Cowboys Brutalize Redskins, 34-16
By Leonard Shapiro
The final score in this brutally played football game was Dallas 34, Washington 16. But the Redskins were more concerned about another set of grim numbers two fullbacks, John Riggins and Bob Brunet, out for the season with injuries and Kilmer suffering from a badly bruised left shoulder.
While the Redskins to the man said today's defeat did not end their season, even coach George Allen had to admit "they (the Cowboys) are in the driver's seat. They're the class of our division. A real test for our team now is to be able to come back, like we did after the Giant game. I know we'll be back."
The Redskins were bombed by the Cowboy offense for 435 yards, four touchdowns and two field goals and held to one-yard net passing and an average gain of 1.7 yards per ofensive play by the Dallas defense. The wild-card spot is probably the only route to the playoffs for Washington, or anyone else in the NFC's Eastern Division.
The Cowboys are now 5-0 and flying high, although they do have a tough stretch in November with consecutive games against St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Washington and a season-ending contest against the Denver Broncos.
The Redskins, now 3-2, also have four more toughies games against the Cowboys, Cardinals, Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams. But they are also badly banged up and the Cowboys had a good deal to do with that.
The Redskins held the lead at 6-0 early in the first quarter on two Mark Moseley field goals, then again at 16-14 on a club record 53-yard field goal in the third period by Moseley. But thereafter, the COwboys took the game by the throat and never let go.
Efren Herrera, the little kicker with the potent leg, nailed back-to-back field goals of 44 and 52 yards (a personal high) in a four-minute stretch late in the third quarter for a 20-16 Cowboy lead.
But most Redskins maintain they lost the game on a spectacular 59-yard pass from Roger Staubach to an old Washington nemesis, Drew Pearson, two minutes, 17 seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Redskins seemingly were in control on the fatal play. They had forced the Cowboys into a third-and-13 situation at the Dallas 41 and an all-out blitz was called.
The Redskins massed 11 men on the line of scrimmage, and were sending in both linebackers, nickel back Eddie Brown and safety Jake Scott in an effort to get at Staubach. Everyone else in the secondary was supposed to be in single coverage.
Staubach spotted that alignment as he stood seven yards behind his center in the shotgun formation and waved at receiver Drew Pearson on the right side to go deep. Pearson followed that advice, beat Redskin cornerback Gerard Williams by two steps and Staubach threw him a perfect pass.
Pearson caught the ball at the Redskin 25 and cruised home with a 59-yard touchdown pass that left the crowd of 64,994 in ecstasy and the Redskins all but dead, trailing 27-16, with 12:43 to play.
But Kilmer was back in there pitching despite a severe Cowboy pass rush that recorded eight sacks against the Redskins, and sent him to the sideline for the entire second period with a badly bruised left shoulder.
Still, Kilmer hit Charley Taylor for a 14-yard pass that carried to the Redskin 49. The Redskins still had hope, until a controversial grounding-the-ball call against Kilmer as he tried to dump off a pass to rookie fullback Clarence Harmon.
Though Cowboy lineman Larry Cole was draped on his neck, Kilmer somehow managed to get the ball off. "The ball hit his (Harmon's) feet," Kilmer said. "it was not thrown away."
The officials called grounding and walked off a 15-yard penalty that also cost the Redskins a down.
That put the Redskins back on their own 34, and the Cowboy defenders teed off. On third and 15, Kilmer was sacked by Randy White for a five-yard loss, and the Redskins were forced to punt.
Dallas took over at its own 17, and put the finishing touches on the victory by driving 83 yards in 19 plays, killing 9:17 on the clock before Robert Newhouse provided the coup de grace with a six-yard touchdown run with 1:12 left in the game.
Newhouse, the little bowling-ball runner, ripped through the Redskins for 71 yards today, including a seven-yard touchdown run that gave the Cowboys a 14-6 lead with 3:11 left in the first half.
Staubach was devastating as usual after a slow start. He finished with 15 of 28 completions for 250 yards, and another touchdown bomb 50 yards to Golden Richards in the second quarter that wiped out the Redskins' early 6-0 lead.
Williams, the second-year Redskin cornerback playing in the place of still hurting Pat Fischer (sore back), was the victim on both of Staubach's long touchdown passes.
The Cowboys had set him up for Richards' catch by throwing a quick out to the swift wide reciever earlier in the first quarter. On the touchdown catch, Richards faked the same pattern to the sideline, then cut back inside. Williams was never close, as Richards caught the ball at the 20 and breezed home.
The Redskins were in the game today up until that Staubach-to-Pearson bomb mostly because they contained Tony Dorsett, holding him to 51 yards in 19 carries; forced three fumbles, and blocked a Danny White punt to set up their only touchdown of the day.
That came late in the second quarter after the Redskins prompted a Dallas punt from the end zone. Mark Murphy, the rookie safety with size 15 feet, got loose inside and cleanly blocked White's kick. Dallas Hickman fell on the ball at the one-yard line.
Joe Thiesmann, who replaced Kilmer in the second period, crossed up Dallas' goal-line defense by dropping straight back and lofting a pass in the left flat for rookie Clarence Harmon, playing in place of Riggins and Brunet.
That one-yard touchdown toss was Theismann's first scoring pitch this season and Harmon's first-ever NFL score. More important, it cut Dallas' lead to 14-13, the margin at halftime.
It was also Theismann's only moment of glory today. In the second period, he botched a Jake Scott fumble recover that gave the Redskins possession at midfield by throwing an interception to Dallas safety Charlie Waters. Richards' touchdown catch followed on the next play.
"I think we can beat this Dallas team, but you have to be healthy," Allen said. "You can't do it without your Reggie Jacksons or Thurman Munsons. We've just got to get over the injuries and get it together."