The Eagles won. Ray Rhodes can relax a little.
Norv Turner cannot.
Philadelphia won the first matchup of 0-5 teams in NFC East history on Sunday as Rodney Peete ran for a touchdown and threw for another in a 17-12 victory that gave the Redskins their worst start in 37 years.
The Eagles (1-5) no longer have the ugly prefix "winless" in front of their name. The Redskins do, and that's why Turner's job is still in jeopardy.
"It is a low moment," Washington's Brian Mitchell said. "I hate losing. We were the best team out there, we just didn't win."
Here, Mitchell paraphrased a Philadelphia hero known as "Sign Man," who captured the essence and gravity of this game with his usual beauty of a banner in the stands across from the Eagles bench.
"May the worst team lose," it proclaimed.
It is up for debate whether that happened.
"I wouldn't say it's a relief. It's about time, that's what it is," said Eagles receiver Irving Fryar, who played for a 1-15 team in New England.
"I feel like we just won a playoff game," cornerback Troy Vincent said. "It's been so long."
Some fans in the crowd of 66,123 at Veterans Stadium wore paper bags over their heads that read, "Bag Bowl." T-shirts costing $5 touted the game as the "Loser Bowl."
No one was happier with the outcome than Rhodes, whose job has been saved -- for now.
"When you're 0-5, I don't care who you are, there's an urgency to get a win," said Rhodes, who snapped an eight-game losing streak dating to last season. "Now we have to continue and get through this thing and turn it around."
The ltest episode in "what's wrong with the Redskins?" can be summarized in a few snapshots: Trent Green's stumble, Terry Allen's fumble, Gus Frerotte's desperation drive that fell about a yard short.
Turner benched Green, brought back Frerotte and got a sack from Dana Stubblefield. None of it mattered. The Redskins are in danger of having one of the worst years in franchise history despite spending $57 million on free agents Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson.
| Philadelphia's Rodney Peete celebrates his 19-yard touchdown run against the Redskins with Ian Beckles. (AP) |
Washington hadn't started 0-6 since it lost the first nine games and went 1-12-1 in 1961.
"The mood is frustrating, just what you'd expect the mood to be," said Turner, whose job becomes more endangered with each loss. "Every time you lose, it hurts."
Green had a miserable day, falling down at midfield on a drive that led to the Eagles' first touchdown. Frerotte, benched in the opening loss to the Giants, didn't fare much better, although he did direct a late touchdown drive that made it a 5-point game with 2:46 remaining.
Peete, who replaced Bobby Hoying as the Eagles' starter this week, was 15-of-28 for 121 yards. He rushed for Philly's first touchdown and sealed the victory with a 3-yard TD pass to Kaseem Sinceno.
Green was 12-of-21 for 115 yards, while Frerotte was 7-of-16 for 73 yards. Turner said Frerotte would start next week at Minnesota.
"I'm excited about being in, but I'm kind of angry at the situation we're in," Frerotte said.
After Mitchell's 1-yard TD run cut it to 17-12, Frerotte kept the ball on a 2-point attempt and was stopped. The Redskins had one last chance with 66 seconds left from their 40. Frerotte completed a pass to Jamie Asher on fourth-and-7, but he was stopped about a yard short.
The Redskins didn't like the spot, they also thought Frerotte was in the end zone on the 2-point try, and were distbured by other calls.
"I thought the calls stunk," Mitchell said. "They always talk about keeping the players in line in this league. We've got to take drug tests, steroid tests, we've got to answer to everything. These refs can make whatever kind of calls they want, and they don't have to answer to anybody."
Early in the first quarter, dropping back near midfield, Green tripped over one of the many raised seams in the Veterans Stadium turf. The "sack" was credited to Hollis Thomas, making it third-and-18.
"You can go to a lot of football games and not see that happen," Turner said.
Green was then sacked by Al Wallace, knocking the ball loose. It was scooped up by 278-pound defensive tackle Branon Whiting, who lumbered 24 yards to the Redskins 21.
Two plays later, Peete ran in untouched to make it 7-0.
On Washington's next possession, Allen fumbled at the Eagles 1 as he squirmed for extra yardage. Brian Dawkins recovered it in the end zone.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved