WASHINGTON — The mission was to get Art Monk's NFL receptions record out of the way, preferably Monday night, the better to concentrate on playing the Philadelphia Eagles next week.
The Washington Redskins were single-minded about it.
"We padded those last three plays for him," said Redskin Coach Joe Gibbs after Monk caught three passes in a row in a fourth-quarter drive. The third, a 10-yard reception near the Denver Bronco sideline with 3:12 to play, was the 820th of Monk's career, moving his past former Seattle Seahawk Steve Largent.
In the Redskins' bigger picture, they play a key division against the Eagles, and "we just wanted to get this behind us and not let the pressure build for next week," Gibbs said.
After Monk caught Mark Rypien's pass, Redskins' teammates raced across the field to congratulate him and lift him to their shoulders.
"I knew it was for the record. It was a play designed for me to catch," Monk said after the Redskins had beaten Denver, 34-3. "I'm glad it's over. I was nervous before the game--that's something I'm not used to. I was glad to be able to do it here."
Monk had four catches before the fourth-quarter drive.
Those who remained in the stands of the blowout roared with the catch, which followed a play in which the RFK Stadium message board alerted them to the impending record.
Monk, whose stone-faced stare marks his typical on-field posture, was grinning broadly and holding the ball to his chest.
In his 13-year career, Monk, 34, has totaled 11,211 yards, an average of 13.7 yards per catch, and 60 touchdowns. He has caught at least one pass in 137 consecutive ames, third on the list behind Largent (177) and Ozzie Newsome (150).
Monk said emotions ran high in the huddle before the play:
"Oh, it was something. They called it, and someone, I think it was (tight end) Ron Middleton said, 'This is it.' That kind of put the pressure on me."
"That was the toughest part of the game," Rypien said. "I had tunnel vision on that one. Desmond (Howard) was wide open in the end zone, but all I saw was No. 81."
Monk finished the night with seven catches for 69 yards.
Two assistant coaches at the game, Raymond Berry of the Broncos and Charley Taylor of the Redskins, were previous record holders.
Monk's has at least 50 catches in nine seasons, second only to Largent's 10.
The Redskins (3-2) won behind Rypien's 16-for-26 passing for 245 yards. He threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Gary Clark and twice sneaked in from a yard out to score.
The defense, led by Wilbur Marshall, had five sacks and created four turnovers that either accounted for or led to 17 Washington points against the Broncos (4-2).
NFL Career Receiving Leaders 1. *Art Monk: 820 2. Steve Largent: 819 3. Charlie Joiner: 750 4. *James Lofton: 723 5. Ozzie Newsome: 662 6. Charley Taylor: 649 7. Don Maynard: 633 8. Raymond Berry: 631 9. H. Carmichael: 590 10. Fred Biletnikoff: 589 11. Harold Jackson: 579 12. Lionel Taylor: 567 13. Wes Chandler: 559 14. *Drew Hill: 558 15. Stanley Morgan: 557 16. *Roy Green: 551 17. *Jerry Rice: 549 18. J.T. Smith: 544 19. Lance Alworth: 542 20. Kellen Winslow: 541 * active