"You don't hit a gorilla with a small stick," Johnson said.
He hit the Redskins hard, among other things completing a Hail Mary pass for a touchdown, recovering an onsides kick and catching the NFL's best team on a day when they were a bit off their game. Dallas ended up with a 24-21 win.
Even in that defeat, though, the Redskins found something that ultimately would help them. After falling behind by 14 points, Gibbs had gone to a no-huddle offense to get back in the game. Rypien was so proficient at it that Gibbs decided to install it as a permanent part of his playbook. The Redskins used it several more times down the stretch as well as in the Super Bowl.
They entered the final regular-season game, against the Eagles, with a 14-1 record and with home field advantage already wrapped up. After watching Rypien take a hard shot from a blitzing linebacker in the third quarter, Gibbs pulled many of his starters and allowed reserves to finish a game that ended with a 24-22 loss.