It was the stuff of dreams and Brad Dusek insists some of his dreams made it happen.
"We all dream about something like this, recovering a fumble, maybe lateraling to somebody when you're being tackled," he said, "and because of that I believe it's easier to execute such things a "Horace Ivory to fumble is when they happen."
For instance, the first instinct for a Dusek when to dive for the ball, cover it with your body, make certain it doesn't squirt back to the opposition.
"But something told me no one was around me," Dusek said, "that I had time and I could relax. So I didn't pounce on it. Fact is, I even hestitated, so it would jump into my hands instead of me fumbling around with it."
With the ball firmly in hand, Dusek performed in the fashion that got him traded from the same Patriots he helped the Redskins upset yesterday. He acted like a fullback, or enough of a runner to escape tacklers for 31 yards before belly-flopping into the end zone for the winning points.
Dusek was a fullback at Texas A&M, but the Patriots drafted him in 1973 as a linebacker - and then did not have the patience to allow him to learn the new position. George Allen did, because Dave Robinson was Washington's left line-backer at the time, and sent his friend Chuck Fairbanks the now-anonymous Donnell Smith.
Dusek's flair for special teams caught Allen's eye, and now Dusek has matured enough in slightly more than three years to remind Redskin faithful of Jack Pardee in his two excellent seasons at line-backer.
In his 43rd game, Dusek yesterday recovered his 11th fumble and scored his third touchdown. Ironically, the gifted Ivory, who darted into and then out of Redskin hands much of the game, allowed the victory.
"That guy will be the best runner we face all year," said Diron Talbert, who also took time to gloat a bit after victory most NFL watchers believed improbable, if not possible, before the opening kickoff.
"Just watching," Talbert volunteered, "it looked like the Pats were a little there in the last quarter. That surprised me, that we'd be fitter than a bunch of young kids.
"We were outmanned up front, I believe. But we came at 'em. We outhit 'em the first half, shut down everything they had, and with nothing fancy. All we used was the basic 4-3 defense."
It was helpful that quarterback Steve Grogan mistook yard markers for receivers now and then; it also helped that several times he recognized his receivers they dropped the ball.
The first half showed that despite siginificant rule changes, the defenses still are superior to offenses in what usually would be the next-to-last-exhibition game.
Most of that came while the Pope was going overtime on television.
But if ALlen was in position to watch his first team in action, he probably was startled to see what has become of the Redskin offense. It still scores only occasionally, but it has some imagination - and might well get into the end zone now and then once everyone gets acquainted.
Number 86 illustrates the point. Early this week, it was the property of tight end Jim Mandich. Then Mandich was released and rookie wide receiver Larry Franklin was the given the number - for less than a day.
Franklin had to make way for Jack Delophaine - and 86 finally made it here yesterday drapped over the slender body for another waiver wonder, wide receiver John McDaniel. At times the Beathard Pardee door revolves faster than Allen's.
But the Redskin offense took advantage both of what its players do best and the flaws in the Pat's defense.
Washington's first play was a long pass - that would have been a touchdown instead of setting up a field goal had Danny Buggs not been forced to slow down to make the catch.
"When Joe (assistant coach Walton) put the play in, before the Atlanta game last week, he said it ought to work against the 3-4 defense," said fullback John Riggins. "Then yesterday he told us we just might go for the big one right off the bat today."
Nearby, Frank Grant had a better grip on his pride than he had on Theismann's flip in the end zone before the Redskin's only offensive touchdown of the game.
"The thing that makes me happiest," he said "is that the offense was on the field at the end. We weren't over there on the sideline yelling for the defense to hold 'em. We do have an offense.
"Before, we were very conservative.I don't think anyone will say that much longer. It's a new year, with new people and new ideas. Some folks are gonna have to adjust."
Grant picked up his gear and walked toward the bus, passing Jean Fugett, who was saying quietly, to Talbert: "Old man, you can still do it."