We take you back to 1976, the ninth week of the National Football League season. The Redskins are struggling with a 5-3 record and trailing the Cardinals by a game in the race for the NFC wild-card spot.

The offense seems terminally ill; turning the ball over at an alarming rate, committing costly penalties and averaging only 252 yards a game. The defense is not much better, allowing opponents 322 yards a game.

And then, shazam, it happened.

The blockers started blocking, the runners began running, the tacklers started tackling and the Redskins started winning. They prevailed in five of their last six games with impressive statistics to qualify for the payoffs.

And now, we return to 1977, the ninth week of the season. The offense is sputtering, the defense is ranked 10th among 14 NFC teams and the Redskins, now 4-4, once again trail the Cardinals by a full game in the race for the NFC wild card.

Can the turnaround of 1976 happen again?

"Sure it can," said George Allen. "And it isn't going to be the plays we run. It's going to be the intensity with which we block, the determination to run, the deep desire to catch the ball - all the intangible facets, the emotion with which we play.

"Last year, we had to win or be eliminated, and we have the same situation now. That's what I told the team. Each guy has to say, 'It's up to me.' That's what they have to tell themselves, I told the club it's not the defensive call, the play you run or the return you called. It's just that simple."

Allen no doubt delivered the same speech a year ago, and the Redskins obviously took him seriously. The statistical turnaround was astounding in the final six games.

The Redskins averaged 252.6 yards per game total offense in their first eight games last year, 345, yards in their last six.

They averaged 3.8 per play in the first eight game, 4.8 in the last six.

The averaged 132 yards rushing and 120 yards passing in the first eight, and 175 yards rushing and 170 yards passing in the last six.

And in their first eight games of 1976, Redskins quarterbacks were sacked 30 times. In the last six games, they were dumped only eight times.

The defensive turnaround was just as impressive.

The Redskins yielded only 248 yards a game to opposing offenses in their last six games, compared with 322 yards in their first eight.

The opposition was able to average 27 more yards a game rushing in the last six games than they did in the first eight, but the pass defense more than made up for the minor deficiency.

The Redskins gave up only 85 yards per game in their final six games, compared with 176 yards in the first eight. And while teams were completing 47 per cent of their throws in the first eight games of 1976, in the last six they could manage only 31 per cent.

The Redskins gave up only eight touchdowns in their last six games, compared with 15 in their first eight. The line and linebackers picked up 24 of their total 44 sacks in the final six games.

And now back to 1977. Statistical comparisons between the Redskins after eight games last year and eight game this season are startling because they are so similar, with one major exception - points scored.

Last year, the Redskins had scored 18 touchdowns after eight games. This year, they have scored only 10.

"That's what we've got to get going," said offensive coordinator Charlie Waller, "and if I knew what was wrong, we'd correct it."

"Least year at this time, the offensive line started to play great football, and we got the running game going. And if you can run the football, everything else will fall in place."

A year ago, the Redskins also had a healthy 225-pound John Riggins at fullback. He gained 334 of his 574 yards rushing in the final six games and blocked well for Mike Thomas.

But now Riggins' knee is in a cast and he has been replaced by a rookie who weighs 190 pounds and tries hard, but it may not be enough.

"It's got to make a difference," Waller admitted, "You can't take anything away from Clarence Harmon. He's working hard and he's doing his job. But he doesn't have the running ability of a John Riggins."

A year ago, the defense had a different look, also. While Mike Curtis has been playing some magnificent football this season in place of injured linebacker Chris Hanburger, the Redskins miss Hanburger's savvy signal-calling.

They also miss Pat Fischer - out for the year with a bad back - in the secondary because Gerard Williams is young, inexperienced and a man opposing quarterbacks will pick a week after week.

Even alluded to that without naming names yesterday.

"Yes, we had a little different arrangement last year," he said. "A guy was telling me the other day we had seven lineup changes when we played the Eagles two weeks ago. We've never had that before."

A year ago, in the ninth game of the season, Allen switched from Billy Kilmer to Joe Theismann as his quarterback. Theismann went wild against the 49ers, throwing three touchdown passes to Jean Fugett and producing 403 yards of total offense in a 24-21 victory many players say turned the season around.

Theismann will be the starting quarterback against the Eagles Sunday, and all of the Redskins would like to believe history can repeat itself. Some new statistics might help, too.

The Redskins are listing linebackers Hanburger (knee) and Pete Wysocki (pulled hamstring) and wide receiver Charley Taylor (pulled hamstring) as questionable for the Eagle game, although Allen said at his post practice press conference that Hanburger was doubtful for action. Hanburger worked out yesterday, "and I'm not going to rush him," Allen said.

Safety Jake Scott missed practice because of that nagging leg-muscle pull he suffered against the Giants three weeks ago, but he is not listed on the club's injury report and probably will play.