It took a blistering halftime speech by linebacker Ken Harvey to inspire the Washington Redskins to a 38-28 victory over the 3-11 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
So just who will the Redskins need to hear from at 12: 30 p.m. today at Giants Stadium to beat an 8-5-1 New York Giants team in a showdown for first place in the NFC East?
"The president of the United States could come in and talk to us and it wouldn't get us up anymore than we already are," starting left tackle Joe Patton said.
Six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrell Green agreed.
"We're talked out," said Green, who will play in a Redskins team-record 217th career game. "The team has grown to the extent if we don't get it done now, there are no excuses. We're just not good enough. Everybody knows what's at stake. It's pretty clear and all out there."
Green said he believes the Redskins, who can tie for the division lead and take the tiebreaker edge (1-0-1 head-to-head with New York) with a victory, are ready for the Giants but added, "I've been wrong before."
The 6-foot-5, 306-pound Patton believes last week's helmet-throwing tirade and talk by Harvey was what the younger players on the team needed.
"Ken made them think about some things," Patton said. "But that won't help us this week. [Today] will be totally different. This game is for the division."
Also, Patton spoke out against the criticism the NFC East has been receiving this year for not having a team better than New York's 8-5-1 record.
"I don't think anybody wants to play the NFC East in the playoffs," Patton said. "All our teams have strong offensive and defensive lines and there are outstanding cornerbacks throughout the division."
And, the Redskins have a new weapon in backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler, who started last week for injured Gus Frerotte and threw three touchdown passes in the victory over Arizona.
Hostetler has respect around the league for his no-fear attitude, ability to take charge in the huddle and knack for making the big play.
Even New York Giants coach Jim Fassel spent a lot of time talking about Hostetler this week.
Fassel said the Raiders in 1995 were "8-2 with Jeff and 0-6 without him. That tells you something. He makes me nervous [as an opponent] when he's in there."
Hostetler, 36, has been like a little boy in a candy store this week, emerging from 18 weeks of obscurity as something of a celebrity.
In Washington, he represents new hope for a playoff run.
In New York, he is the former Super Bowl hero who is coming
back to play against the Giants for the hated Redskins.
Hostetler smiled for the cameras this week and talked at ease and at length about New York and the Giants.
"I'm sure the papers are all over me in New York," he said. "After being there nine years, it teaches you what you can and can't do with the winds at the Meadowlands. They are always blowing opposite the flags. I just hope they don't have the doors open when I'm going in that direction."
In response to questions about his style in the huddle, Hostetler said, "I know some guys are wondering if we're going to get it done and it's my job to show in my eyes we will get it done. I'm known as a competitor who wants to win no matter what it takes."
Washington (7-6-1) at N.Y. Giants (8-5-1)
Time: 12:30 p.m. today, chs. 45, 5.
Line: Giants by 3.
Vs. spread: Redskins 8-6; Giants 7-6.
Last week: Redskins beat Cardinals, 38-28. Giants beat Eagles, 31-21.
Worth watching: QB Jeff Hostetler, who led the Giants to victory in Super Bowl XXV, gets his second start for the Redskins in
place of injured Gus Frerotte. The Giants hope second-year QB Danny Kanell has settled down after a recent slump.
Outlook: A win or a tie will give the Giants their first NFC East championship since 1990 and a home wild-card game. The Giants' run defense should dominate, especially because the Redskins are expected to again go without injured RB Terry Allen.
Notable: Giants have held opposing quarterbacks to a 64.4 passer rating, lowest in the NFL.
REDSKINS: Doubtful: RB Terry Allen (ankle); DB Scott Turner (ankle-injured reserve). Questionable: G Tre' Johnson (shoulder); DT Chris Mims (abdomen). Probable: T Shar Pourdanesh (groin); C Jeff Uhlenhake (knee).
GIANTS: Out: C Derek Engler (ankle); DE Cedric Jones (leg); LB Ryan Phillips (knee). Doubtful: S Brandon Sanders (groin); RB Tyrone Wheatley (ankle). Probable: RB Rodney Hampton (knee); Robert Massey (knee); G Ron Stone (leg).
Pub Date: 12/13/97