- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2000

It wasn't quite like finding the perfect gift under the tree, but the Washington Redskins' season-ending 20-3 victory over the Arizona Cardinals yesterday at FedEx Field was better than a lump of coal.

An announced crowd of 65,711 (which looked to be a good 15,000 smaller) turned out for the meaningless finale to what was supposed to be a Super Bowl season. Instead, the 1999 NFC East champions aren't even going to the playoffs after an 8-8 season. Yesterday's victory was Washington's first in five weeks and just its second since a 6-2 start that had it atop the division. It was also the first victory in the team's three games under interim coach Terry Robiskie.

"A lot of people wanted to see if the Redskins had quit," said Robiskie, whose team was flat in embarrassing losses at Dallas and Pittsburgh the previous two weeks. "In Dallas, we still had hope. In Pittsburgh, we had a little hope. Today they knew the season was over. If there was anytime they could have quit, it would have been today. But today there was no quit."

Although Robiskie is expected to be dismissed by owner Dan Snyder, possibly as soon as this week, he's certainly not quitting.

"Whatever decision Mr. Snyder makes, I'm 100 percent behind him," Robiskie said. "I believe in him. He gave me an opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do. Of course, I want the job. My record is 1-2. A great friend of mine across the hall [Arizona coach Dave McGinnis] is 1-8 since he took over, and the Cardinals saw [enough] in him to give him an opportunity to go on [with a four-year contract]. I'd rather be 1-2 than 1-8, and I hope somebody sees [enough] in me to give me an opportunity to go on."

Snyder and newly hired vice president of football operations Pepper Rodgers have been searching for a permanent replacement for Norv Turner, who was fired Dec. 4 with the team at 7-6 following consecutive critical home losses to Philadelphia and the New York Giants.

Once cornerback/receiver Champ Bailey turned his first NFL carry into a 7-yard touchdown less than four minutes into the game yesterday, it was apparent that the Redskins would dominate this game as they had been expected to do in the NFC East all year.

After running back Michael Pittman fumbled on Arizona's first play, Washington middle linebacker Derek Smith picked up the ball and ran into the end zone. The apparent touchdown was called back because receiver Frank Sanders had touched Smith, but no matter. The Redskins scored seven plays later on a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brad Johnson to receiver Irving Fryar, two of the many players who aren't expected to return. Fryar, 38, even ran from the backfield for the first time in his memory.

Washington led 20-0 midway through the second quarter as almost everything worked. Struggling kickers Eddie Murray (41 yards) and Scott Bentley (50 yards) nailed early field goal attempts. Fullback Larry Centers caught his 80th pass of the season, something only likely Hall of Famer Art Monk had accomplished for the Redskins.

Free safety Mark Carrier made his first interception as a Redskin. Cornerbacks Darrell Green (the 53rd of his record 18-year career) and Bailey (his fifth in four career games against Arizona) also picked off Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer. Bailey, who starred as a punt returner at Georgia, also finally got a chance to give that skill a shot as a pro and gained 11 yards. And defensive end Bruce Smith set an NFL mark by recording his 13th season with 10 sacks.

But after reveling in his first victory complete with the ritual Gatorade drenching, Robiskie couldn't help but look back in sadness at the season gone awry. The Redskins beat five playoff teams (the New York Giants, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and St. Louis) during their first 13 games but lost six of those contests by a total of 23 points, costing Turner his job and the team its playoff spot.

"There's no way in the world I would have believed you if you had told me at the beginning of the season that we would end up 8-8," said Centers, adding that he'll never get over the disappointment.

Said Robiskie: "I think about the opportunities we squandered, the chance we had that slipped right through our hands the game in Arizona [a 16-15 loss], the Detroit game [a 15-10 loss]. [But] if this is my last opportunity to be a head coach, I might be one of the few guys to say I won the last game I coached."

The Redskins did set one record yesterday. The crowd pushed Washington's season attendance to an NFL-record 647,424.

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