FORGET OUR FEEBLE attempt last fall to put professional football--or the lack of it then--in perspective: today, people all over town will be going bananas--and with justification--as the phenomenally appealing Washington Redskins move out to conquer the Detroit Lions in a playoff.

For a host of reasons--wrapped in a classy coach-- Washington has been captivated by a young, gifted and proficient team whose steady improvement and weekly accomplishments only now are being recognized beyond the Middle Atlantic states, where the rest of America's fans and sportswriters still think that Dallas is the capital of the United States on weekends. At least in the final days of this strange but locally wonderful season there have been some nods of note in the form of national honors; for awhile, you had to wonder exactly what Mark Moseley would have to do to get national attention, or how many victories Coach Joe Gibbs would have to engineer after turning an 0-5 start last year into 16 victories in the last 20 games.

But after kicking 23 consecutive field goals-- more than a few of which were the difference between victory and defeat--Mr. Moseley was selected as the most valuable player in all the league, and Mr. Gibbs the National Football League Coach of the Year. Other distinguished players made the all-pro team with Mr. Moseley, but here, too, the national nearsightedness of the sportswriters and broadcasters polled by the Associated Press bestowed more honors on Cowboys whose group record this year was an inferior 6-3.

It was left to Mr. Gibbs to note that his award was a recognition of the entire Redskin "family."

Now, we've all heard false modesty, but if what we hear and see is true, this man means what he says-- and the players like him for it. It's a drastic and welcome change from the Reign of Curious George, the coach whose grim obsession with the game made it World War III every week. Now we have Mr. Gibbs, who considers his players friends, and who says, "I want football to be fun. I want to win, but I want the players to look forward to coming to work."

Clearly they look forward to today's shift, and their anticipation is spreading by the hour.