Where is Horse Czarnecki when the Redskin offense need him?
When Pitt was moving the ball and scoring with Redskinlike inefficiency not long ago, that wise equipment aide simply grabbed several blank yardage markers and some paint. "Goal line," he wrote - and then he painted arrows pointing in the proper direction.
Perhaps that might be the next prominent device at Redskin Park, to be displayed not far from all the others. Just before he lifts weights, a Redskin is advised to "Get Stronger, Get Tougher, Get Meaner." His last step onto the practice field is over the neatly lettered: "Winning Attitude."
And on the blackboard in Memorial Stadium before the Colts game, a Redskin had written: "Hit! And Watch The Good Things Happen."
Well, the Redskins hit, but almost nothing good happened, good being defined in the NFL either as scoring points or winning. Too many times they moved in the wrong direction Monday night.
The Redskins did lose to the Colts. They were not robbed by the officials on the final nonplay. Joe Theismann, who called a running play evencoach George Allen admitted was awful to begin that final ill-fated drive, simply did not ready himself for the center snap before the last two seconds expired.
Yesterday the dozen or so reporters at Redskin Park were treated to more of the unique logic of Allen. The man who usually preaches that losing is like death was smiling. Would he have been smiling if he had signed a four-year contract when innocents within the team and beyond thought he had? Is this a man who knows he will be elsewhere next season?
There was more. Two weeks ago Allen absolved Billy Kilmer of blame for a loss to the Giants, and then quietly went about benching him. Yesterday Allen was rather harsh toward Theismann, yet all indicators suggest no change will be made for the Eagle game in Philadelphia Sunday.
"It probably wasn't a very good call," Allen said of that draw play to Mike Thomas with 74 seconds left, no time-outs remaining and the ball on the Redskin 26. Thomas gained three yards and used up 15 seconds, or as Allen said, "took away maybe two plays at the end."
Still, the fact that second-guessing is possible after the 10.3 setback is encouraging. As Allen suggested, few beyond the most wildly faithful Redskin fans believed the team would stay within 10 points of Baltimore, foul weather or no.
And the Redskins accomplished that without the benefit of any of the considerable doubts the affair offered. There were three tipped passes - and each of them found its way into a Colts' arms. Bruce Laird clearly interfered with Frank Grant on one incompletion in Baltimore territory, but no penalty was called.
If that seems optimistic, veteran Washingtons realize the Redskins often are more likely to beat a team such as the Colts than a team such as the Eagles. And Ron Jaworski's injured thumb apparently has mended.
Leaguewide, the NFL seems now to be entering what might well be called its goofy stage, when a team with a 12.2 record in one conference, the American, might not make the playoffs while a team with an 8-6 record in the other might.
Though they hardly seem to deserve a playoff spot at the moment, the Redskins will be the leading wildcard team if they beat the Eagles, Dallas beats St. Louis and Atlantic beats Detroit this week. That is anything but an impossibility.
The Colts' victory was the 11th such AFC success in 12 tests with NFC team this season. With that clear superiority and the very real possibility that three AFC playoff teams will have just one regular-season loss, has the league considered seeding for postseason action?
"And it's possible," commissioner Pete Rozelle added during an informal press conference shortly before kickoff Monday, "that the NFC team could be favored in the Super Bowl, if it breezes though its playoffs and the AFC team has a tough time."