Gogolak's Late Kick Subdues Cowboys, 34-31
By Dave Brady
But A.D. Whitfield ran 30 yards against the best rushing defense in the league today and from the Dallas 24-yard line like Sonny Jurgensen used a prevent offense to keep the ball away from the Cowboys until only eight seconds remained.
Then gutsy little Charlie Gogolak flouted the pressure and the taunts of a crowd of 64,198 in the Cotton Bowl, kicking a 29-yard field goal four seconds later for the 34-31 triumph that conceded the Cowboys only a tie for the title.
Dallas now needs either a Cleveland victory over St. Louis on Saturday or a victory to tie in its game at New York next Sunday to sew up the crown.
The Redskins were getting even for a 31-30 victory that the Cowboys snatched from them a motnh ago in Washington and assuring themselves of the best record for a Washington team since 1956, when the Redskins won six and lost six.
They now have a 7-6 log and at the worst will come out of next Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles in D.C. Stadium with a final 7-7 record.
Meredith Racked Up
The Redskins' defense outplayed them in the first half, 10-7, and linebacker Sam Huff sidelined Dallas quarterback Don Meredith on a hard tackle.
By the second half the Redskins had abandoned their new offense that had Bobby Mitchell as a running back. They returned him to his flanker spot and matched Dallas point for point.
Cowboys Start Slow
The Dallas fans could not blame the loss on the absence of Meredith in the second half because his alternating substitutes, Jerry Rhome and Craig Morton, led the Cowboys to 24 points to keep pace with the Redskins.
The Cowboys did not get a first down until the second quarter, when they went 51 yards to a touchdown. It came on a 20-yard run by fullback Don Perkins, his first of two scores.
Midway in the period, the Dallas blockers left Meredith exposed to the driving shoulder of defensive lineman Ron Snidow. It hit Meredith in the belly and he gave up the ball. Carl Kammerer recoverd it for the Redskins on the Dallas 40.
Joe Don Looney, who replaced Mitchell as a running back, fumbled a big scoring opportunity at the Dallas five. But the Redskins' defense dug in again and threw the Cowboys into a fourth-and-43 situation at their one-yard line. On the previous play Snidow almost threw Meredith into the end zone for a safety.
Kammerer Blocks Punt
Shortly before the end of the half, Meredith passed 37 yards to running back Dan Reeves for an apparent touchdown, but rookie tackle Ralph Neely nullified it by being detected downfield as an ineligible receiver.
Two plays later, Huff drove his head into Meredith's belly with such force that the quarterback was whipped backward and hit the back of his head on the ground so hard that he passed out. He had to be helped off the field after being revived.
In the third quarter cornerback Mike Gaechter intercepted a Jurgensen pass and ran the ball 18 yards to the Redskins' 19. But the leading offense in the NFL could not gain a yard in three downs and Villanueva kicked a 26-yard field gaol that tied the scoe at 10-10.
Cowboys Come Alive
But now the Redskins were putting things together, too, and they went 76 yards to score. One could have said that Whitfield was getting personal revenge on the Cowboys for letting him go to the Redskins when he fled 41 yards to the Dallas 11. From there, Jurgensen turned to Mitchell now back at his old flanker post and the double-duty guy left defensive back Cornell Green baffled as he did a zag and a zig to get free for an 11-yard touchdown catch.
That made it a new game, 17-17, as the fourth quarter opened.
But the Cowboys were in high gear now and in two plays went 74 yards for a score, only 7 by Perkins but 67 by Reeves, who gave cornerback Jim Shorter the shake at the Redskins' 41 and finally jogged over the goal line after looking back and seeing no one in close pursuit.
At his best in a high-scoring game, Jurgensen began going for the big play. He hit split end Taylor with a pass and Taylor had his kind of a field, wide open except for a flat-footed official who forced Taylor to detour around him. By the time that Talor negotiated their bypass, his pursuers caught up with him at the end of a 53-yard play that put the ball on the Dallas 28.
Jurgensen then turned to Jerry Smith for a 17-yard pass to move down to the 11-yard line and went to him again for the remaining distance. It was a throw that Smith took between Gaechter and Warren Livingston.
Gogolak came on to tie the score, 31-31, and did not have anything to do for 3 minutes and 11 seconds until he was called upon to visit embarrassment on the Cowboys with his 29-yard kick that by itself seemed to justify the No. 1 draft choice the Redskins used to obtain the 158-pound Princetonian.
The almost immediate consequence was that the Cowboys found themselves being booed as they retreated to their dressing room with a tie for the conference title.
Almost as immediate was the wondering of how they expect to make a respectable showing against the Green Bay Packers in the NFL title game if they make it.