Redskins Surprise Cowboys, 27-20
By Dave Brady
A majestic Washington defense chased starting quarterback Don Meredith out of the game at that juncture and brought on Craig Morton, who turned out to be the best substitute since margarine.
With 11 minutes, 13 seconds left in the game the Redskins' defenders, who had collapsed in four Washington losses and two ties, faced up to a fearful challenge. They responded nobly after giving up two touchdowns by Morton within 110 seconds and saved a 27-20 upset triumph through the last 4 minutes and 14 seconds.
Once more it was the Redskins playing their best game of the season before a national television audience, as they did here last December in upsetting the Cowboys 34-31.
For the second week in a row, the Redskins' defense was proving it could safeguard a lead over a lengthy haul.
Cowboy Passers Battered
Rickie Harris, Jim Shorter, Dick Smith, and Krause returned the compliment by making critical interceptions and linebackers Chris Hanburger, Ed Breding and Jim Carroll helped ease the burden of the other defensive units as the Cowboys controlled the ball for 73 plays to 38 for the Redskins.
The Redskins' offensive line gave Jurgensen splendid working room against a Dallas defense that had been leading the National Football League in throwing passers for losses. Not once was Jurgensen thrown for a loss as he completed 23 of 33 passes for 265 yards.
Cut Gap to Two Games
Two of the touchdown tosses were shagged by tight end Jerry Smith, who caught three other passes for a total of 66 yards. One went to running back A. D. Whitfield and the other to flanker Bobby Mitchell, who had seven receptions for 90 yards.
Before retiring in the fourth quarter, sore-armed Meredith passed six yards for a touchdown to flanker Lance Rentzel, who caught 12 others for a league record and 223 yards. Meredith completed 14 of 27 tosses for 189 yards and was intercepted twice.
Morton Intercepted Once
Defensive tackle Joe Rutgens was the fiercest of the Furies, bu there was steady pressure, too, from Ron Snidow, Walt Barnes and Carl Krammerer as Meredith was dumped three times and Morton five.
It was Danny Villanueva's ineffective leg and not Meredith's arm that first got the Cowboy's in trouble. Near the end of the first quarter, Villanueva got off a puny kick that carried only 25 yards, to the Dallas 42.
Cowboys Bounce Back
The Cowboys took the kickoff and went 74 yards for the score, mostly on passes. Rentzel maneuvered so sharply in the end zone from the six-yard line that cornerback Dick Smith fell on his face trying to recover as Rentzel caught the ball.
A bad snap from center Mike Connelly did not give the holder Jerry Rhome enough time to set it up properly on the conversion attempt and Rhome tried unsuccessfully to run for the point, leaving Dallas behind, 7-6.
Switched from cornerback to safety the today, Harris was almost victimized for a touchdown on a pass from Reeves to Rentzel, who had a step on Harris when he bobbled the ball over his shoulder and into Harris's hands for an interception. Harris was tackled on the Redskins' eight.
On the play before the two-minute warning, cornerback Shorter intercepted on Meredith and ran 11 yards to the Redskins' 49.
Jurgensen hit on four straight passes - to Mitchell for 12 yards, to split end Charley Taylor for five and the then to Mitchell for 30 before Smith lost Gaechter in the end zone on a four-yard touchdown play. Gene Mingo's conversion gave the Redskins a 14-6 halftime advantage.
In the third quarter, split end Bob Hayes caught a pass from Meredith for a 25-yard gain before first Hayes, and then Reeves, fumbled and Krause recovered on the Redskins' 25.
Jurgensen connected on six of seven passes, a 29-yarder and then a 14-yarder to Whitfield accounting for the last yards and a touchdown. Gaechter blocked Mingo's low kick and the Redskins led 20-6.
The Cowboys went 69 yards to the Redskins' four before left cornerback Smith made the toughest defensive play of the day. Former Olympian Hayes had a half step on Smith at the one when he reached out to take a pass from Meredith. But Smith dived with his back half turned to the hip-high toss and barely managed to grab the ball from the grasping hands of Hayes.
Cornerback Mike Johnson of Dallas got the ball back from the Redskins by intercepting on Jurgensen at the Redskins' 36.
The Cowboys began a 53-yard jaunt that ended in the fourth quarter when Dick Smith batted a pass back into Meredith's face on fourht down, giving possession to the Redskins on their own 12.
Jurgensen seized on the emotional pick-up and moved Washington 88 yards for a score.
He completed a 29-yard pass to Mitchell, a 13-yarder on a third down play to Jerry Smith which put the ball on the Dallas 15, and then hit Mitchell with a touchdown pass on a little curl-out pattern. Mitchell caught the ball just inside the flag on left cornerback Cornell Green.
When Mingo converted for a 27-6 bulge, there was 11:13 to go.
Morton came in for Meredith and took the Cowboys 80 yards in 16 plays, Clarke scoring on a 15-yard pass with 6:04 left. Redskins' fans back in Washington must have become apprehensive.
Villanueva converted to cut the Redskins' lead to 27:13, and within 1:50 the Cowboys had another touchdown after following an onside kick which John Burrell of the Redskins fumbled and linebacker Dave Edwards covered for for Dallas at the Washington 45.
Morton passed down the center between Harris and John Love, who had replaced injured Dick Smith, to Rentzel for 43 yards. A penalty for delaying the game set the Cowboys back to the six. But on second down Morton passed to tight end Norman for a score.
Villanueva's conversion touched off a bedlam.
But Krause snuffed out the Cowboys' next-to-last hope with his interception with 78 seconds left, and in the last 50 seconds the Cowboys were frustrated division leaders who were cut off by the Redskins and the clock at the Redskin 39.