Cowboys Catch Redskins at Pass, 41-28
By Dave Brady
Sonny Jurgensen was slightly wonderful yesterday when he was throwing to the Redskins, merely accurate when he was throwing to the Dallas Cowboys.
He nearly pitched the Redskins back into serious contention for the Capitol Division title with four touchdown passes, which nearly erased a 17-point deficit, but then he wild-pitched them just about out of the running with four passes that were intercepted, three in the fourth quarter.
If the Redskins lacked a sense of history with President Nixon sitting in the stands at RFK Stadium and becoming the first Chief Executive to attend a regular season National Football League game while in office, the Cowboys did not and gratefully made off with a 41-28 victory.
Dallas boosted its record to 8-1 and its lead over Washington (4-3-2) to three full games with five games to play.
The 15-yard-penalty put the ball back to the Dallas 48.
The Redskins began making trouble for themselves after that. Curt Knight's field-goal attempt from 48 yards was blocked and recovered by the Cowboys on the Redskins' 37. Hanburger then was charged with roughing passer Craig Morton and Dallas had a first down on the Washington 22.
Rookie running back Calvin Hill took it from there, scoring from seven yards on his fifth straight carry.
Cushion for Dallas
Jurgensen took the Redskins 75 yards for a score 1:57 before the end of the period by completing five straight passes in seven plays, the last to tight end Jerry Smith for 20 yards and Smith's third touchdown. It cut the Cowboys' advantage to seven points again, 34-28.
But the stingiest defense in the league shut out the Redskins the rest of the way with some help from Jurgensen. Ironically after flanker Bob Long let a pass bounce off his hands on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Jurgensen completed 16 straight passes. Unfortunately, three were to Cowboys.
A 33-yard punt by Ron Widby presented the Redskins with inviting field position on their 45 at the outset of the final period, but Mel Renfro made his first of two interceptions on Jurgensen.
Here Harris got the Redskins out of trouble by intercepting on Morton, but after Jurgensen took Washington 52 yards to the Dallas 27, he was intercepted by linebacker Chuck Ilowley and the Cowboys went 61 yards to score without risking a pass.
Hill, who powered the best rushing attack in the NFL with 150 yards in 27 carries, picked up 28 yards in five carries during this series, fullback Walt Garrison 14 yards in three attempts, and then Morton legged it 15 yards for a first down on the four-yard line.
Substitute guard Blaine Nye then led substitute running back Dan Reeves the rest of the way for a score with 61 seconds remaining.
Jurgensen Hangs On
Facing a 41-28 disadvantage as well as a race against the clock, with only 55 seconds left after the ensuing kickoff, Jurgensen unleashed his hurry-up offense.
He completed three passes in working the ball from his 33 to the 50 with five seconds remaining.
Only then did the Cowboys' pass defense get surcease from the awful pressure Jurgensen had inflicted in completing 68.6 per cent of his throws, 24 of 35 for 338 yards.
He and Taylor had collaborated on a scoring play that was stretched from 46 to 88 yards by the split end, whose smart maneuver saved the hanging throw from being intercepted.
Instead, Taylor delayed his come-back charge toward the ball and pivoted almost simultaneously with pulling it in. It was just as well because Renfro reacted quickly and was in hot pursuit from the sideline toward the goal post, where Taylor fled for the touchdown. Taylor caught six passes for 155 yards and tight end Smith seven for 98 yards, including 27-, 29- and 11-yard touchdowns. Smith was a weary fellow at the finish, after having served with a military unit during the anti-war marches here from 5 a.m. Saturday until 9 a.m. yesterday with a few naps.
The Redskins did not score on the ground against a Dallas defense that has given up only one touchdown by rushing. Quarterback Morton of the Cowboys managed only one scoring pass against the Redskins, who had given up only five previously.
It was a beauty to flanker Lance Rentzel, who got behind right cornerback Mike Bass and went 65 yards for the touchdown.
The Cowboys' other touchdowns came on a 41-yard run-back of an intercepted pass by defensive end Larry Cole and halfback Hill's first of two scores, a three-yard plunge. A 50-yard punt return by Bob Hayes set up that score.