- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2000

REDSKINS 20, CARDINALS 3

Much like March, the 2000 Washington Redskins came in like lions and went out like lambs. Yesterday they ended their infamous $100 million season, one of the most hyped and tumultuous ever by an NFL team, with a meaningless, virtually drama-free win over the lowly Arizona Cardinals.

But at least it was a win, something the Redskins couldn't claim the past four weeks as they fell from playoff contention. Using a pair of touchdowns in the game's first 8* minutes and five Cardinals turnovers, they beat Arizona 20-3 before an announced 65,711 at FedEx Field. The performance allowed interim coach Terry Robiskie to gain his first and perhaps only victory and the team to avoid the ignominy of a losing record.

"At least, in the middle of everything that was going on, we got it together enough to go out with a win," veteran receiver Irving Fryar said. "It's a lot better being 8-8 than 7-9, but it doesn't take away the disappointment of sitting home tomorrow and knowing that we're not preparing for the playoffs."

Nor does it remove the fact that these Redskins endured a critical 16-15 loss to these Cardinals, who finished 3-13, on Nov. 5. That's what will haunt Washington this offseason losing to Arizona after beating playoff teams like the New York Giants, Philadelphia and Baltimore. That said, the Redskins finally played with some emotion after their playoff hopes were flattened in Robiskie's first two games by a combined score of 56-16.

"A lot of people around the world wanted to see if the Redskins quit," Robiskie said. "There were a lot of questions [after the last two losses]. I don't think there were any questions today… . Today they knew the season was over, and if there was anytime they could have quit, it would have been today. But today there was no quit."

Robiskie, who was promoted to replace Norv Turner after the latter's Dec. 4 firing, got a Gatorade dousing and then made another public appeal for the permanent job. Robiskie compared his 1-2 record to the 1-8 mark Arizona's Dave McGinnis has parlayed into a four-year extension.

"Whatever decision Mr. Snyder makes, I'm 100 percent behind it," Robiskie said. "I support him. I believe in him. He gave me an opportunity… . My record is 1-2. A great friend of mine across the hall, since he took over, his record is 1-8. The Cardinals saw it in him to give him an opportunity to go on. I'd rather be 1-2 than 1-8. I hope somebody sees that in me."

The fourth quarter's only intrigue came as Redskins fullback Larry Centers approached the 80-catch mark, which meant his second $250,000 incentive. Rookie quarterback Todd Husak, doing mop-up duty, hit Centers on a pair of dumps at Robiskie's request for the receiver's required sixth and seventh catches of the day.

Now the real drama begins as owner Dan Snyder heats up the coaching search and revamps the roster. Topping the list of retirement updates yesterday were Bruce Smith's declaration that he definitely will play next season and Fryar's statement that he would return only to play for Robiskie.

"There are a lot of question marks," safety Mark Carrier said. "The first thing is settling on a coach, because that's going to trigger a lot of different scenarios. We've got to start with that position there."

Outgoing quarterback Brad Johnson generated 315 yards with the Redskins' offense, which had not topped the 300-yard mark in December. Jeff George's injury allowed Johnson to play; the 1999 Pro Bowl selection threw for 172 yards in the first half en route to 192, hitting Fryar for a 7-yard touchdown with just 8:21 elapsed for a 14-0 lead.

Running back Stephen Davis also enjoyed a big game for the first time since fracturing his right forearm Nov. 20 at St. Louis. Davis rushed 27 times for 120 yards, increasing his total for the season to 1,318 yards (fourth in Redskins history) and nearly matching the 125 yards he had picked up since the injury.

Giving Washington a little bit of everything was second-year cornerback Champ Bailey. Robiskie, enduring injuries and lack of production from his wide receivers and returners, allowed the first-time Pro Bowl pick to catch two passes for 54 yards, run once for a 7-yard touchdown and field punts. Bailey also made an interception in the end zone.

Fryar, meanwhile, took two handoffs from the tailback position from which Bailey's run came rushing for 15 yards on one.

"We wanted to have fun, but we wanted to win the game," Robiskie said. "Putting Champ in there, Irving in there that wasn't a gimmick-type thing. We were trying to make plays."

Even the kicking game came around for the Redskins, whose five kickers this season highlighted the comedy with which they often played. Although 44-year-old Eddie Murray was short on his second attempt from 43 yards, he nailed a 41-yarder, and kickoff specialist Scott Bentley hit a 50-yarder in the second quarter.

Arizona generated just 64 yards in the first half, with running back Michael Pittman fumbling on the Cardinals' first play from scrimmage setting up Washington's second touchdown and quarterback Jake Plummer throwing an interception (the first of three) from the Washington 9 in the second quarter.

The second half held more yards but no points for Arizona. Plummer gave Darrell Green his 53rd career interception 1* minutes into the half, threw Bailey's pick on the first play of the fourth quarter and then fumbled on the Cardinals' next possession.

But Robiskie wasn't paying any attention to Arizona's ineptness. He was focused on ending the Redskins' wild year and his on a good note.

"If this is my last opportunity to coach as a head coach, I can say I won my last game," Robiskie said. "I was standing on the sideline elated. I kept looking for a TV camera to turn around and say I was going to Disneyland."

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