Redskins Do It Halfway Again : NFC: Rypien rallies Washington from 14-0 deficit in second half to beat Cardinals and clinch home-field advantage in playoffs, 20-14.
Even half a game is enough for the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins rallied to score all their points in the second half Sunday for a 20-14 victory over the Phoenix Cardinals that clinched the home-field advantage for Washington throughout the playoffs.
The week before, Washington had a 7-6 halftime lead over the Rams before winning, 27-6, to claim its first NFC East championship since 1987.
“All of a sudden, we came out, and it’s totally different,” said Mark Rypien, who passed for two touchdowns in the third quarter. “We took some time to take a look at what they’re doing, finding out where we can attack.”
Last week, Washington Coach Gibbs kicked a chair across the locker room at halftime to get his team fired up.
There were no halftime fireworks this time.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had any of that, anyway,” Gibbs said.
“At halftime, everybody was just . . . upset. They’re like, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to play great in the second half.’ ”
The Redskins (13-1) got even on Rypien’s touchdown passes of four yards to Terry Orr and 17 yards to Ricky Sanders in the third quarter, and Chip Lohmiller produced the winning points on a 42-yard field goal with 9:04 to play.
Lohmiller, who missed a 42-yarder in the first half, kicked a 27-yarder 1:59 after his 42-yarder following Brad Edwards’ 25-yard interception return to the Phoenix 16-yard line.
It was the second pass interception thrown by rookie Stan Gelbaugh, who has started the last three games for the Cardinals (4-10), and free agent Chris Chandler played the rest of the game for the Cardinals.
Johnny Johnson scored on a one-yard dive and a three-yard sweep to give Phoenix its 14-0 lead in the second quarter, but that was it for the Cardinals.
“You have to give the Redskins credit,” Bugel said. “They’re a heck of a machine and 14 points is just not enough to stay in the ballgame with them.”
Gibbs said Bugel, his assistant from 1981 through 1989 with the Redskins, sprang a new formation on him--a “diamond safety.”
“That’s an extra eighth man close to the line of scrimmage in the middle,” Gibbs said of the defense which held the Redskins to 121 yards and no points in the first half. “It took away our power run. We really weren’t prepared for it.”
The Redskins, who have outscored opponents 429-183, gained 263 yards after the break.
Earnest Byner rushed for 116 yards for the Redskins and Rypien completed 22 of 31 passes for 256 yards to send Phoenix (4-10) to its sixth consecutive loss.
“We had a good run-defense game plan set for ‘em, and they didn’t want to run the football against it,” Cardinal defensive end Jeff Faulkner said. “They went to that ‘bunch’ look and checked off and started hitting us in the flats.”
The outcome was still in question until Rypien passed 14 yards to Gary Clark for a first down on a third-and-four play with 1:59 remaining.
“If we could have held them there, with some ticks on the clock, we had time left,” Bugel said. “You have to give them credit, but give us credit too, because our team grew today.”