Smith TD 'Wrecks' Dolphins
By Leonard Shapiro
Deacon Jones once called Smith "a walking wreck." Yesterday, his teammates and every football fanatic in this town who roots for the Redskins were calling him hero, and Sonny Jurgensen savior, after the 20-17 defeat of the Miami Dolphins.
They combined on a six-yard touchdown pass--Jurgensen pitching, Smith catching and pounding barely to the goal line with 16 seconds to play--to provide the points needed to beat the world champion Dolphins at RFK Stadium.
The Redskins rallied from deficits of 10-0 and 17-13, trailing by the latter score with 1:46 to play. Then Jurgensen, the old master, drove them 60 yards in the waning seconds to the touchdown that left the 54,395 in attendance and all of the Redskins delirious and the Dolphins stunned.
The Redskins' third victory in five games also kept them in semi close pursuit of the St. Louis Cardinals, who won their fifth straight yesterday. But the Redskins now firmly believe, as The Deacon preached out loud to anyone who cared to listen, "We've only just begun."
"Here's what this game is going to do for us," team captain Charley Taylor said. "It's going to put a stop to all the second-guessing and bitching that's been going on (among the players) around here. Everybody's one cohesive thing right now. That's what I'm praying anyway."
The Redskins also would be wise to pray for Jurgensen, especially for his weak knees and 40-year-old arm. When disaster reared its ugly head as Bob Griese threw 13 yards to Howard Twilley in the end zone with 13:14 elapsed in the final period, Jurgensen spat in its face.
He completed six of seven passes on that final drive, and for the day 26 of 39 for 303 yards and another touchdown--a 37-yard toss to Roy Jefferson to tie the game at 10-all early in the fourth period.
Jefferson caught seven of those passes for 111 yards, his last a 16-yard reception that gave the Redskins a first down at the Miami six with 28 seconds to play. The Redskins were out of timeouts.
On First down, Jurgensen sent Smith out of the backfield, but as he released the ball, Dolphin linebacker Doug Swift, as he later admitted, tackled the fullback. But the referee did not blow his whistle.
On second down, Smith again came out as a receiver, although he was not the primary target. Jerry Smith, open on a post pattern, was supposed to get the ball. But Jurgensen hit Larry Smith anyway and he barely wormed over the goal line with Swift and Nick Buoniconti trying to keep him out.
Mark Moseley, who earlier kicked field goals of 40 and 41 yards, added his second extra point, and the Redskins sent the Dolphins back to Miami with their second loss in five games.
"Sonny just made a great throw, he threw it perfect." Larry Smith said in a voice that was barely audible above the locker-room din. "I had no doubt that I was in. The only doubt was what kind of call the official would make."
Buoniconti protested vehemently to no avail. The Dolphins had time enough for two more plays, but Griese threw incomplete to Marlin Briscoe, then was smothered by Diron Talbert as the game ended.
The Redskins looked like a beaten football team after Garo Yepremian kicked a 32-yard field goal early in the third quarter for a 10-0 lead.
The running attack was almost nonexistent--the Redskins did not get a first down rushing and managed 26 yards in 18 carries for the day--and Jurgensen had thrown three interception in the first half.
But a 57-yard kickoff return by rookie Larry Jones set up Moseley's 40-yard field goal that cut the lead to seven points, and Brad Dusek's recovery of Bob Matheson's fumble on the following kickoff gave the Redskins a first down at the Miami 33.
Two plays later, Miami safety Jake Scott slipped down as Jefferson was running a post pattern, and Jurgensen hit his receiver smartly for a 37-yard touchdown. Moseley's extra point tied the game.
The fourth quarter produced even more bizarre happenings, not the least of which was the ejection of Larry Brown for throwing a punch at Miami cornerback Henry Stuckey after an overzealous tackle on the sidelines.
Game officials said Stuckey would have been called for a personal foul, but Brown's violation took precedence over Stuckey's.
The teams then traded turnovers, Swift recovering a Jefferson fumble, Ken Stone intercepting a Griese pass and returning it 21 yards to the Miami 40.
Moseley missed a 45-yard field goal six plays later, and the Dolphins drove 72 yards in eight plays--aided by a five-yard holding penalty against cornerback Mike Bass--ending with Twilley's touchdown.
Redskin coach George Allen blocked all those dreaded mistakes out of his mind in his postgame comments, however.
"You saw one of the great games," he said. "I can't recall a more rewarding victory...we weren't to be denied."
"I don't think a younger team would have won this game," Jones added. "It's without a doubt the most exciting game I've ever been in. It was something to behold."
"But I never lost faith. None of us did. It never came into my mind that we wouldn't pull that one out. What a day, man, what a game."