Redskins' Late Rush Tops Dallas, 14-7
By Leonard Shapiro
Before an emotionally drained crowd of 54,314 and millions more watching the national telecast at home, Houston stopped Cowboy Walt Garrison inches from the touchdown that could have tied this wild and wacky affair had the Cowboys converted the extra point.
The play came on fourth down at the Washington four, with 24 seconds ramaining.
Cowboy quarterback Craig Morton, a third quarter replacement for Roger Staubach, sent Garrison out of his backfield and hit him over the middle at one.
The ball and Houston arrived at the same time, and the Redskins' appropriately named strong safety stopped the Cowboy running back's momentum before he could step across the goal line.
The Redskins took over at the one, quarterback Sonny Jurgensen fell down as the previous 10 remaining seconds ticked off and the full house went wild.
Houston's heroics allowed the Redskins to end the Cowboys' three-game winning streak and put Washington into a first-place tie with Dallas in the NFC East.
The Redskins accomplished their third victory in four games by driving 57 yards to a one-yard Jurgensen-to-Charley Taylor touchdown pass with 3:39 remaining. That tied the score at 7-all.
Sixty-three seconds later, Redskin free safety Brig Owens intercepted a poorly-thrown Morton pass intended for tight end Billy Joe DuPree and Owens zoomed 26 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown.
Curt Knight's second extra point gave the Redskins a 14-7 lead with 2:33 to play, and that should have been enough to defeat the by-now demoralized Cowboys.
Dallas was forced to punt on the next series after the Redskins held on downs. Two minutes remained in the game.
Marv Bateman's punt was short and high, and the Redskins' Herb Mul-Key ran away from it. But the ball took a weird bounce after it landed and hit a Redskin player. It was recovered by the Cowboys' Mark Washington at the Washington 31.
Officials were unable to identify the Redskins who had touched the ball, although Jerry Smith and Frank Grant were in the area.
The Cowboys took over and five plays later Morton found Garrison open over the middle for a 10-yard gain to the Washington four. There were 28 seconds left.
On the first down, Morton's pass for Garrison was incomplete broken up by Redskin linebacker Dave Robinson.
Morton's second pass was also incomplete thrown low to wide receiver Otto Stowe, whose 45-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter had given Dallas a 7-0 lead until the frantic final minutes.
On third down, ith 29 seconds left, Morton's pass to Stowe was broken up by Pat Fischer in the right corner of the end zone.
Finally, with 24 second left, Houston put the brakes on Garrison.
Earlier, the Redskins had blocked one Dallas punt and two field goal attempts, but again had difficulty moving the football on the ground.
Curt Knight continued to have miseries with his field goal attempts, killing promising Redskin drives with misses from 53, 44 and 30 yards, though the first and last kicks were tipped by hard-charging Dallas defenders.
The Cowboys dominated play in the first half, when they held the ball for 18 yards for 30 minutes amd marched 80 yards in 16 plays to their first and only score of the night.
The Redskins helped a bit, as Bill Malinchak was called for roughing kicker Bateman after the Cowboys were forced to kick from their own 35.
Dallas running back Calvin Hill, who gained 103 yards in 21 carries, picked up 27 yards on the ground and another 14 ni the air during the drive, but the big plays were directed to Stowe, obtained in an offseason trade with the Miami Dolphins.
Stowe caught two passes of 17 yards each in the drive, the second giving the Cowboys a first down at the Redskin 10. An illegal motion call against Hill placed the ball on the 15, but it hardly mattered.
Staubach, who left the game in the third quarter with a charley horse, came back for one series, then left again for good, led his man with a perfect pass and Stowe made a diving catch to beat Fischer with 49 seconds left in the half.
The Cowboys' first drive of the third quarter was thwarted as Dave Robinson blocked Fritsch's 38-yard field goal attempt, and the Cowboys paid that back in full by doing the same to Knight's 30-yard effort with 2:29 left in the quarter.
On their next series, the Redskins drove to a first down at the Dallas 19, only to have Larry Brown and Charley Harraway fail to pick up the first down on third-and-one and fourth-and-one runs.
The next time the Redskins got the ball, they were not to be denied.
Jurgensen finally started throwing to Charley Taylor, who had caught only one pass previously. Taylor caught three passes in this one drive, but the big play came on a pass he didn't catch.
O second and seven at the 18, Taylor beat Charlie Waters, the defensive back he had victimized so often in last year's NFC championship game. Waters reached out in desperation and Taylor dropped the pass, but an official called interference and the Redskins had a first down at the one.
After successive off-tackle runs by Brown resulted in no gains, Jurgensen again went to his favorite receiver.
Lined up wide right, Taylor went straight at Waters, faked his inside, pushed off and was open a yard into the end zone. Jurgensen pumped a strike, Knight added the extra point and the game was tied, 7-7, with 3:39 to play.
Owens' touchdown was set up by another heavy rush by the Redskins' front four, who sacked Cowboy quarterbacks sevne times for losses of 45 yards.
Morton hurried his third-and-nine throw from his own 19. Owens stepped in front of DuPree and suddenly a game Redskin coach George Allen had said was of championship caliber appeared under control.
Larry Brown could manage only 36 yards in 18 carries and the Redskins gained only 174 yards in total offense.