Rallying Redskins Stand Alone, 24-20
By George Solomon
The Redskins had fallen behind 13-0 in the first half on Craig Morton's 39-yard touchdown pass to Ron Sellers and field goals by Toni Fritsch of 13 and 12 yards.
The defending world champions had crunched methodically to a 20-7 lead in the third quarter on Walt Garrison's one-yard touchdown run and Toni Fritsch's extra point.
But with 9:16 left in the period, the Redskins' "Over the Hill Gang," whose aging members know full well you only get one shot at life, found gusto.
With Sonny Jurgensen arousing all kinds of echoes on the stadium and Larry Brown behaving like Larry Brown, the Redskins humbled the Cowboys, 17-0, in the final 23 minutes to shoot into first place in the NFL's Eastern Division.
The Cowboys still had life when, from the Redskin 49, with 16 seconds remaining, Craig Morton fired a pass to Bob Hayes. But Washington cornerbacks Mike Bass and Pat Fischer put the clamp on Hayes as the clock ran out, and hundreds of screaming people charged onto the field.
Washington, now 5-1 and a full game ahead of the 4-2 Cowboys, played perhaps its finest game in years. It was even better than last year's 20-16 conquest of the Cowboys in Dallas, as today the Redskins had to get off their backs to win.
Jurgensen, who earlier joined Johnny Unitas and John Brodie as the only members of the NFL's elusive 30,000-yard club, never flinched when he brought the offenseon the field after the Cowboys had grabbed their 20-7 advantage.
Jurgensen had caused Dallas grief so many times, and at 38, was clearly too old to change. He threw a pas to Jerry Smith, who made a nice move and gained 28 yards to the Redskin 48.
Four plays later, from the Cowboy 34, Brown took a pitchout. Following a devastating block by Charley Harraway, Brown took off around left end. At the 15, Walter Rock sliced down the remaining Cowboy, and Brown went into the end zone. There was 8:12 left in the third period when Knight's conversion sliced the Dallas lead to 20-14.
Now the Redskins' fanatics were yelling "defense, defense, defense." The Redskins gave them just that, stopping Morton cold. After a punt, Jurgensen threw to Brown for 14 yards, then fired a bullet past Chuck Howley to Brown for a 15-yard gain.
The drive stalled, however, and Knight rammed through a 42-yard field goal on the final play of the third period. The Redskins were now down 20-17, and the cool Cowboys were feeling the warmth.
Morton moved the Cowboys for two first downs, but the Redskins stiffened and Fritsch barely missed a 50-yard field goal try.
There was 10:40 left in the game when the Redskins began their game-winning touchdown drive. Jurgensen started off with a 26-yarder to Roy Jefferson. Then he threw to Brown, who ran 18 yards to the Cowboys' 36.
Brown gained three before Jurgensen fired a beauty between three Cowboy defenders, into Brown's midsection. When Brown fell, he was on the Cowboy 17, and RFK Stadium was berserk.
Harraway the blocker then became Harraway the runner. He slashed four yards to the 13. On the next play, he took a handoff, headed for the left corner of the end zone, leaving a trail for Cornell Green to follow.
For a man who is not supposed to be fast enough to run in the NFL, Harraway ran the 13 yards into the Cowboy end zone very fast.
Knight's conversion with 6:42 remaining in the game, put the Redskins into the lead for the first time, 24-20.
That put the pressure squarely on the shoulders of the Redskin defense, which had been porous in the first half.
But the defense was brilliant, with much-abused Pat Fischer making a magnificient diving interception of Morton's bomb to Hayes and Speedy Duncan swiping a pass moments later after the ball bounced off Jack Pardee's shoulder pads.
Knight missed field goal tries of 43 and 37 yards as Jurgensen refused in the final minutes to put the ball in the air.
Brown, who gained 95 yards in 26 carries and caught seven passes for 100 yards, was the key man in the initial Redskin comeback in the second period, after the Cowboys had shot into a 13-0 lead.
On the 74-yard scoring drive, Brown swept right end for 15 yards, then caught a swing pass from Jurgensen and ran for 15. From the 19, Jurgense, the canny veteran, smelled a blitz coming, and got rid of the ball quickly to Brown, of course, who completed a 19-yard touchdown play, making the score 13-7 at halftime.
Jurgensen was 11 of 16 for 180 yards, giving him 30,122 yards over a career beginning 16 years ago in Philadelphia, and soaring higher than ever today.
Morton hit on 14 of 27 passes for 174 yards, but after his early successes, spent much of his time trying to avoid Washington's blitzing and clawing defenders. The Redskins dumped Morton three times, and hurried him often.
Dallas, after getting its 20-7 lead, appeared overwhelmed the rest of the game. The holes that had opened for Calvin Hill and Garrison, who together gained 115 yards, suddenly disappeared.
"The Over the Hill Gang," which last year was criticized for fading in the second half of games, was in control.