ASHBURN, Va. - A day after watching quarterback Brad Johnson throw a key interception late in the Washington Redskins' loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, coach Norv Turner said he was sticking with his starter.
He did concede that backup Jeff George will get more snaps in practice. And he did not rule out pulling Johnson in favor of George in Sunday night's game against the undefeated New York Giants.
"I think you have to have a feel for that," Turner said. "If everything else is getting done at a real high level, and the only thing that was keeping you from getting done what you need to get done is the quarterback play, then you start thinking about doing something different."
George is the NFL's most over-qualified backup. He signed a four-year, $18.25 million deal with the Redskins after leading the Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs last season and posting a 94.2 quarterback rating, third-highest in the league. He declined to comment on his possible playing time.
Johnson's statistics were better than his performance in the Redskins' 27-21 loss to the Cowboys. While he went 30-for-49 for 241 yards and a touchdown, the Pro Bowl quarterback did not make plays at crucial points in the game.
His counterpart, Randall Cunningham, did. Cunningham completed only 10 passes, but two were for touchdowns. He completed a 44-yard pass to Raghib Ismail on third-and-six with 10 minutes left in the game and the Cowboys up by three. That led to a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jackie Harris two plays later to put the Cowboys up 24-14.
Johnson got the team back in the game with a nine-play, 69-yard touchdown drive on the next possession. But with a chance to at least tie the game, Johnson threw a pass right into the arms of safety Izell Reese with just over two minutes left at the Cowboys' 31.
The Redskins (1-2) got the ball back at their 14 with 1:38 left and down by six. But Johnson moved the team only 34 yards and took nine plays to do it. Most of the completions were to running back Adrian Murrell. It was indicative of the Redskins' passing attack the entire game. Johnson's longest pass was a 17-yarder to running back Stephen Davis.
"They took away a lot of our routes," Johnson said. "That is why we had to go to underneath routes. That was all that was there."
This week against the Giants in particular. A loss would drop the Redskins to three games out of first place in the NFC East.
It may also send a team, a city and a owner in panic mode just a quarter of the way into a supposed Super Bowl season.
"Obviously, this is very disappointing," Turner said. "We are in a real critical time. You can't worry about the 1-2 and you can't worry about the next 13 games. You have to worry about this week and this football game."
Said cornerback Deion Sanders: "With the expectations we have and the talent level inside this locker room and the coaching level, we should not be a 1-2 team. But it is too early to panic. I hope to God you all give us a grace and not push the panic button. Please don't break the glass.
"I hope our fans understand. I heard some nasty remarks as we were going [in the locker room]. We really don't want to hear that stuff right now."
NOTES: Fullback Larry Centers dislocated his elbow against the Cowboys. Tests showed no ligament damage, but Redskins trainer Bubba Tyer said it is doubtful Centers will play Sunday against the Giants. Mike Sellers would start in his place.