HALL OF FAME GAME Joe Gibbs successful in return to coaching
Washington beat Denver, 20-17, in a last-second field goal at Fawcett Stadium.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CANTON -- He has a little less hair and a few more wrinkles, but Joe Gibbs started his second stint with the Washington Redskins the same way he ended his first.
With a win.
Gibbs won his first NFL game in 12 years when backup kicker Ola Kimrin made a last-second, 39-yard field goal to give the Redskins a 20-17 victory over the Denver Broncos in Monday's Hall of Fame game at Fawcett Stadium.
"It's a little different being back out there in the heat of battle, like taking a mental test," said Gibbs, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996. "You really struggle when you can't get things going."
The game itself wasn't exactly pretty.
Light on offense
Washington did not score an offensive touchdown and the Broncos' lone touchdown came in the closing minutes, tying the score at 17.
"We were kind of nervous and uptight," Gibbs said. "But it was good being back out there."
The teams also combined for 22 penalties for 189 yards.
"The second half looked like Flag Day," said Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. "We were sloppy out there."
Trailing 17-9 late in the game, Denver's fourth-string quarterback, Mike Quinn, led the Broncos on a 13-play, 58-yard touchdown drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jeb Putzier. Denver tied the score on a two-point conversion pass from Quinn to Charlie Adams.
"Denver's a pretty stout outfit," Gibbs said. "They really fought hard."
Washington's third-string quarterback, Tim Hasselbeck, led the Redskins to the winning drive in the closing seconds, reaching the 21-yard line to set up Kimrin's kick.
"To get a win in Coach's first game back means a lot to all of us," said Redskins linebacker LaVarr Arrington. "We came out with the victory and that's all that matters."
Gibbs retired from the Redskins after the 1992 season after leading Washington to four Super Bowls, winning three. He's just the second coach already enshrined to coach in the Hall of Fame game -- Paul Brown was the other -- and the first to win the game.
"It means a lot for me, because our guys worked extremely hard in the off-season and they went out and played extremely hard," Gibbs said. "It's a tough deal over there, but it was fun being back."
Washington's starting quarterback, Mark Brunell, was 4-for-8 for 18 yards before being replaced early in the second quarter. Running back Clinton Portis, who was traded from Denver to the Redskins for defensive back Champ Bailey in the off-season, ran four times for 11 yards.
Newly signed defensive back Shawn Springs, an Ohio State graduate and former Seattle Seahawk, intercepted a pass from Broncos starter Jake Plummer in the first quarter, setting up the game's first score -- a 39-yard field goal by John Hall.
But the biggest splash came from fifth-round pick Sean Taylor, who had two interceptions off Broncos rookie quarterback Mike Mauck. He scored a touchdown from 3 yards out on the second pick.
"Phenomenal," Arrington said of Taylor's performance. "That sums it up in one word."
Offensive tackle hurt
The one bad piece of news for the Redskins came after a first quarter injury to right tackle Jon Jansen, who injured his Achilles' tendon and will likely miss the rest of the season.
"That's a big blow," Gibbs said. "We're going to need some other guys to step up."
Plummer finished 5-for-8 for 24 yards before being replaced late in the first quarter. Portis' replacement at running back, Quentin Griffin, rushed six times for 46 yards and had a touchdown run called back by penalty.
"Overall, I was fairly pleased," Shanahan said. "We did move the ball. But we did make too many mistakes, including one very big turnover."