhelmed with injuries.
Quarterback Phil Simms, an old Redskins nemesis, said: "I don't have any false illusions. They're real beat up, and a lot of bounces were going our way, but the big positive is that we took advantage of them."
Simms, who was 9-1 against the Redskins from 1986 to 1990, is now 14-6 against the Redskins and 6-4 at RFK Stadium, which he said is his favorite place to play.
"If I could take one stadium, it would be here because of the whole atmosphere," he said.
There wasn't much atmosphere yesterday. It was too one-sided, and the stadium was virtually empty when it ended.
The Giants had injury problems of their own, but overcame them. They were missing their top two running backs, Rodney Hampton and Jarrod Bunch.
It didn't make much difference, as they rushed 47 times for 199 yards, with Lewis Tillman gaining 104 yards on 29 carries.
Simms, who was nine of nine in the first half, completed 14 of 17 for 182 yards and three touchdowns. David Meggett, the former Towson State star, ran eight times for 36 yards and threw a 42-yard option pass to Mike Sherrard for a touchdown in the second quarter that made it 20-0. The option pass came on the first play after Brooks fumbled.
"It was an excellent call on their part. They caught us in a dog
[blitz]. They couldn't have called it at a better time. We got fooled," Petitbon said.
The Redskins were handicapped in the defensive line with Charles Mann and Eric Williams inactive and Shane Collins reduced to part-time status. Jason Buck separated his shoulder, but stayed in the game because the team is so short-handed.
Unable to stop the run, the Redskins tried to blitz and got burned.
"It's a two-edged sword," Petitbon said.
On the next drive, the Redskins had a second-and-two at the Giants 31 when linebacker Corey Miller jumped up and grabbed a Rypien pass. He fumbled it, Mark Collins tried to pick it up and Carlton Bailey finally recovered it on the Washington 44. Three plays later, Simms threw his second touchdown pass to Howard Cross.
Of Miller's play, Rypien said: "Brian Mitchell was sitting wide open in the flat, and he makes an athletic effort and turns the game around."
Even when they trailed 27-0, the Redskins tried to rally. Rypien threw a touchdown pass to Tim McGee at the end of the first half and had the Redskins at the Giants 5 in the third period.
Mitchell ran to the 2, but Mark Schlereth was called for a false start. Rypien then was sacked, threw an incomplete pass on third down and Chip Lohmiller was wide right on a 35-yard field-goal attempt.
Offensive coordinator Rod Dowhower said another turning point came on the Redskins' first drive, when Brooks dropped a second-down pass and Mitchell was stopped a yard short on third-and-six. The Redskins had to punt, and the Giants took control.
"If we keep the drive alive, the running game takes care of itself. You've got to make plays. That's it. You've got to make some key plays," Dowhower said.
Instead, nothing worked for the Redskins. They even tried their old formula of a players-only team meeting the night before the game.
"Obviously, it didn't help," tight end Ron Middleton said.
Middleton, though, said he hopes that this low point will spur the team on.
"I want to remember this a long time, because we got totally drilled," he said. "I don't want to feel like this again."