WE'RE TRYING to remain calm and collected--but unless you have been in solitary confinement or Texas this week, you know how thoroughly the mind-altering disease of Redskin Fever has affected behavior for a good 150 miles in any direction from RFK Stadium. Horns are honking, red and yellow are all over the place, and every second conversation you overhear goes no more than two thoughts before it drifts to the War of the Football Worlds. Why are so many people caught up in a mere game of sport?

Why not? For local togetherness, nothing beats a winning football team, playing its arch-enemy for a chance at the Honor of the Land or, as it is said in the case of these nationally underappreciated Redskins, for r-e-s-p-e-c-t, as in "get no." Here, where this young and plucky bunch has shown no deference whatever to other nominally mighty teams in its path, the cheers for the underdogs and hogs and Smurfs and normally unsung heroes of a total team effort have been compounding every week.

Better still, as D.C. council member/intrepid fan Charlene Drew Jarvis notes on this page today, the Redskins' triumphs have a marvelous way of breaking down barriers between people in this town--and of bringing out the best in them. There are no special qualifications or geopolitical requirements for becoming a full-fledged fan, nor is any apology expected. And for once, the rest of the country is getting a taste of a Washington it may not know about: the home town of real people who work and play and who sit around with neighbors yelling at their TV tubes.

So it is that for a few hours this afternoon, worrisome concerns--some more cosmic than others-- will be set aside in favor of mass distraction of the local kind. May the spirit move that ball--from here to Pasadena!