- The Washington Times - Monday, October 22, 2001

The Redskins made a serious claim to be regarded as the 30th-best team in the NFL yesterday.
This required a considerable amount of cooperation on the part of the Panthers.
The Panthers could have been up by 28 points by the time the Redskins stumbled into the game in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers lost two potential touchdowns with the ever-curious interception play inside the Washington 10-yard line. The Panthers called the interception play twice, and one time the ball went to Kenard Lang and the other time it went to Otis Leverette.
A field goal on each occasion would have settled the affair, but the Panthers did not get to be where they are because of competence.
Chris Weinke is a rookie quarterback, even if he is a 29-year-old rookie quarterback. He was the Redskins' best weapon most of the afternoon and should have rated a game ball from the host team.
Weinke also threw a nice pass to LaVar Arrington in the fourth quarter, which provided the Redskins with the resolve to be vaguely professional.
After Arrington's touchdown return, Tony Banks, the Redskins' starting quarterback by default who left his heart in Dallas, discovered the forward pass.
This followed more than three quarters' worth of numbing listlessness, punctuated with the usual assortment of boos and catcalls from the crowd. The most desperate in attendance even implored Sonny Jurgensen to leave the radio booth in the third quarter and enter the game at quarterback.
Jurgensen has been out of the NFL for 27 seasons now, but with an offense that is averaging only 8.2 points a game, the thought of Jurgensen in uniform is becoming almost plausible.
Jurgensen, Part Deux, would make the three-ring circus of J's in Washington complete, counting Michael Jordan and Jaromir Jagr.
The Redskins tied the game after Banks completed an 85-yard touchdown strike to Rod Gardner. You might have thought the Redskins had qualified for the playoffs at this point. You could understand their elation. They haven't had a lot of practice with these situations. They usually are out of the game by halftime.
It was a dogfight at this point, and a dog, a mongrel, in fact, was the appropriate mascot for both parties.
The Redskins could have won the game in regulation, but Brett Conway, in reprising Eddie Murray's role, missed a 32-yard field goal attempt.
Darrell Green, with the help of his teammates, won the coin flip before the start of the extra period.
Three plays later, following another long pass from Banks to Gardner and a review by the officials, Conway kicked the game-winning field goal. The long march to oblivion was halted, if only temporarily, although the moment did not come with cries of, "We're No. 30, we're No. 30."
Marty Schottenheimer, the team's head spin doctor whose future has been placed on the week-to-week list, tried to inspire the bleating herd after the game.
"I think it speaks volumes about the young men in that locker room," he said. "A lesser group of men would not have persevered at 14-0."
The Redskins purged the quit in their system weeks ago, mostly because quitting is an insult to a franchise that once led the league in gut checks.
The improbable developments against the Panthers had the feel of a reprieve. The Giants are next, followed by the Seahawks, the vastly improved bye week, the Broncos and Eagles. There is not a win in the bunch unless the Redskins come across another team that likes the interception play inside the opposition's 10-yard line.
Schottenheimer is sticking with the notion that he knows where he is going with this team, which probably comes as a shock to those dropping hints that he is down to his last 10 games.
"From a coaching perspective, that's why you coach, to see these young guys grow and grow," Schottenheimer said.
The yarn of growing on the job is a tricky proposition in sports. It is often the last refuge of those who have talked themselves into a corner.
This team was going to contend for the playoffs before the truth hit the fan. Now it is a team that is growing, that is in the throes of a rebuilding plan.
How encouraging.

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