LANDOVER, Md. -- Steve Spurrier cut the middle finger of his right hand while trying to rip off his headset over a holding penalty.
Spurrier's first NFL play was a simple run up the middle -- much to the coach's surprise.
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Shane Matthews threw three touchdown passes, and Stephen Davis overcame a third-quarter groin strain to get 150 total yards in an attack that wasn't as much Fun 'n' Gun or trickery as it was good, solid NFL offense.
"I remember every game that I ever coached -- all 220 I think I figured out," Spurrier said. "This is one to remember. It's a big deal that we won."
Matthews was 28-of-40 for 327 yards, and Rod Gardner had seven catches for 131 yards and a touchdown as the Redskins put up 442 yards of total offense. Davis, concerned he would be the forgotten man in a pass-happy offense, was the focal point with 26 carries for 104 yards and had seven catches for 46 yards.
"How many times did he carry? 25? 30?" Spurrier said. "Sometimes you can't believe what you hear or read. Hopefully we're not going to do anything stupid to lose the game."
Spurrier, coaching the first game of his record five-year, $25 million contract, was known for tossing his visor at Florida. His white visor did hit the ground in the fourth quarter Sunday after a bad third down play, but this game will be remembered more for the big bandage he wore around his finger after the headset calamity.
"They had that little sponge for padding," Spurrier said. "But I guess my finger went right through it."
Spurrier is now 4-0 in new-team debuts, having won his first games at Tampa Bay in the USFL and at college with Duke and Florida. He opened with a no-huddle offense and had a pass called for the first play, but Matthews changed the call at the line of scrimmage and gave it to Davis.
Then there was the injury to kicker Brett Conway, who experienced what he called "a total failure" in his leg in the first half. Conway, who was bothered by a hip injury during training camp, couldn't kick after his final meager extra point, prompting Wuerffel into emergency duty.
"It's dumb of us to not test him out thoroughly," Spurrier said. "We'll have another kicker in here next week."
Conway's injury let the Cardinals back into the game. Wuerffel's kickoff was so short that he had to make the tackle himself at Washington's 42-yard line, prompting Spurrier to throw his plays to the ground.
Three plays later, Arizona scored a touchdown on a 29-yard catch by David Boston to close a 15-point deficit to eight with 10:39 to go, making for a tense fourth quarter as Jake Plummer tried to engineer another comeback win. His final effort ended when Champ Bailey intercepted a pass deep in Cardinals territory with 56 seconds to play.
"All the talk was about Spurrier and the Washington Redskins. That hurt. Wasn't nobody looking at us to come out and play. They thought we were just going to come in and dress up," said defensive lineman Barron Tanner, who set up a touchdown with his first career interception in the first half. "But he needed all the points he could get today."
Plummer completed 14 of 36 passes for 187 yards and ran for one touchdown against a Marvin Lewis-coached defense that is supposed to be one of the best in the league. Boston, who led the NFL in yards receiving last year, caught seven passes for 138 yards.
Trailing 13-10 at halftime, the Redskins essentially won the game when the offensive machine ran most smoothly in the third quarter and early in the fourth. Davis scored on a 3-yard run, Gardner used his size to get position over the middle for a 43-yard touchdown reception in the end zone, and Derrius Thompson caught a 17-yard TD pass to make it 31-16.
"What we needed was a stop, and we never did get one early in the third quarter," Arizona coach Dave McGinnis said. "I'll have a lot of time on the plane to have this thing sit in my gut. I'm very, very bitter about this loss here because I thought we had a chance coming in here."
- Davis topped the 5,000-yard rushing mark for his career.
- Redskins injuries: LB Eddie Mason reinjured his sprained right shoulder, and DT Carl Powell bruised his leg.
- Cardinals injuries: FB Joel Makovicka, hamstring, out 5-to-7 days; FB Dennis McKinley, hamstring, 2-to-3 weeks; DE Fred Wakefield, bruised leg, out 2-3 days.
The Associated Press News Service
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