1990 NFC Wild Card Game
January 5, 1991
In their Monday night game eight weeks earlier, the Redskins got physically
crushed by the Philadelphia Eagles in the "Body Bag" game. That was
bad enough, but the Eagles chose to rub it in their faces, taunting and trash
talking until the final gun on the field and in the locker room afterwards.
Sometimes, things just fall into place. Washington qualified for the playoffs
as a wild card entry, and the seedings called for the Redskins to return
to the scene of the crime, Veterans Stadium, for a first-round playoff contest.
They would have their shot at revenge.
When facing the press in the days prior to a game, Gibbs was usually
overly gracious in his comments about the opposition, making a 2-10 outfit
sound like the ‘60's Packers and their coach the second coming of St. Vincent.
Not this week, though. When asked about Ryan, Gibbs stood stone-faced
talking about the challenges ahead.
One reporter caught Gibbs in an unguarded moment. It was January
3, the day before the game. Snow had fallen on New Year's Eve and the
journalist noted that the snow still covered Gibbs' car in the parking lot at
Redskins Park. In the hallway, the more Gibbs talked about Buddy, the
madder he got. "I live to play a game like this one. I live to play this guy."
Gibbs said, turning red faced with rage. While this was hardly headline
material or Eagle bulletin board fodder, it was very telling of the mood of the
coach and the team. They were clearly a team on a mission as they entered
the Vet for the game.
It took them a quarter to get untracked as Philadelphia got two field
goals for a 6-0 lead, but the defense stiffened after that, sacking Eagles QB
Randall Cunningham five times and forcing three turnovers. Mark Rypien
threw two scoring passes and Ernest Byner and Gerald Riggs shared the
rushing duties and combined for 94 yards on the ground.
A turnover reversed by replay was the game's turning point. The
Redskins had taken a 7-6 lead and were driving for more when the ball
popped loose from Byner's grasp when he was tackled at the Philadelphia
six. Cornerback Ben Smith scooped the ball up and ran 94 yards for an
apparent touchdown. Fortunately for the Redskins, instant replay showed
that the ground caused the fumble and the call was reversed, with the
Redskins retaining possession. The reversal became a 10-point turnaround
as Chip Lohmiller connected on a short field goal and instead of a six-point
deficit the Redskins had a four-point lead. The Eagles' offense never could
get untracked and the Redskins won 20-6.
During a players-only meeting in the week before the game, the team
had made a pact that they would not sink to the level of Philly and deliver "I
told you so's" to the classless Eagles after the game. But the message was
delivered to Buddy and his losing team after the game with a certain degree
Clark said. "You'd better not question someone's character unless you're
sure of the character you're talking about. This team has character, and
hopefully this is just one step."
And Coleman said, ""People threw dirt on this team all year but they
didn't know we had shovels and would keep digging our way out."
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