- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2000

This is becoming a bad habit with Norv Turner.

Near the end of the game, he looks where the ball is resting and then he summons Eddie Murray to save the day.

Murray probably is not the person to be in this position. He was doing a radio show in Detroit a couple of weeks ago, and he probably kicks better than most radio-show hosts, but he is almost as old as dirt, and his right leg, with age, has lost its capacity to kick the long ones.

Murray is a teeth-gnashing adventure from 40 yards and beyond, and you could argue he does not inspire much confidence from even 39 yards. He hit the left upright with a 39-yard attempt in the second quarter yesterday. He also has missed an extra-point attempt during his three games with the team.

Yet Turner, the outgoing coach of the local NFL team, must have felt a sudden surge of optimism as he pointed to Murray in the waning seconds against the Giants.

His team was down by two points in a game reeking with playoff implications. The ball was on the New York 30, the kick from 49 yards. It was fourth down, five yards to go.

Turner had three options, and Murray was the least attractive of the three, considering his failed attempt earlier in the game and his failed attempt against the Eagles last week.

Turner could have elected to go for the first down behind quarterback Jeff George, who was picking apart the Giants in relief of Brad Johnson. Or he could have asked kickoff-specialist Scott Bentley to try the attempt.

Bentley, who works on long field goal attempts in practice, said he was prepared to try the 49-yarder. He has the leg strength for it. He does not have the game experience.

A strong leg, even an erratic one, is better than no leg.

"I was told to be ready from 47, 48 yards," Bentley said. "It was a difficult kick for anyone because of the strong crosswind."

And it was a cold day, so the ball was cold, reluctant to travel a long distance.

Perhaps Turner considered these details after the officials overturned James Thrash's catch at the New York 19, although he said he gave no thought to entrusting the outcome of the game to Bentley.

"No, I didn't," he said. "Eddie is very, very accurate, and he has shown he can make them from there."

Last week, Turner said Murray's optimum kicking range was 44-45 yards, which is why the kicker was granted the opportunity to tie the game against the Eagles from 44 yards.

Murray's kick was wide right and possibly short, but after a week's worth of practice, Murray apparently had increased his leg strength by five yards. He was, it seems, getting better with age.

So he was afforded the chance to beat the Giants. The kick was straight enough, but it fell two or three yards short of the crossbar.

"I gave it my best shot," Murray said after the game.

For a radio-show host, Murray was not in a talkative mood.

What about the first one?

"Missed it," he said.

And the cold weather?

"It didn't help," he said.

As it turned out, Murray had the weather, his 44 years and a lack of leg strength going against him.

Turner merely had a short memory going against him.

Not surprisingly, the subject of Turner's job security was raised. Was this it? Was this the one that does it?

"Pardon me," Turner said at first, either because the question was disconcerting or because he didn't hear it.

"You're talking to the wrong guy," he said.

That guy may not be the right one, either. He is the guy who paid $100 million to be 7-6 and in jeopardy of not making the playoffs. The team was 8-5 after 13 games last season.

"That probably was as poor as I can remember we've performed on offense," Turner said.

The decision-making function was equally suspect.

Talk of the three games ahead surfaced, a victory in each being paramount.

"I've talked of us winning the next game, and that's what I'll keep doing," Turner said.

That is assuming he gets the chance.

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