Moseley Puts Boot to Cowboys
By Leonard Shapiro
The surprising Redskins' version of a major confrontation at the summit ended with a 9-5 Washington victory that was not assured until the final gun had sounded as Joe Theismann voluntarily accepted a safety rather than risk a fourth-down punt in the last three seconds.
The Redskin points were provided by Mark Moseley field goals of 52, 42 and 27 yards, but the best thrills of the night came courtesy of a Redskin defense that stopped Dallas' top-ranked offense on four different occasions inside the Washington 20-yard line.
The Redskin victory was their fifth without a defeat this season and left them one of three undefeated teams in the NFL. More important, Washington is now two full games ahead of the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys, as well as the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, all 3-2.
In still another classic matchup that occurs almost every time these teams meet, Redskin defenders set the tone for the evening midway through the first period when Brad Dusek forced a Tony Dorsett fumble at the Redskin nine recovered by Washington linebacker Harold McLinton.
Before the night was over, the Redskins kept the Cowboys from scoring a touchdown on six straight plays inside the seven-yard line on Dallas' first possession of the third quarter. In all Dallas had 13 plays inside the 20 without scoring a touchdown.
With Dallas facing a second and 15 at the Washington 19 early in the fourth quarter, Ken Houston saved the game with an interception of a pass intended for Drew Pearson in the right front corner of the end zone.
But the most frantic moments of all occurred on the final Cowboy possession of the night.
The Redskins were clinging to a precarious 9-3 lead and holding on for dear life as Staubach went to work.
On second and 10 at his own 29, Staubach found Tony Hill on a 42-yard pass in the middle of the field that carried to the Redskin 29. And Dallas moved 14 yards closer on the next play when Chris Hanburger was called for roughing Staubach after the Cowboy quarterback had unloaded a dying duck incompletion.
Now the pressure was clearly back on the Redskins with 2:18 to play.
On first down, Dorsett gained five yards to the Redskin 10 as the two-minute warning temporarily halted play.
On second down, big Dave Butz, a hero of the New England victory, came up with another big play shooting past his blocker and nailing Robert Newhouse for a three-yard loss back to the 13.
On third and eight, Dallas called a timeout with 1:46 left. Staubach lined up in the shotgun, and had Drew Pearson open at the left sideline near the two-yard line.
But Redskin cornerback Joe Lavender recovered in time to wrap his long arms around the Cowboy receiver and forced him to drop the football, setting up fourth down.
Staubach was unable to get the play off in time, however. As the 30-second clock struck zero, the Cowboys were called for delay of game and the ball was back five more yards to the 18.
From there, Staubach took the snap five yards deep and aimed his pass to the right side of the end zone, where Tony Hill seemed open for an instant. But Staubach's pass was slightly beyond Hill's desperation dive.
The Redskins took over at their own 18 with 1:36 left, and did not give up the football again. The Cowboys used their final timeout to kill the clock with 1:20 remaining and the Redskins facing third and 10 at the 18.
John Riggins, who gained 96 yards in 19 carries, gained two yards and the Redskins allowed the clock to tick down to three seconds before accepting a delay of game penalty.
On fourth and 13 at the 15, Theismann turned and ran backwards into the end zone with the ball held high. Randy White was credited with trapping Theismann for the safety, though Theismann never went down. He went out of the end zone, technically ending the game, then came back and spiked the ball.
If the Cowboys had gotten to Theismann in the end zone and knocked the ball loose and recovered they could have scored a touchdown.
Theismann said later, "I just wanted to run the clock out, but I sort of drew a mind block. I saw the clock run down and I held the ball up. The Dallas guys made a good play. I shouldn't have done that."
"If I get the chance again, I'll be in the third seat of the second row with it."
There was a brief shoving match between Charlie Waters and Theismann in the end zone, players from both sides pouring into the area. The safety was finally signaled, the gun sounded and the Redskins were able to celebrate.
The Redskins were pouring all over the Cowboy offense midway through the third period in one of the more memorable goal-line stands seen in this heated rivalry.
The Cowboys had taken the second-half kickoff and drove to a first and five at the Redskin seven after Hanburger was called offside as he prepared to blitz Staubach.
From there, Dorsett gained two yards to the five, Robert Newhouse two to the three and Dorsett one more to the two and a first down.
Now McLinton and Houston took over. Preston Pearson tried for the right side and Houston sliced through from his safety post to stop him at the one. On second down from there, Dorsett ran smack into McLinton for no gain.
And on third down, it was McLinton again knifing down low and whipping Dorsett around the ankles for a one-yard loss.
Rafael Septien came on to kick a 19-yard field goal with 7:41 left in the period, cutting the Redskin lead to 6-3.
The Redskins came right back, with Ricky Thompson's 17-yard pass reception and a 19-yard Riggins run around right end getting Washington to the 13.
The drive stalled from there, and Moseley came on to kick his 27-yard field goal for a 9-3 lead with 2:40 left in the third period.
Thompson caught six passes for 88 yards, and a 14-yard reception also helped set up Moseley's second field goal with 11:15 left in the second period.
Theismann completed 11 of his 22 passes for 156 yards and one interception an Aaron Kyle pickoff of a pass intended for Thompson in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
Staubach hit 13 of his 30 passes for 212 yards, but was unable to produce a Cowboy touchdown for the first time since the 10th game of the 1976 season.
The Redskins also did a number on Dorsett, the NFL's leading rusher. He gained only 61 yards in 21 carries and had to be helped off the field with a bruised thigh in the third period.
Dorsett was back in action later on, but never was able to break anything longer than a 10-yard run. The Redskin defense took care of that. Last night, it took care of most everything.