- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002

About the only people who stopped the Philadelphia Eagles last night were the stadium police.

Play was suspended for about 10 minutes in the fourth quarter when pepper spray that police had used to break up an altercation in the stands wafted onto the Eagles sideline, forcing players, coaches and officials to move toward the Redskins' side of the field.

A Redskins official said after the game a Prince George's County police officer was pulled into a fracas in one of the first few rows behind the bench and was struck, and another officer discharged a small amount of pepper spray. The spray was pulled onto the field by the large fans near the Eagles' bench. The officer was not injured.

The Eagles had the ball with 6:38 to go in the game when nearly everyone from the Philadelphia side covered their faces and moved away from the sideline. Referee Bob McElwee first announced "a foreign substance" had been sprayed, leaving some question as to what exactly had happened or what the "spray" actually was. After a few minutes, McElwee announced that play would resume.

Somehow it was not surprising that pepper spray was required to break up a fight considering the fair number of Eagles fans at the game and their perceived combative dispositions.

Gardener out with back spasms

Washington Redskins defensive tackle Daryl Gardener was scratched from last night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles because of back spasms that flared up last week.

Those close to Gardener held out some hope he might be able to play after receiving a pain-killing injection Friday. However, the team prepared for his absence and in his place Carl Powell made his first career start. Former Maryland standout Del Cowsette also was slated for extensive snaps.

Gardener's back condition, which led to surgeries in 2000 and 2001, is looking more and more like a season-long, if not yet a season-ending, ailment. He played in just one preseason game before the spasms flared up, and just one regular-season game before going down most recently.

The most recent injection was slightly different from the epidurals Gardener received during the preseason. This shot went into the spinal joint rather than the nerve bundle. Doctors hope by reducing the pain in Gardener's back, he might be able to resume normal activity.

Green bows out on 'MNF'

Darrell Green began his long and illustrious career as a Redskin with a splash in the Redskins' 1983 opener against the Dallas Cowboys on "Monday Night Football." The Redskins lost that game 31-30, but most observers remember how Green chased down Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett on a long run and showed just how much speed the rookie cornerback from Texas A&I had.

Last night's game is the only "Monday Night Football" appearance for the Redskins this season and likely Green's last as well.

Evans recovering

Former Redskins safety Leomont Evans, who suffered a career-ending spinal injury this preseason while playing for the Houston Texans, attended last night's game. Although he was walking with a cane and still physically limited in several ways, he said he is enjoying life from a different perspective and "getting better every day."

"I'm going to be fine, that's the main thing," Evans said. "It's just going to take some time to get back to normal."

Evans lives in Columbia, S.C., near Redskins running back Stephen Davis, with whom he remains close friends. The opportunity to see Davis play and be around the team he played for from 1996 to 1999 meant a tremendous amount to Evans.

"It's everything," said Evans, the Redskins' fifth-round draft pick in 1996. "This is where I got my start. These are the people that believed in me and drafted me and gave me a chance, so I'm always going to be grateful to the Redskins."

Battlin' B-Mitch

Washington's special teams had a daunting task trying to stop returner Brian Mitchell, the former Redskin and current Eagle who holds a variety of NFL return records.

Redskins linebacker Eddie Mason, one of the team's key special teams players and a former teammate of Mitchell, said he would rather face one of the NFL's speedsters than Mitchell, even though Mitchell frequently takes his returns right up the middle and doesn't have blazing speed.

"If it wasn't a guy with his experience, I would probably say to go with a guy with less speed, but because it's Brian Mitchell, I'd probably rather take the speed guy," Mason said. "He's not as fast as he used to be, but he's still got good speed. He may not have that burst, but he can still hit that hole. And the thing about him is that he can break tackles, which some speed guys can't do."

Pregame activity

The national anthem had some added flair with members of the Black Daggers, a U.S. Army Special Operations parachute team based in Fort Bragg, N.C., dropping in during the rendition to cheers from fans. A moment of silence was held before the game for Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas.

Green returns, scores

Jacquez Green's second-quarter punt return for a touchdown revitalized his team and re-energized the crowd after the Redskins trailed by two touchdowns.

Green took the 53-yard punt at his 20 and, with the first Eagles coverage men taking outside paths to him, shot straight up the middle. He dodged tackle attempts by Ike Reese, Barry Gardner and Sheldon Brown and burst up the left side, easily outrunning punter Sean Landeta and other pursuers before tiptoeing into the end zone.

The 80-yard score was the second-longest touchdown on a punt return in Redskins history next to Bill Dudley's 96-yard runback on Dec.3, 1950.

Green knows something about long runbacks his only punt return for a touchdown while with Tampa Bay was a 95-yarder at Green Bay in 1998. He returned punts for the Buccaneers in 1998 and 1999 but hadn't done so regularly in the last two seasons.

Bailey gets a touch, loses it

After getting only decoy duty in the Redskins' season-opener, cornerback Champ Bailey got his hands on the ball on offense for the first time this season last night and promptly fumbled.

Bailey got the call for an end-around on a second-down play midway through the second quarter. As he came from left to right, linebacker Carlos Emmons hit him first, but subsequent hits by lineman Darwin Walker and former Redskins linebacker Shawn Barber jarred the ball loose. Brandon Whiting recovered for the Eagles at the Washington 30, and the Eagles converted the turnover into a field goal.

Bailey was in on some offensive plays in the preseason but had not recorded a carry or catch.

Inactives

Washington's inactives besides Daryl Gardener were running back Ladell Betts, linebacker Antonio Pierce, offensive linemen Kipp Vickers and Alex Sulfsted, tight end Walter Rasby and defensive end Greg Scott. The third quarterback was rookie Patrick Ramsey.


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