A day after they thanked their lucky stars - and Horst Muhlmann - for a tense 17-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Redskins were the beneficiaries of more giddy good fortune.
They learned that a rookie quarter back with exactly one quarter of NFL experience will play for the Green Bay Packers at RFK stadium Monday night.
Packer coach Bart Starr announced yesterday that 22-year-old David Whitehurst, an eighth round draft choice from Fruman, will replace injured Lynn Dickey at quarterback. Dickey's left leg was broken in two places on the last play of the Packers' 24-6 loss to the Rams on Sunday.
The Packers also signed Brian Dowling yesterday to back up Whitehurst, adding an intriguing element to a game that would otherwise seem to be a total mismatch.
Dowling spent the 1977 preseason trying to win a job as a backup quarterback with the Redskins. He was cut the same night Allen signed linebacker Mike Curtis in the last week of the exhibition season, but Dowling remained in the Washington area studying his playbook and hoping to be re-calleds before the trading deadline two weeks ago.
The telephone call never came and Dowling returned to his home in Massachusetts. The Packers tried him out yesterday morning in Green Bay and signed him later in the afternoon.
Dowling, a bright young fellow with a degree from Yale, probably will be grilled extensively by Starr and his staff about the Redskins and their complicated defenses. But no one was shaking yesterday at Redskin Park.
"I don't think he can tell them much about us that they can't see on the films," said defensive coordinator Torgy Torgeson. "I don't know how many of our audibles he knows, but by the time we call them, it would be too late for them to change what they were doing.
"He might try to point out some of our coverages, but again that's something they can see for themselves. When he was in training camp with us, we were still very basic, and we've added quite a bit of new stuff. He wouldn't be able to change much to bothter us."
George Allen spent a good portion of his day-after-game press conference fretting about a rookie quarterback he's "never even seen before." He also spoke briefly about the contract he hasn't signed to extend his term as the Redskin coach for four more years.
Again, he insisted, the matter was in the hands of attorneys and that it was "a legality type of thing. I'm planning on being here."
Was he concerned about the effect his lame-duck status was having on his football team?
"I don't think it's had any effect," he said. "I don't discuss it (with the team), and all I'm concerned about is the Green Bay Packers. I think this thing will be resolved.
"Later in the day, Allen and his staff were scratching around to find game film on Whitehurst, who has played only briefly for the Packers in the first nine games, seven of them losses.
Whitehurst is 6-foot-2, weighs 204 pounds and has a propensity to scramble. He completed two of five passes for 46 yards in a mopup role against the Bears. During the preseason he completed eight of 15 passes for 90 yards and no touchdowns and ran twice for 22 yards. He beat out former Redskin quarterback Randy Johnson and third year man Carlos Brown for the backup spot behind Dickey.
The Packers could not bring back Johnson or Brown because they had been cut in the preseason and were not picked up by any other teams. After the trading deadline two weeks ago NFL rules prohibited Green Bay from signing either man.
A four-year starter at Furman, Whitehurst ran the veer option offense and averaged more than 400 yards a season rushing. The Packers press guide describes him as "a good leader, with polse and good character." He will need all of those attributes Monday night.
As Starr said yesterday in Green Bay, "Obviously there's going to be pressure. How would you like to be a rookie quarterback and have your first start on Monday night television?"
Publicly, Allen was insisting, "I'd rather see Dickey. It's like facing a pitcher you've never seen before, and we haven't done too well against quarterbacks who had their first start against the Redskins."
The N.Y. Giants defeated the Redskins twice this season with inexperience quarterbacks Jerry Goldsteyn and Joe Pisarcik calling signals, Privately, the Redskins were literally licking their chops in anticipation of Whitehurst.
There was other good news at Redskin Park yesterday. Rookie fullback Clarence Harmon's sprained ankle was not as serious as first believed, and he will probably be able to play against the Packers.
Allen aslo insisted he has no idea whether linebacker Chris Hanburger, out since the Tampa Bay game on Oct. 9, would be able to return. "He's supposed to have torn ligaments in his knee," Allen said. "The inside of his knee is still weak. He can run straight ahead, but when he twists and turns he doesn't have any stability.
"I'm not going to rush him. I don't want him to hurt it again and have an operation. It's been a real hardship to play without our general. He's one of the best defensive quarterbacks I've ever had."
Allen singled out half his [WORD ILLEGIBLe] ing team for individual praise, o [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the Philadelphia films. He said he was impressed with quarterback Joe Theismann's 11 for 14 passing in the second half, and admitted that if Theismann had not produced any offense in the third quarter, he probably would have pulled him in favor of Billy [WORD ILLEGIBLE] ner Theismann directed the Redskins on a touchdown drive in the opening series of the second half and wound up throwing two touchdown passes and producing 178 yards of total offense in the final two periods.
Allen said he thought the Ca [WORD ILLEGIBLE] als would be the team the Redskins will have to beat to earn the NFC wildcard berth. "There's no question that St. Louis is playing better football than anyone in the NFC (other than Dallas). And if anything, the schedule favors St. Louis, We've got a murderous schedule, in my opinion."