Flashback Monday: Skins shatter Meadowlands jinx
The 1991 Washington Redskins were a perfect storm composed of talented, determined players and a coaching staff pushing the right buttons at exactly the right moment. This Week 8 game is a great illustration of that as the RealRedskins.com Giants flashback series continues. From the pages of The Redskins From A to Z:
Giants Stadium—The Redskins battled back from a 13-0 halftime deficit and stormed past the Giants thanks largely to two touchdown passes from Mark Rypien to Gary Clark.
It's not often that a 7-0 team with a two-game lead in its division goes into a game with a chip on its collective shoulder, but that was exactly the mood of the Redskins going into this Sunday night contest in Giants Stadium.
The mindset stemmed from the fact that the Giants had beaten the Redskins six straight times. Worse, with the exception of a 1987 game played by strike replacement players, Washington had not won in the Meadowlands since 1983. This led to talk that the 7-0 start was not so impressive since they hadn't faced their nemesis yet.
"I was getting pretty upset about hearing that 7-0 didn't mean a thing," said defensive tackle Eric Williams. "I wasn't going to apologize for our record because the New York Giants hadn't been on the schedule."
The way the game started out, it appeared that the Redskins were going to have to apologize for their performance. The Giants controlled the line of scrimmage and outgained Washington 207 yards to 35. The frustration for the Washington offense was summed up on one play when Gary Clark got open deep, Mark Rypien delivered the pass on target, but Clark dropped the ball.
On the positive side, as badly as they had been outplayed the Redskins weren't out of the game on the scoreboard. Rodney Hampton scored a touchdown on a one-yard run, but two other New York forays deep into Washington territory were stopped short of the end zone and the Giants had to settle for two Raul Allegre field goals and a 13-0 halftime lead.
"The way it started, you have a tendency to say 'Goodness, gracious, here we go again,'" said Gibbs. Most of the players chose stronger language. The mood of the team in the locker room at halftime was one of loud, self-directed anger. Clark, desperate for a chance at redemption for dropping the sure TD pass, was among the most vocal, screaming, "Give me the damn ball!"
Rypien did just that with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Clark to pull the Redskins to within six at 13-7. That capped an 87-yard drive during which the Redskins converted seven straight third downs. The defense stopped the Giants when rookie defensive tackle Bobby Wilson knifed in to nail Hampton for a six-yard loss, forcing a punt.
The Redskins moved to their own 46 yard line where they faced third and 12. Looking for a gamebreaker, Joe Gibbs called a play that assistant Rod Dowhower had suggested in meetings the week before. The Giants were playing their standard defense, a soft, two-deep zone that was designed to prevent the deep pass. They key to beating it long was to get someone out of position.
Rypien took the snap and rolled to his left. Every time he had done that previously that year, he had thrown to the left. Free safety Greg Jackson knew this and dropped off of Clark, who was running a fly outside the right hashmark. "When he rolls that way," said Jackson, "we have to roll with him."
That left Clark with single coverage from corner Everson Walls. Clark got a step and Rypien got him the ball at the three. The receiver bobbled the ball for just a moment but this time he secured it for a 14-13 lead.
"It was exactly the same play as in the first half," Clark said. "Rip laid it right in my hands."
After getting the ball back, the Redskins did exactly what they needed to do; they ground out a time-consuming drive. Rookie running back Ricky Ervins was the workhouse, carrying the ball on 10 of the 14 plays that chewed nearly eight minutes off the clock. Chip Lohmiller's field goal to make it 17-13 came with 47 seconds left and Wilbur Marshall's interception shut off New York's last-gasp effort.
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