Charles Mann: We Called Deion Sanders Toast

Charles Mann played in the NFL for 12 seasons. The former defensive end spent 11 years in Washington, where he was a four-time Pro Bowler, and he spent his final year, 1994, in San Francisco, where he won his third Super Bowl.

Thus, Mann played in a lot of big games during his NFL career.

One of his most favorite games, though, was a divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons at RFK Stadium in January 1992. The Falcons were coming off a 27-20 win over the Saints in the Superdome, while the Redskins, who went 14-2 that season, were coming off a first-round bye.

“The game against Atlanta was the most memorable from a couple of different vantage points,” Mann said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They had Deion Sanders, who was beginning to be Prime Time. They had M.C. Hammer, who was trying to do a video during the course of the game and before the game and whatnot. So they show up, they’ve got a coach that’s leaving tickets for Elvis – it was just a really weird thing. It would have been different if they were doing this in Atlanta, but they came to our house trying to perform and do all these things with M.C. Hammer on their sidelines, and we let them have it. I mean, we went after them.”

Washington, which beat Atlanta 56-17 during the regular season, won the rematch 24-7, holding the Falcons scoreless after halftime.

“Deion was calling himself Prime Time; we were calling him toast because he was getting burnt all over the place,” Mann recalled. “Art Monk and Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders made him have a long day. That game really kind of set the stage (for our playoff run).”

The Redskins went on to beat the Lions, 41-10, in the NFC Championship and the Bills, 37-24, in Super Bowl XXVI.

“Joe Gibbs did a great job of making us really be worried and concerned about the Buffalo Bills, and more importantly, concerned about their red-gun offense,” Mann said. “Nowadays we call that a no-huddle offense, but they called it the red gun – and we were concerned. We were concerned that (Jim) Kelly would get in the shotgun and they would run that red gun, they would call the plays at the line of scrimmage, and our tongues would be hanging out because we never got a chance to rest. But (defensive coordinator Richie) Petitbon and the defensive coaches saw some unique things in that game that they thought we could exploit and take advantage of. And in my NFL history, my 12-year NFL history, I never played on a defense where we only had two down linemen. That means two defensive linemen, five linebackers and the rest were defensive backs. We called it a 25 defense. We stopped their run. They never couldn’t run the ball. We had five linebackers running through the line. Thurman Thomas could not find his helmet in the first couple plays of the opening series and finally got his helmet, but we just stopped him. I don’t know what he had, but he had very little yards.”

Thomas rushed 10 times for 13 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for Buffalo, that touchdown didn’t come until the third quarter, when the Bills trailed 24-3.

“Kelly knew he was going to have a long day,” Mann said. “We beat them playing a 25 defense, which was very odd.”

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