Hours before the Redskins were eliminated from the NFL playoffs without playing yesterday and after a sleepless night, Washington coach George Allen said the procedure used to break ties for the wild-card playoff berth should be changed.
The Redskins and Chicago Bears, after a squeamish 12-9 last-second overtime victory over the New York Giants, finished the regular season with 9-5 records and as respective division runners-up in the NFC. Chicago earned the wild-card sport by virtue of a better point differential (44) in 12 conference games.
"We'll all end up with the same record," said a somber, worn-out Allen, "and when you go by total points for the season, we've got the better point differential. But they end up breaking the tie in the conference. It ought to be total points (for all 14 games.
"This is still the National Football League. If we were playing against World Football League teams in there, that would be different. But it should be total points. But I don't want to make it sound like I'm making an excuse. I don't want that to be twisted around. But you know how I feel about it."
Allen said he would discuss his future in Washington after the Bears' game, if they won. But, afterward, Allen was unavailable.
"He got too upset. He left," a member of the family said when a reporter called Allen's home 15 minutes after the Bears [Word Illegible] out the win.
A tie in that game would have put the Redskins in the playoffs for the sixth time in Allen's seven years with the Redskins.
Allen's future with the Redskins remains unclear, as it has since it was reported Oct. 30 that Allen had not signed a contract for four more years here. The Redskins had announced agreement on such a pact July 25.
Redskin president Edward Bennett Williams refused to comment on the contract situation. It has been reported by Sports Illustrated magazine that Williams would like to dump Allen and bring Miami Dolphin coach Don Shula to the Redskins.
The contract reportedly is being held up because of Allen's refusal to relinquish his full control of the team's personnel and financial matters.
In a reflective mood while he watched the defensive films of Washington's 17-14 victory over Los Angeles Saturday, Allen said these remarks would hold up whether the Bears won or lost.
"No matter what happens this afternoon we've had a great season and we did what we had to in the stretch drive," Allen said. "It was just in someone else's hands. Everybody on the team - the coaches, the players, the staff - can be proud of what we accomplished. Not many people gave us a chance and we proved them wrong."
Allen said that the fans will point to the two early season losses to the Giants as the reason the Redskin season is over. Allen fingered the second loss to Dallas (14-7 defeat at RFK) as the killer because the Redskins played so well that day.
"The real shame," Allen said, "is that, I think, we can beat any of the NFC teams in there. We're playing better football every week I said a month ago, before the Dallas game, that our best football still was ahead of us, and I was right. It would be nice if we had a chance to show it. This has been a very satisfying year what with all the problems and the frustrations, the different things that happened. There were so many firsts this year."
He was talking of the slowest start in his seven seasons here and the key injuries. Allen stared into space and shook his head.
"To lose Chris (Hanburger) for 10 games, (John) Riggins, (Bob) Brunet, (Pat) Fischer, Dennis Johnson. I could go on and on," Allen said. "There's Lenny Hauss playing with two broken ribs, Jake Scott three ribs, Eddie Brown broken rib, guys having to take shots at halftime.
"Mike Thomas not healthy all year. (Billy) Kilmer battered and bruised. And then for him to come in and do in the big games when we needed him . . . here's Dallas Hickman playing with a cast on his hand.(Ron) McDole's been playing with a dislocated elbow (Harold) McLinton played three straight weeks after the doctor told him not to.
"Jeez, cripes, I'll tell you what. It'll be a long wiie before you a team that shows any mere class than this Redskin team. I'm very proud of them. I think everybody associated with the team should be . . . There are a lot of cities that would like to have a team like this."
The Giants-Bears game had its effect on Redskin players as well as the coach-general manager.
Pete Wysocki, the high-strung reserve linebacker and special-teams player, also left his Herndon home after viewing the game on television.
"He stepped out for a little bit; he was really upset," said his wife Sylava. "I just got home for the end of the game and I'm kind of glad. He told me, 'I can see why coaches get ulcers becuse that's the way I felt.' He was really led down.
Placekicker Mark Mosely, one of the calmest Redskins, said, "It was the same for me as it was for everybody else who plays or is a Redskin fan. We all probably came close to heart attacks."
Among those Redskins interviewed after the game, the consensus was that they thought the Detroit Lions had a better chance of beating Minnesota Saturday night than the Giants had yesterday against Walter Payton and Co.
"Of course, I was very disappointed about the outcome," said Rusty Tillman, the noted wedge-buster. "The New York Giants played a heck of a game. They had many opportunities to win. 'I'm happy for (Chicago coach Jack) Pardee to win because he's a good friend of mine."
Tillman watched the game with wife, Pam, and their dog, a golden retriever.
"It was not too calm>" said Tillman describing the scene.
"Everytime I would start jumping and going nuts, she (the dog) would jump in my lap. My wife was trying to calm us both.
"Of course it's a letdown, but we did the best we could. But it wasn't good enough. There's more to winning than scoring more points. You strive for excellence . . . That's the crux of it.
"The Bears should be proud of themseleves, the Giants proud of themselves. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose."