The Redskins took full advantage of Joe Theismann's smoking-gun right arm, John Riggins' loaded legs and some old fashioned stomp-and-stifle play from the defense to rout the New York Jets, 23-3, yesterday in RFK stadium.
Washington's Diron Talbert permitted himself to look ahead.
"It's war next week," said the veteran defensive tackle from Texas, referring to the Monday night confrontation with the Dallas Cowboys in the same arena a week from tonight.
The Redskins, off to their fastest start since 1971, will come into that game undefeated in four starts and holding possession of first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys and New York Giants are at 3-1.
"It's going to be a mini-Super Bowl for us," said Theismann, who set a personal record for completions against a Jet team that was never in the game in the second half.
Theismann started his day by hitting 10 of his first 11 passes, including a streak of nine straight. When he trotted off at a final gun, his numbers read 21 completions in 30 attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns, giving him eight scoring strikes for the season.
There were touchdown tosses of 33 yards to wide receiver John McDaniel in the first period and 20 yards to tight end Jean Fugett late in the third for the six points that all but clinched victory.
And Mark Mosely, who made one field goal in the Redskins' first three games, barged back into the NFC scoring race with kicks of 39, 34 and 44 yards on a day when the Jets put up only a 31-yard Pat Leahy field goal on the first possession of the game.
Riggins went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the second straight week with 114 yards in 21 carrires, 102 of those yards in the second half against his former teammates. He now has gained 5,013 for his career.
"I known I said I really didn't think too much about having any kind of special feeling about playing the Jets," Riggins allowed. "Actually, I was fibbing. It felt wonderful."
In all, the Redskins rolled up 427 yards of offense, their most productive day since the fifth game of the 1976 season. They dominated the clock, knocked off 5 1/2 yards for each of their 78 offensive plays and could shrug off having had two touchdowns called back for penalties.
The Jets, after a quick start, meanwhile, were badly mauled by a Redskin defense that permitted only four first downs and 48 yards in the second half.
The Redskins were extra unkind to New York quarterback Richard Todd, who had the misfortune to have 285 pounds of Dave Butz sack him from behind and roll on top of him on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Todd, who had completed nine of 19 passes for 136 yards, left the game with a fractured left clavicle and that shoulder wound will cost the Jets his playing services for six to eight weeks.
Todd was sacked four times and his replacement, Matt Robinson, was blasted twice, for losses totaling 40 yards. Redskin free safety Jack Scott picked off an interception from each quarterback and the Redskins limited a Jet team heretofore averaging 349 yards of total offense to 215.
The Redskins did slip back into some nasty habits of the preseason with 11 penalties, including a half-dozen offensive holding calls, "and we can't beat Dallas like that," said Coach Jack Pardee.
The other bad news involved two Washington injuries.
Wide receiver Danny Buggs, who caught five passes in the first 20 minutes, suffered a slight separation in his right shoulder and will be shelved 10 days to four weeks, according to Redskin physician Stanford Lavine.
Reserve tight end Greg McCrary suffered a concussion on kickoff coverage late in the second quarter and was unconsicous on the field for five minutes. He revived and, taken by ambulance to Sibley Hospital, remained there last night for observation.
The Jets never did revive after marching, mostly from the ground from their 30 to first and goal at the Washington nine on the day's opening series only to come away with no touchdown. Butz sacked Todd on third down at the seven. Leahy came on and converted his sixth straight field goal of the season.
The jets never moved like that again all day.
"We were kinda relaxed out there (at the start); I don't know what was wrong," said Redskin defensive end Coy Bacon. "What did we do after that? We're old pros and we just got tough?"
Three times the Redskins defense either stopped the Jets for no gain or a loss on third-and-one situations to force New Zealand punts.
The Redskin offense, meanwhile, came alive on its possession of the second quarter.
Aided by a 21-yard pass inteference call against Jet cornerback Bobby Jackson and a nifty eight-yard scramble by Theismann on third and four, the Reskins moved to first down at the New York 33.
From there, Theismann dropped back, pump-faked once and reached McDaniel with a picture pass the Cincinnati castoff receiver caught in full stride deep in the end zone over cornerback Ed Taylor.
"It was basically a quick post pattern," McDaniel said of his first Redskin touchdown. "I made my move inside and the man bit on it. I jumped right past him and Joe made the perfect throw."
Scott's first interception and 17-yard return set up Moseley's first field goal for a 10-3 lead 5:18 before halftime.
In possession again with 79 seconds remaining, Theismann drove the Redskins to first and goal at the Jet seven with nine seconds showing.
Pardee gambled, mildly, and went for a touchdown, Jackson knocked down a pass intended for McDaniel in the end zone, but Washington tackle Terry Hermeling was called for holding anyway. The Redskins settled for Moseley's 34-yard kick and a 13-3 lead as the half expired.
The Jets were left for dead - well, for 2-2 for the season - late in the third period, when even two major Redskin errors couldn't thwart the home team: a fumbled exchange on first down at the New York one for a 12-yard loss by Theismann and a 10-yard touchdown pass to McDaniel nullified when officials called the Redskin receiver for pushing off to get free.
That last call - "I didn't think I pushed off," McDaniel insister; "in fact I know I didn't" - left the Redskins with a third-and-goal situation at the Jet 20.
Fugett lined up on the right side and ran the sort of post pattern on which he scored against the Eagles and Cardinals each of the previous two weeks - with a new wrinkle.
He faked to the post and broke the pattern off toward the left flag in front of the end zone. Jet safety Shafer Suggs seemed to have Fugett covered nicely, but the big tight end secured the ball an instant before Suggs tried to bat it away. Fugett fell into the end zone for the touchdown.
Moseley, who earlier had missed a 50-yard kick, connected from 44 yards on the Redskins' first drive of the fourth quarter for a 20-point lead with 7:34 left. The rest was for the statisticians.
"We couldn't be any prouder of our team than we are today," Pardee said in what has become a stock speech. "Now we're 4-0 and facing the Super Bowl champions, and it's going to be a great showdown. We'll have a fun week."
Tony Green was used to return punts (but not kickoffs). Pardee decided to play him after watching the pregame warmup. Green seemed rather tentative on his runs, and returned four kicks for 37 yards. Most important, he did not aggravate his sore left knee . . . Center Bob Kuziel suffered a mild concussion in the third period but walked out of the locker room under his own power . . . Mike Thomas took himself out of the game after fumbling and recovering a pitchout in the third quarter. He seemed rather angry, and hurled a cup of water offered him that splashed all over a security guard near the Redskin bench. "I was just frustrated with myself," he insisted. "That's all it was" . . . Thomas gained 57 yards and was given game ball along with Riggins . . . Thomas, who had a 10-yard TD romp nullified, gave his ball to offensive cordinator Joe Walton.