Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, it did not take Allen long to wear out his welcome. Four weeks into training camp, Rosenbloom fired him after Allen became embroiled in a power struggle with other organization officials, including Rosenbloom's son Steve. Allen would never again coach in the NFL. He often claimed that he was being blackballed by league owners, a claim that he took to his grave when he died at age 72 on New Year's Eve of 1991, collapsing in the kitchen of his Palos Verdes, California, home after jogging around the neighborhood.
Remarkably, the Redskins began the 1978 season with six straight victories, but they then were jolted by back-to-back losses to the Eagles and the Giants. Though Riggins would gain 1,014 yards and Theismann would throw for more than 2,500 yards, the team staggered badly down the stretch, finishing 8-8 in what would be Kilmer's final season.
Beathard, a native Californian and dedicated marathon runner who still wore his blonde hair in surfer-boy style, did not have a pick in the first three rounds of the 1979 college draft. Still, showing a skill for finding diamonds in the rough in the later rounds, he added tight end Don Warren and linebackers Rich Milot, Neil Olkewicz and Mel Kaufman, all of whom would make major contributions both that season and in the future.
That year, the Redskins were 6-2 at midseason. Then, after winning four of five games going into the season finale, they were in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East with the Eagles and Cowboys, their last-game opponent at Texas Stadium. A victory would assure a playoff spot and possibly the division title, and when the Redskins opened a 17-0 lead, both goals seemed within reach.
But Roger Staubach had other ideas. He rallied the Cowboys to two touchdowns that cut the lead to 17-14 before the half. The Redskins would open a 31-21 advantage on a 66-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run by Riggins and were still leading, 34-28, when Staubach got his hands on the football one last time. He was at his own 25-yard line, with 1:46 left to play, and the master of the miracle comeback added another notch to his belt. He completed four straight passes to move his team to the Washington 8. Seconds later, he scrambled away from a fierce Redskins pass rush and spotted receiver Tony Hill in a corner of the end zone and somehow managed to throw him the ball for a touchdown. The ensuing extra point completed a stunning, 35-34 Dallas victory, keeping the Redskins out of the playoffs.