WASHINGTON -- The play was symbolic of an entire lost season for the Washington Redskins.
"It's a season of almosts," said safety Danny Copeland yesterday after the Redskins lost, 17-14, to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Copeland thought he was ready to make his first catch in a Redskins uniform when Washington tried a fake punt on fourth-and-seven at its 22 in the second period.
Copeland was wide open on the left side waiting to catch the pass from Brian Mitchell, who had the option of throwing it to Copeland or Todd Bowles.
"And then I stood there with my mouth wide open watching it go the other way," Copeland said.
Mitchell threw to Bowles, and Otis Smith intercepted to set up a Philadelphia touchdown.
Mitchell left the locker room before reporters were allowed in, but special-teams coach Wayne Sevier said: "He thought the pre-snap look made it look like he'd want to go to the right side. He's in there and there's all kinds of bodies around. He did what he thought was right and went with it."
Bowles said: "I thought I was open. I wasn't wide open, but I was open."
Of the losses, Bowles said: "Each loss is different. Yet as it goes on, it's still the same. It hurts just as much. It's like a broken record we can't seem to fix right now."
Bubby the battler
During the winning touchdown drive, quarterback Bubby Brister collided with linebacker Carl Banks on a 3-yard scramble rather than run out of bounds.
Coach Rich Kotite said: "He's a battler. That's why we got him. When he was at midfield with a clump of grass in his helmet and got hit in the hand, he didn't even feel it."
Banks, though, was annoyed that Brister didn't run out of bounds. He didn't deck Brister because the officials try to protect quarterbacks.
"I spoke to the referee about that because if we have to relax
when we get in that fringe area, he's going to have to warn the quarterback [and tell him to run out of bounds] about that. If it happens again, I'm going to take a shot at him. If he's going to be brave and turn up on me and challenge me, the next time he comes over there, I'm going to try to take his head off," he said.
Banks said he took it easy on Brister because he got penalized in Buffalo for a sideline hit on Jim Kelly even though he said the quarterback's feet were in bounds.
Kotite calls the shots
Kotite took over the play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Zeke Bratkowski last week and came up with the game-winner at the end, the pass from Brister to James Joseph.
"The last play was a good call, a play-action pass when they haeverybody jumping inside. Richie called the plays, and we had a rhythm and got it going," Brister said.
Joseph said: "We had been running the slant to that side all day, and I think they were set up for it. I just went into the flat under theslant, and I was able to get open. Bubby did a great job of taking control in the huddle during that last drive."
Not smooth sailing
Redskins coach Richie Petitbon, discussing how the team had to use its timeouts in the third period, said: "Any time you go with a new quarterback, it's not going to be the smoothest operation."
Monk's streak at 159
Art Monk didn't play the first half for the second straight week, but came in to catch two passes, including one for a touchdown, in the second half. He has caught passes in 159 straight games.
After his first catch in the third period, the Redskins wasted so much time celebrating they had to use a timeout when they ran out of time.
Desmond Howard, who started his second straight game, caught only one pass.
The injury toll continued to mount for the Redskins. Center Jeff Bostic went out with a bruised left hip, which forced Raleigh McKenzie to move from guard back to center and Vernice Smith to come in at guard.
"It's a very unique situation. I've never been around anything like it," quarterback Rich Gannon said of their line injuries.
After Smith, who signed on Nov. 9, came in, the Redskins had two men playing who weren't with the team a month ago. Jeff Faulkner, who was signed Nov. 16, started at defensive tackle because of all the injuries in the defensive line.
The Redskins also may have lost their holder. Pat Eilers went out with a knee injury.