Tony Banks buzzed passes past linebacker's ears, floated screens to running backs and whipped passes into the back of the end zone, helping Washington beat Cleveland, 27-25. But there's one thing he didn't do: create a controversy. Just listen to Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer, when asked if Banks had a chance to unseat Jeff George.

''N-O,'' Schottenheimer said.

''I want to be a starter,'' Banks said, ''but I'm playing behind one of the most talented passers in the history of the game.''

Still, Banks at least showed that he was a wise pickup after completing 12 of 15 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. He mastered an offense he'd only started to learn a week ago. But the Redskins made it easy, trimming the playbook for him. Banks was limited to a half-dozen or so passing plays, a few screens and a half-dozen runs.

One of his best passes came on the first scoring drive when he looked the safety off to his right, holding the linebacker in place as well, then quickly turned and fired a laser past the linebacker to Kevin Lockett for 19 yards. Later Banks rolled right, hitting Michael Westbrook for 11 yards. He capped the drive with a two-yard toss to Donnell Bennett.

The problem was, George appeared to be shaking off the rust accumulated from missing most of the past three weeks. He completed three of seven passes for 17 yards. He missed a wide-open Rod Gardner in the end zone, severly underthrowing him. The good news: Gardner ran a nice route to get open.

''Jeff has gotten some opportunities but he hasn't played at the speed at which this game is played,'' Schottenheimer said. ''Tony has been playing, throwing and working and Jeff hasn't.''

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