- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2001

PHILADELPHIA Tony Banks was carted off the field a week ago after suffering the most serious concussion of his career. Yesterday, Banks quarterbacked the Washington Redskins to their biggest victory of the season.
Banks' numbers in the 13-3 victory over the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles at Veterans Stadium were underwhelming he completed 12 of 18 passes for 96 yards but his resiliency in the face of a ferocious defense was impressive.
"We already knew that Tony was a tough guy," Redskins guard Ben Coleman said. "He had a concussion last week, but we knew he was going to play. He's one of 'the guys.'"
That's no backhanded compliment coming from an offensive lineman. Banks' toughness was especially evident in the final minute of the first half. The Eagles' Pro Bowl safety, Brian Dawkins, leveled him in front of the Philadelphia bench, and Banks bounced right up. Four plays later, Brett Conway kicked a field goal that increased the Redskins' lead to 10-0.
"That was a great hit," Banks said. "Brian Dawkins is one of the best safeties in the league. I'm sure there were a few oohs and ahhs, people wondering if I was going to get up. I admit that wasn't the smartest move I made all day [not sliding to avoid Dawkins], but the more the Eagles were telling me to stay down, that increased my ability to get up."
Banks and Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said they never worried about the aftereffects of last week's concussion courtesy of a hit by the Denver Broncos' Leon Lett once the quarterback took the field yesterday.
"I get paid to play on Sundays," Banks said. "People get concussions every day, but when you're not playing quarterback, nobody really cares."
And no one, not even Banks, cared that he passed for fewer than 100 yards, not when his team extended its winning streak to five games.
"It wasn't a great passing exhibition obviously. We were fortunate enough to make a couple of plays, particularly in that last drive. … Two great throws by our quarterback and big catches by our receivers, and therein lies the outcome of the game," Schottenheimer said.
The biggest play was Banks' third-and-9 completion to rookie wideout Rod Gardner in the fourth quarter. If the Redskins had failed to pick up the first down, they would have had to punt the ball back to the Eagles with more than seven minutes left and a 10-3 lead that looked awfully shaky.
"Tony had a very narrow window to get it to me, but he threw a perfect ball," Gardner said. "That took a lot of courage with [Dawkins] in his face."
The pass to Gardner and Banks' 11-yard hookup with receiver Michael Westbrook two plays later got the Redskins rolling on a clock-eating series that culminated in Conway's victory-sealing 32-yarder. The Eagles got the ball back with just 30 seconds remained.
"They brought the safety just like we said they would," Banks said. "Rod did a good job of adjusting his route, but the backer was in the way so I had to hold the ball a split-second longer than I would like to. I'd like to see the throw on film because I keep hearing that it was a good one, but I didn't see it because unfortunately I was on my back.
"The other one [to Westbrook], every quarterback in the league gets paid to make that kind of throw. It's not always going to be a wide-open guy, but in the NFL you've got to hit him. That's the kind of throw big-time quarterbacks make, and I've always liked to consider myself a big-time quarterback."
And yet, the 28-year-old Banks arrived in Washington deemed wanting by the St. Louis Rams in 1998, by the Baltimore Ravens last year and by the Dallas Cowboys this summer. His record as a starter through Week 5 of this season was an ugly 25-36. But now Banks has won five straight starts, completing 59 of 103 passes (57.3 percent) for 811 yards, five touchdowns and just two interceptions.
"You guys have been ripping me for years, but when you win five in a row, there aren't too many bad things you can say," Banks said. "If we don't turn the ball over with the quality backs and quality offensive line that we've got and we're able to take our shots off play-action, most of the time things are going to work out in our favor."
Banks' signing on Aug. 16 has certainly worked out in his favor. And the Redskins'.


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