Late in the game, the Lions made several mistakes. Layne was intercepted again and Lary twice cost the Lions valuable yardage by fielding punts inside his 10-yard line. On the second of those mistakes, Lary was nailed at his 1-yard line, and, after three Layne incompletions, Lions coach Buddy Parker surprised nearly everyone by inexpli-cably ordering an intentional safety. The Redskins lead widened to 15-10.
Wells returned Lary's free kick to midfield, and the Redskins quickly moved to the Detroit 29. But Baker missed, from 36 yards. With just under two minutes left, the Redskins upped the lead to a seemingly insurmountable 18-10 on a 31-yard field goal by Baker.
But Layne could rally a team as few quarterbacks in NFL history. With just two passes, he proceeded to take the Lions 80 yards and into the end zone. With one minute remaining on the clock, the Lions trailed by 18-17. Jim Martin squibbed an onsides kick, and the Redskins' Ralph Thomas recovered it to assure another surprise victory.
In addition to defeating the Lions, the 1956 Redskins beat the Browns twice and split with a Giants team that would win the NFL title. But after a 6-6 record that year, the Redskins suffered through a victory drought that would yield only two seasons of .500 or better records until the end of the 1960s. The five-year slide from 1957 through 1961 was the worst of the 20-year period: from a 5-6-1 record to 4-7-1 to 3-9 to 1-9-2 to 1-12-1.
Still, LeBaron finished second in the NFL in passing in 1957 and was first a year later. After throwing for more than 1,000 yards in 1959, he retired, but only briefly. The expansion Dallas Cowboys traded No. 1 and No. 6 draft choices and tackle Ray Krouse to get him.
There were several other fine players during those seasons among them runners Ed Sutton, Podoley and Don Bosseler but not nearly enough of them. Marshall never emphasized scouting even in the best of times, and he seemed even less interested during this period.
"They used to say the Redskins' scouting budget was 50 cents, the cost of Street and Smith and another football magazine," LeBaron told author Paul Attner. "It was the joke around the league on draft day, when all the teams would meet in New York and Marshall would walk around the table, trying to see who other people thought were good. Teams would deliberately expose names of guys they didn't want or who weren't any good, and he would draft them.