Cowboys End Redskins' Streak at Nine
By George Solomon
The Dallas Cowboys nailed the Redskins for 28 points in the first 30 minutes en route to a 34-24 success that moved Dallas into pro football's playoffs for the seventh straight season.<
The Redskins, playing without an injured Larry Brown, saw their nine-game winning streak end. Last Sunday, they clinched the NFC Eastern Division championship by defeating Philadelphia.
Because they did, this game was essentially meaningless for the Redskins, who carry and 11-2 record into next Sunday's season finale against Buffalo at RFK Stadium.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, needed to defeat or tie either Washington or the New York Giants next Sunday to insure the wild card spot in the playoffs.
Dallas was clearly the more determined outfit completely overwhelming the Redskins during the first 30 minutes. By the time the Redskins had recovered, the Cowboys had 28 points and Washington three.
"It was probably our best half of football," said Cowboys coach Tom Landry.
The second half was different. Bill Kilmer giving it a gallant try, the Redskins outscored the Cowboys, 21-6, and drew within seven points in the fourth quarter, but Kilmer threw interceptions to kill the Redskins' last two possessions, and Dallas held on.
The Cowboys, 24-20 losers to Washington seven weeks ago, were clearly intent on revenge today.
But Kilmer hit some passes on a wet day in which he was 14 for 29 for 178 yards and threw three touchdowns; rookie Herb Mul-Key had an impressive debut; and Charley Taylor enjoyed an exceptional day.
George Allen's pride and joy, the Redskins defense, performed only in spurts. For much of the afternoon it felt the full brunt of Cowboy runners Calvin hill (111 yards) and Walt Garrison (121 yards).
Dallas' blockers moved Redskins at will particularly in the first half, when the Cowboys sought to establish a superiority they hope will linger if the teams should meet in the NFC championship game.
The Redskins appeared to be still thinking about last Sunday's champagne when the Cowboys began popping. Dallas took the opening kickoff and marched 61 yards in 10 plays, Hill ripping off gains of 13, 12, 2, 8 and 5. From teh 10, he raced around right guard, after guard John Niland had wiped out linebacker Myron Pottios, and scored less than six minutes into the game.
Craig Morton, who had "guaranteed" a Cowboy victory earlier in the week, threw only one pass in the drive. Toni Fritsch added the extra point.
The Redskins did nothing, and a Mike Bragg punt traveled only 30 yards, giving the Cowboys a first down on the Redskins' 42.
Hill smashed into the middle three times for 15 yards. Morton then threw an incompletion, but his next effort was better. He avoided Diron Talbert and Verlon Biggs and fired a looping strike to Hill, wide open in the end zone. Fritsch's conversion, 5:45 left in the half, increased the Dallas lead to 14-0.
Another short punt by Bragg helped the Cowboys to their third touchdown. It came on the second play of the second quarter when Garrison blasted 25 yards up the middle. Mike Bass unwisely stepped in Garrison's way on the five and was trampled.
Fritsch's PAT pushed the Cowboys' lead to 21-0. The Crunch Bunch was being crunched.
Kilmer tried to arouse the Redskins. But only Bob Brunet and Mul-Key, a rookie free agent activated today, seemed inspired. Brunet's running set up a 16-yard field goal by Curt Knight, 6:47 before intermission.
Dallas quickly negated that after Brunet fumbled away the ball at the Cowboys' 47. Garrison, behind sensational trap blocking, cut through a huge hole at left tackle and made his longest run in seven years as a pro 41 yards. It took six Redskins to drop him at the Washington 12.
Morton, showing the 65,136 a touch of Roger Staubach, bootlegged it over from there. Fritsch's conversion made the score 28-3 at halftime.
George Allen must have had some uncomplimentary things to say to his men at halftime. The Redskins took the second-half kickoff and marched 66 yards to their first touchdown.
The payoff came when Taylor jumped up with two Cowboys around him, caught Kilmer's throw in the end zone and managed to land in bounds. Knight's extra point sliced the Cowboys' lead to 28-10 with 7:11 left in the third quarter.
Kilmer then picked up a Dallas blitz and dropped a swing pass off to Mul-Key, who exploded for 27 yards to the Cowboys' 10.
Two snaps later, Kilmer winged a 10-yard touchdown pass to Roy Jefferson, 57 seconds into the final period.
When the Redskins regained possession, Mul-Key was still firing his burners. This time, from scrimmage, he roared 34 yards up the middle, sloughing off Mel Renfro's attempted tackle. He was finally stopped at the Cowboys' eight.
When Kilmer threw six yards to Taylor for a touchdown, the Redskins were behind by only 31-24, with 11:14 left in the game. On the sidelines, Dallas coach Tom Landry looked concerned.
Mul-Key's debut included 60 yards on eight carries, two pass receptions for 38 yards, six kickoff returns for 173 yards.
When the Redskins got the ball back, still down by seven, Kilmer was in a definite passing situation.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, several of his fourth-quarter passes were poorly thrown, permitting easy interceptions by Charile Waters and Cornell Green.
Waters' theft set up Fritsch's game-icing field goal of 26 yards, with 3:25 left.
Morton, who hit 7 of 17 for 61 yards, did not have to throw much, what with Garrison and Hill romping for 232 yards between them. It was the first time this season two Cowboy runners had surpassed 100 yards in one game.
Brunet gained 57 yards in 19 carries while Charley Harraway added 26 in 12, a subpar performance for him.
Taylor was Washington's top pass receiver with five catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
"I'm proud of the way our guys came back," Allen said. "Lesser men would have quit. But it's not good to lose after winning nine straight."