He must have done a good job of weeding, because 1972 was to be the year when the ever more intense Washington-Dallas rivalry ended with the Redskins defeating the Cowboys for the NFC championship and going on to their first Super Bowl game.
In the lead-up to the 1972 season, massive team changes were no longer the order of the day. The Redskins added depth to their defensive backfield by acquiring one of Allen's old Chicago stalwarts, safety Roosevelt Taylor. He brought in two more veterans as well, running back George Nock from the Jets and offensive tackle Mitch Johnson from the Browns. Also on the roster that year was one of the most intriguing rookies in the league.
In the spring of 1971, Allen had held open tryouts for anyone who thought he was good enough to make the team. More than 300 young men of all shapes and sizes showed up on the Georgetown University practice field, and Allen signed a huge young defensive tackle, Otis Sistrunk, a distant cousin of the Redskins' Manny Sistrunk. Otis lasted a week in training camp before being cut, but he eventually would become a regular starter for the Oakland Raiders.
Undaunted and knowing a nice headline when he saw one, Allen held the free-agent tryouts again the next year. This time 385 hopefuls, not to mention scads of reporters and camera crews, reported to Georgetown while Allen and his staff recorded 40-yard dash times and put the mostly motley crew through drills to see if anyone had the right stuff. At the end of the session, Allen signed Herb Mul-Key, who had never attended college, to a free-agent contract. Mul-Key had run a 4.5-second, 40-yard dash on a muddy field, and eventually he would go on to make the team as a return specialist and back-up running back. In his three seasons with the Redskins, he averaged 27.8 yards per kickoff return, the second highest in team history.
All player injuries from 1971 had healed by the time the Redskins headed for Carlisle. Jurgensen, as well as Taylor and Brown, was back in good health, and there was a quarterback controversy almost from the start. "Bill Kilmer is our quarterback," Allen said the first week the veterans reported. "It's up to somebody to beat him out. He did an excellent job last year, and we won with him. But I'm pleased by the reports of Sonny. His weight is down, and that's a sign of self-discipline."
Kilmer opened the season as the starter, leading the Redskins to victories over the Vikings (24-21) and the Cardinals (24-10) before losing to the underdog New England Patriots.