New England Fatriot coach Chuck Fairbanks has been widely quoted lately as saying Washington's George Allen "is one of my best friends in coaching." After today's massacre in Massachusetts, the relationship may never again be the same.
In a crushing defeat reminiscent of last year's playoff disaster in Minnesota, the Redskins were battered by a Patriot team that rolled up 521 yards of offense on its way to a 45-7 victory. That is the most points the club has ever scored in a preseason game.
"We took a real thrashing today," Allen grumped. "We didn't get anyone hurt, and that was about the only good thing about the game."
But running back Mike Thomas, making his first start of the preseason, left early in the first quarter, limping after three carries and 10 yards.
Thomas said he had a cramp in the same left hamstring that has plagued him since his first day of training camp.
Team physician Stanford Lavine described it as a muscle pull and said he will recommend Thomas rest his sore leg for the first part of this week. Lavine said he hoped Thomas could play in the preseason finale against the New York Jets, but that it was too early to tell if he would be recovered by next Friday night.
Thomas' continued presence probably would not have made much difference today, because the Redskins' greatest deficiency was on defense.
The Patriots scored three of the first four times they had the football (getting it once on Billy Kilmer's first interception of the preseason and a second time after John Reggins fumbled), ran at will over the middle and around the ends and led at intermission, 28-0.
These were the running Patriots in the first half, although Steve Grogan found enough holes in the Redskin defense to unload touchdown passes of 55 yards to all-world tight end Russ Francis and of 46 yards to all-whoosh rookie wide receiver Stanley Morgan.
After 317 yards - 190 rushing - in the first two periods all against the Redskins' first defense, the Patriots inserted second-team quarterback Tom Owen. He threw for 107 yards more, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Francis to complete the scoring.
Only in the strike preseason of 1974, when Houston defeated a rookie team, 48-3, has an Allen Redskin team allowed an opponent more points.
Of course, the Redskins were playing in Foxboro while their defensive quarterback, Chris Hanburger, was in a hospital bed in Arlington, Va., recovering from an emergency appendectomy.
"Hopefully, Chris will get well and come back," said strong safety Ken Houston, who call signals in Hanburger's place. "Hopefully, he'll come back for the Jets." That is not likely, although Allen still talks about Hanburger making it back for the season opener in two weeks against the New York Giants.
Allen said the Redskins "lost as a team, offensively, defensively and on the special teams" and no one who witnessed the debacle could disagree.
Thomas' early leg problems - he was limping after his second carry, an aborted sweep for a two-yard gain - got Washington off to a dismal start, and a mix-up in signals in the secondary led to the Patroits' first score, Francis' 55-yard touchdown catch.
"It was just one of those things," said cornerback Gerard Williams."We just blew the coverage. With all the noise, I think someone misheard the signal."
Grogan, who has been criticized for his poor passing this preseason, quieted the boo birds with a short toss to a wide-open Francis, and no Redskin was able to get within 10 yards of the big tight end the rest of the way down field. Joe Lavender apparently was the Redskin with the bad ears.
The Patriots got the ball right back when Riggins fumbled after gaining 15 yards on a draw play.Grogan moved his team 82 yards in seven plays with the help of a heas-slap penalty called on Ron McDole.
Running back Andy Johnson scored on a five-yard sweep around the right end, and New England got another unexpected lift two plays later when Kilmer's pass was picked off by Patriot cornerback Mike Haynes, the brother of Redskin tight end-fullback Reggie Hayes.
Kilmer, who will be 38 Monday, had his worst day of the preseason. His first pass was dropped by Charley Taylor, and Kilmer had no completions in three attempts before retiring early in the second quarter.
His interception gave the Patriots the ball at the Washington 22, and Grogan ran through three Redskins - Jake Scott, Brad Dusek and Williams - on a roll-out for a five-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 2:57 left in the first quarter.
New England's final touchdown of the half was purely a Stanley Morgan Production. First the Patriots' No. 1 craft choice returned a punt 36 yards to the Redskin 46. Then he picked up the rest of the yardage with a spectacular diving leap in the end zone to spare a Grogan pass few receivers should have tried to catch.
The man given the monumental ask of rallying the Redskins from all his adversity was Joe Theismann. He has a marked man. Twice the Patriots puched all 11 men on obvious passing tuations, and twice they sacked him then Theismann's receivers were told up at the line.
Theismann finished with nine completion in 19 attempts for 166 yards and the Redskins' only touchdown, a [WORLD ILLEGIBLE]-yard pass to swift Danny Buggs to [WORLD ILLEGIBLE] New England's lead to 38-7 early at the fourth quarter. Theismann also [WORLD ILLEGIBLE]for 42 yards and was the Redskins' leading ground gainer, but was sacked four times.
"I knew what they were doing and I had the right play called," Theismann said of the 11-man rush. "The first time they did a real fine job holding up Charley (Taylor). The second time, I slipped and couldn't get away. We had seen it on the films. We just didn't execute."
The same could be said for the entire team. The Patriots' offensive line, missing its best player Leon Gray. Mew open gaping holes all day and neither Patriot quarterback had his pants soiled by the new rug in Schaeter Stadium.
In all, the Patriots gained 10 or more yards 20 times against the Redskin defense, and nine of those times gained 20 or more yards. That doesn't even count put and kickoff returns.
The patriots' three-man rush, four-lineback defense held the Redskins to two first downs and 85 yards in the first half.
Another Andy Johnson touchdown run of five yards early in the third period, a 27-yard field goal by John Smith 10 minutes later, and Francis' second touchdown catch for 24 yards late in the final period merely added to the Redskins' embarrassment.
"I'm trying to find a plus out of this and it's hard to come up with," said tight end Jean Fugett. "I guess we have a game like this every year.
This year it's here instead of Chicago. I know it brings us back to reality. But we have a veteran team and we know how to win, and we will.
You know it's funny , I was sitting up in my room last night watching Oakland kill San Francisco and I was trying to figure out how the 49ers probably felt. Now I know."