The Redskins work long and hard in paractice on grandiose schemes to block punts. Today; against the Eagles, Dallas Hickman blocked one to turn the game in Washington's favor.The strategy. They were setting up a return.
"We had a 10-man-left return and my job is to force the kick, to make sure they're not going to fake the thing," Hickman said. "I got a good get-off on the ball and things worked out."
Hickman came in unmolested and smothered Spike Jones' punt with his hands and recovered the ball at the Philadelphia 19. The Redskins went in for a touchdown to tie the game and then won it, 17-14, on Mark Moseley's 54-yard field goal.
"I thinkj it took him (Jones) a long time to kick the ball," Hickman added. "I was surprised. We're told to get our hands up because, when the kicker kicks the ball, it comes off at all angles. And you can get lucky, which I was."
It wasn't completely luck. Hickman, using the pass-rushing techniques he has learned as a backup defensive end, came through the line untouched between Philadelphia's left tackle and left guard.
"The key on any punt block, any kick block, PAT or anything, is getting off on the ball. I could have possibly jumped offsides, too. When you get off the ball, anything can happen.
"Who was the guy I beat? I'm not going to tell you. He's a friend of mine and I'm not going to say."
Hickman also said that Bill Malinchak, the former punt-blocker supreme who visited Redskin park recently, gave him some pointers.
"He told me to get my hands up and to make sure you don't hit the guy so, if you don't get the block, you don't get called for roughing the kicker," Hickman said.
Meanwhile, in the Philadelphia locker room, Jones and noncommittal about his second blocked punt of the season. The first one cost the Eagles the Dallas game and, as recently as two weeks ago, coach Dick Vermeil had some punters in for a tryout.
"Why do you think?" was Jones' reply when asked if he took too long to punt the ball.
"I don't think I did, but I'll just have to look at the films and see," Jones said. "A lot of things can go wrong. We'll just have to see."
Hickman's effort was the Redskins' second blocked kick of the game. It capped a day in which the Eagles returned the opening kickoff 46 yards but then were devastated by the Redskin special teams.
Windlan Hall, the newest Redskin, blocked the first of Horst Muhlmann's three unsuccessful field-goal attempts today. Hall said he got a good jump on the ball and that linebacker Frank LeMaster did not have time to bump him.
For Hall to be successful from the outside, Joe Harris had to keep LeMaster preoccupied inside.
"If I get off real good, he doesn't have time to get back to me," hall said.
"I blocked down (on Harris) and the guy (Hall) came around the corner," LeMaster said. "Sometimes you can get a double hit on them.But my main responsibility is to block the inside man."
Allen had his special teams introduced prior to the game. The goal of the special teams is to make plays that win two games a season. This was the first one this season, and it kept the Redskins alive for the wild-card berth.
The Eagles helped out, Hall said, by bad-mouthing the Washington special teams in a Philadelphia newspaper story early last week. Allen had at least four copies of the story posted at various places in the Redskin Park locker room.
"There was a lot of press saying we weren't very good," Hickman said. "The pressure was on us, and we rose to the challenge."
Nevertheless, it may have all gone for naught had not a swirling wind just pushed Muhlmann's 31-yarder outside the left upright with 22 seconds to play. A successful kick would have sent the game into overtime.
"The ones he missed were going straight down the pipe," said Roman Gabriel, the holder, "and a gust of wind gushed up and wiped them out. He hit them good. But it was a funny kinds of wind. It wasn't consistent. It was swirling."
Muhlmann refused comment.
THe Redskins escaped with no serious injuries. Fullback Clarence Harmon and defensive end Dennis Johnson aggravated sprained ankles, McLinton had trouble again with a pinched nerve in his neck and pete Wysocki reinjured his pulled hamstring . . . Harmon and Wysocki may not be able to play against Green Bay . . . Thomas, who gained 84 yards on 19 carries and had his longest run of the season, 31 yards, admitted he shoved referee Gene Barth in the second-quarter after fumbling, a turnover that led to the Eagles' first touchdown. The 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on Thomas said. "I think I brushed him. I just didn't think I brushed him. I just didn't think I fumbled the ball. I very seldom lose my temper like that." . . . Rokkie safety Mark Murphy just missed an interception on the Eagles' last drive. On second down and 10 from the Redskin 18 Jaworski's pass was tipped by Eddie Brown "(Harold) Carmichael tackled me when he saw me going up for it," Murphy said. "It was a hell of a play on his part." . . . Hickman and Hall received game balls.