LANDOVER -- As Brett Conway trotted onto the field to attempt the game-winning field goal in overtime yesterday, the Washington Redskins' fans booed him.
That's the kind of game it was as the Redskins escaped with a sloppy 20-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Conway's 27-yard kick with 10: 26 left in overtime.
It came after he missed a 28-yard try on the final play of regulation for his seventh miss in his last 12 attempts, including three against the New York Giants a week earlier.
The Redskins won the toss in overtime, got a 48-yard return from James Thrash and marched to the 2-yard line to set up what should have been a routine field goal.
Coach Norv Turner called for the field-goal attempt on third down in case the Redskins botched the snap. Sure enough, quarterback Brad Johnson dropped the snap and recovered on the 9. Conway made the kick on fourth down.
"It was ugly. The whole game was ugly, but we'll take it," said wide receiver Irving Fryar. "When they put a number in the W [win] column, it doesn't say 'ugly' before it. It just says it's a win, and we'll take them any way we can get them."
With road games against the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts coming up, sandwiched around a home game against Arizona, the Redskins' grasp on the lead is tenuous, however. The assignment becomes even more difficult with the return from injury yesterday of Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer.
Turner, who must lead the Redskins to the playoffs -- if not win a playoff game -- to avoid getting the pink slip from new owner Daniel Snyder, tried to put the best spin on the victory, despite the Redskins blowing a 17-3 lead and giving up two 91-yard drives to Eagles rookie quarterback Donovan McNabb in the fourth quarter.
"As I said in the locker room, to quote Tre Johnson, 'There was a time when we may have found a way to lose this type of game.' I think our guys are growing up," Turner said. "I think, no matter what happens, they feel they have a chance to win the football game."
While the Redskins might be growing up, they played at times yesterday as if they still need training wheels.
At the two-minute warning of the first half, the Redskins had a first down on the Eagles' 43. They didn't go into a hurry-up offense and took four downs to get a first down on the Philadelphia 32 with 34 seconds left.
Three plays later, Albert Connell caught a pass near the sideline at the Eagles' 18 but failed to get out of bounds to stop the clock. The half ended when he was tackled, and the Redskins didn't get a field-goal attempt.
After losing a 35-28 shootout to the Eagles two weeks ago, when Brad Johnson committed five of the Redskins' six turnovers, Turner used a more conservative game plan this time.
Washington had only one turnover yesterday, but it wouldn't have scored a touchdown without help on two plays.
The Redskins got their first touchdown in the second quarter when Johnson forced a pass into the end zone that went through the arms of safety Brian Dawkins. It bounced off Stephen Alexander's chest, and Mike Sellers grabbed the carom.
"Given the opportunity, I try to make the best of it," Sellers said. "I was supposed to run a flat route, I saw him [Johnson] throw the ball, so I just started drifting back. I was close to him [Alexander], the ball bounced off his chest and that was about it."
Dawkins said: "The ball was in the air, and instead of just catching it, I was trying too hard and it went straight through my hands. That's something I have to get better at and make plays. I want to be known as a guy that makes plays."
The Redskins got their other touchdown in the third quarter, when Fryar couldn't hold onto a ball in the end zone. But Eagles defensive back Bobby Taylor was called for interference, a 38-yard penalty that gave the Redskins a first down on the Eagles' 1 and set up Stephen Davis' 1-yard touchdown run for a 17-3 lead.
For three quarters, McNabb, who turned the ball over six times in a 44-17 loss to Indianapolis last week and passed for only 60 yards in the first game against the Redskins, had just 79 passing yards.
But the Redskins' defense, ranked second worst in the league, couldn't stop McNabb in the fourth quarter when he passed for 91 of his 172 yards and ran for 33 of his 71 rushing yards to tie the game.
"I think I'm feeling a lot more comfortable out there," McNabb said.
But the Eagles never got the ball back after they tied it. Brian Mitchell's 45-yard kickoff return set up Conway's 28-yard miss before the Redskins won the toss at the start of overtime and got the game-winner.
"I was very upset with myself and very angry that I didn't make the first one," Conway said. "If I was in the crowd, I would have booed, too."
NOTES: Fryar, who retired from the Eagles last year when they told him they would cut him if he didn't, caught two passes to boost his career total to 800. "It's a milestone," he said. "Only a few people in the history of the world have done it." Sean Landeta (Towson State, Loch Raven), punted four times and now has 1,003 for his career. He also punted 204 times in the U.S. Football League with the Philadelphia-Baltimore Stars. Davis and the Eagles' Duce Staley each rushed for 122 yards in the first game, but both teams concentrated on stuffing the run this time. Davis, who was leading the NFL with 1,034 yards, was held to 61 on 24 carries. Staley, who went in with 942, was held to 44 on 19 rushes.
Pub Date: 11/29/99