Steffen Leads Redskins Over Dallas
By Jack Walsh
Defensive units of both teams waged a magnificent duel with the Redskins proving just enough tougher to send their National Football League record to 2-1.
The chastened Cowboys went back to Texas still winless after three NFL starts and hardly the Eastern Conference threats they were called at the beginning of the season.
The Redskins had offensive stars who made clutch plays in two long scoring drives after intermission: quarterback Norman Snead, booed vigorously before the game even started, fullback Don Bosseler, halfback Dick James and ends Bill Anderson and Pat Richter.
But it was a day for the defenders and Steffen was the brightest star. The 5-year pro who cost the Redskins the $100 waiver price to the Detroit Lions, turned in his greatest game on a game leg.
Steffen Takes Off
It followed what appeared to be a 23-yard Cowboy scoring pass from Meredith to Bill Howton that was nullified by an interference penalty called on another end, Pettis Norman.
Steffen's third interception came with 1:46 left in the game and choked off the last Dallas threat. On this one, rookie Redskin wingback Lonnie Sanders deflected the pass intended for Frank Clarke and Steffen gathered it in and ran 25 yards to the Redskin 47.
LeBaron, Gibbs Benched
Steffen wasn't complaining. His second interception of a Meredith pass came late in the second period. This was a diving one he got lying on the ground and could scramble only for seven yards when he got up.
In addition, Steffen made more than his usual quota of jarring tackles, Steffen, 26, admitted after the g ame he hadn't been able to run since last Wednesday because of a bone chip on his right leg. He was hurt in the Rams' game.
Regular wingback John Sample, who has knee trouble, didn't dress for the game and replacement Claude Crabb suffered a knee injury that forced Dick James on defense. "Things were bad enough without letting them know I was hurt," Steffen said.
Good Line Rush
On one such play, he hit Howton for a 43-yard score. Andy Stynchula, a strong rusher all afternoon, had him but Meredith got his pitch off. On what seemed almost a busted play, Howton scampered across field when Sanders was blocked out and Crabb couldn't catch the old pro who marked the day by breaking the total yardage mark of Hall of Famer Don Hutson.
Howton, now in his 12th NFL season, has caught 478 passes for 8,067 yards. Hutson's total was 7,991 on 488 catches so Howton needs only 11 receptions to smash this mark, too.
After the first down on the 11, Dallas' Don Perkins, leading gainer with 105 yards on 25 carries, smacked to the one to set it up for Marsh.
Another long first period march was stymied by an old-fashioned goalline stand after the Cowboys had three shots from the one.
The Cowboys' only other score was Sam Baker's 41-yard field goal at the outset of the third period.
Snead, roundly booed when introduced before the game, got more of the same late in the first half. After Snead was shaken up, George Izo replaced him and received a great ovation. Izo overshot Bobby Mitchell on one play and then was hit for a 5-yard loss before Snead took over.
Offensive Line Stiffens
But the offensive line dug in mightily in the second half, and Snead came back to silence the vocal critics.
It was a game performance and when it was all over, Snead said: "We won. When that happens, I don't mind the booing. They can do it all they want."
There weren't any boos heard during the Snead-directed 70-yard march in the third period or the winning 80-yard march in the last quarter.
The first one was kept alive at the outset when it was third down and 10 to go and Snead hit James for a 13-yard gain to the Redskin 43.
Diving Bosseler Catch
Dallas forged ahead again on Howton's score but was stopped later and Baker missed a 40-yard field goal try.
That's when Snead, with big assists from hustling Billy Barnes and Jim Cunningham, wrapped it up. Barnes ran for 10 and took a swing pass for a first downat the Dallas 13. It followed rookie Richter's lone reception, and 18-yard gain.
Barnes, on three tries, barely got the first down at the three. Bosseler gained a yard but Barnes lost it back and Snead, a bit indecisive about passing or running, finally took off and was belted out at the one.
Spurning a field goal shot with 7:22 left, Coach Bill McPeak told Snead to go and Snead handed off to jarring Jim Cunningham for the big one-yard score.
It wasn't easy and it wasn't easy to hold off Dallas, either. But the defense, inspired by Steffen, made a go of it.
After Bobby Mitchell reverted to a ball-carrying role by taking a reverse 21 yards, Bobby Khayat missed a 37-yard field goal try.
But captain Bob Toneff and his defensive crew were in a victory mood.