Redskins Fall in Last 10 Seconds
By Dave Brady
From the Redskins' 36-yard line on fourth down, dandy Don Meredith fled from a pass rush, paused long enough to unload to halfback Dan Reeves, who had been neglected too long by defenders, and Reeves easily defeated right linebacker Chris Hanburger in a 12-yard race to the front flag at the corner of the end zone.
Danny Villanueva converted to give the Cowboys their second three-point lead in the second half and there were ten seconds to go.
Precious Seconds Lost
Seven seconds were left when the routine stopping of the clock occurred to position the ball and allow the offensive and defensive tearms to take the field.
Sonny Jurgensen went to split end Charley Taylor, the leading reciever in the league. He had lined up on the right side of the field and when he got running room he went 35 yards before trying to get out of bounds.
Redskins Drop to 3rd
The Redskins appeared to have a triumph nailed down with 70 seconds to go when Jurgensen threw an eight-yard scoring pass to Taylor for a 14-10 lead. The touchdown was set up on a 41-yard punt return by Rickie Harris and a fourth down gamble on which Jurgensen threw 13 yards to Bobby Mitchell on the Cowboys 13-yard line.
Graham did not dwell on Kelly's decision to run with the kickoff but did call Taylor's decision not to run out of bounds sooner "one of those mental errors."
Despite the races against the clocks by both teams, the Redskins had two timeouts left when the game ended and the Cowboys three.
It was the fourth straight game between the clubs decided by three points or fewer. The Redskins won, 34-31, on a 21-point fourth quarter after trailing, 21-0, here in 1965; lost here, 31-30, in 1966, and won in Dallas, 34-31, last December.
There was a special irony wrought as the Redskins' defense finally cracked, because although it ranked No. 14 in the National Football League before yesterday, the defensive players nearly bailed out the offense that had been ranked No. 2 in the league.
It was a savage defensive struggle in which the Redskins' budding running game was choked off with 16 yards and both quarterbacks were thrown three times in attempting to pass, Meredith for 32 yards and Jergensen for 23.
Smith Intercepts Two
Right end Carl Kammerer marked his return to the defensive line for the first time this season with a splendid performance.
Other defensive standouts were tackle Joe Rutgens, end Ron Snidow, linebackers Sam Huff and Hanburger, and halfbacks Jim Shorter and Paul Krause.
End George Andrie of the Cowboys' defense was a constant smotherer of Redskins' plays.
But split end Taylor tried to dance his way to running room after catching a pass from Jurgensen and fumbled at the Cowboys 29-yard line, where defensive back Mike Johnson of Dallas recovered.
The Redskins appeared to get a break when Villanueva got off a 35-yard punt to the Cowboys' 49. But Jurgensen was charged with a fumble in a messed handoff to fullback McDonald and defensive lineman Jethro Pugh recovered.
Meredith got the Cowboys down to the Redskins' seven yard line but defensive back Smith came up with his first interception to take Washington out of trouble before the scoreless first quarter ended.
Love Misses 24-Yarder
The next time the Redskins got the ball Jurgensen took them 78 yards on eight plays and two penalties for a touchdown.
Halfback A. D. Whitfield took a pass from Jergensen for 26 yards to the Cowboys' 41, Love another pass for 33 yards to the two-yard line, and fullback McDonald vaulted over bodies from a yard out for the score.
Split end Taylor and flanker Love switched into "prevent" defense near the end of the first half when the Cowboys were threatening to score. From 40 yards, Villanueva tried a field goal but it hit the left upright and bounced back onto the playing field.
Cowboys Tie Score
A 29-yard punt by Pat Richter of the Redskins gave the Cowboys good field position, at the Redskins' 46. Linebacker Jim Carroll force Meredith to waste a pass, safety Don Perkins for a two-yard loss, and right cornerback Shorter, after slipping, made up ground and batted away a pass by Meredith to Rentzel in the end zone. Villanueva kicked a 27-yard field goal to put Dallas ahead, 10-7, before the period ended.
In the fourth quarter, Shorter broke up a long pass to split end Bob Hayes, who was held to three receptions; defensive end Andrie of the Cowboys personally wrecked a Redskins' offensive series, and defensive back Cornell Green intercepted a pass from Jurgensen to flanker Love before Harris got thr Redskins going with a 41-yard punt return to the Dallas 24-yard line.
Gamble Pays Off
Jurgensen justified the gamble by passing 13 yards running back Mitchell, who beat rookie defensive back Phil Clark and linebacker Lee Roy Jordan before being brought down by Jordan.
Fullback McDonald bullied his way five yards to the eight and it was no contest as Taylor shook off defensive back Johnson and took a pass from Jurgensen in the end zone for a touchdown.
There was one minute and ten seconds left after Love converted to give the Redskins a 14-10 advantage.
Craig Baynham ran Taylor's kickoff back six yards to the Cowboys' 29. Baynham then took a pass for 17 yards. Rentzel dropped a high pass by Meredith, then caught one against defender Smith for 12 yards to the Redskins 42-yard line.
Again Meredith went to Rentzel and he beat Smith on a six-yard reception to the Redskins' 26. Defensive end Kammerer slammed into Meredith, causing his pass to go awry and 26 seconds remained.
Reeves sprinted out of the backfield to be a receiver, but Kammerer and tackle Rutgens floored Meredith, his pass going incomplete.
Reeves Delays Start
Meredith later said he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw Reeves so far down field and unattended, but he got the ball to him and after Reeves outran Hanburger for a touchdown, there were only ten seconds left.