The overwhelming concern today is whether the nation, or the world, can survive the Redskins. If we allow the mind to slip into neutral for a moment, what comes into focus is . . .
Mr. Sadat? The President knows you've been waiting for him to keep moving in the Middle East, but frankly there's an even worse problem here in Washington. John Riggins came out of the Cowboy game with some bumps and bruises. The Redskin team doctor is in the Oval Office right now.
The Senate delayed action yesterday on the tax bill in order to pass a resolution declaring Joe Theismann a national treasure and not to be touched - under penalty of imprisonment - by anyone larger than the Vice President.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff today were briefed for six hours by Joe Walton on the Redskin plan of attack for the Detroit Lions. Walton reportedly told the Chiefs that Washington's quick-strike capacity remained sound but . . .
You get the point. Once it seemed that the easiest way for any enemy to overrun the country was to wait for the first snowflake in Washington. Now all that seems necessary is to attack three seconds after the kickoff of a Redskin game.
Mr. Carter seems a man with his priorities in proper order, though he was heard to gush "Wonderful game . . . great time . . . thanks having me . . ." as he led Ham and Jody and the others into the elevator at RFK Stadium early yesterday morning.
Naturally, the owner of the Cowboys, Clint Murchison, could not resist poking his head inside the elevator and yelling, "I thought it was lousy."
In truth, Monday's 9-5 victory was no higher than fifth on the all-time Redskin-Cowboy drama chart. Only the dumbest of plays could have altered the decision in the final 96 seconds - Joe Thiesmann almost sank to the occasion.
The game's significance was in re-establishing Redskin Fever at a level not seen since 1972. Now we know why Jack Padree leaped from Chicago to Washington in a single bound after George Allen was fired. The most devoted Billy Kilmer fan must acknowledge that Theismann is emerging as one fine quarterback.
If his considerable ego forced Theismann to wave the football dangerously high as he was taking a game-ending safety, that was understandable. He had been waiting five years for that moment, to be an important part of an important Redskin victory, so why not flaunt it?
"I didn't feel the ground the second that clock hit zero," he said. "I was on a little cloud; me and my football. I loved every minute of it."
There were two aspects of the game that left veterans of this semiannual battle slack-jawed. The first was that the Cowboy offense was more con- servative than Washington's. Six times inside the Redskin seven-yard line the Cowboy ran between the tackles - and failed every time.
Even more significant, the Redskins ran on a team whose mission in life is to stop the run. The Cowboys take special pride in their history of restricting such as Walter Payton and Chuch Foreman to mortal yardage.
The Redskins' did not gain acres of ground - 127 yards in all - but they ran when that was necessary, especially in the second half.
"We'd put in a new style of blocking on conventional plays," said center Bob Kuziel. "But in the first half (middle linebacker Bob) Bruenig stopped it cold. I was reaching outside, so he'd come in behind me untouched.
"At halftime, we adjusted. I'd start like I was reaching outside again, then turn back on him."
One more thought: did Harvey Martin play? There was a fellow named Martin mentioned in the defensive stats, but all he had was one unassisted tackle. No solo tackles. No sacks. He was supposed to leave large 79s imprinted on Theismann's chest. Terry Hermeling whipped him - badly.
"Their defensive line was good," Riggins said. "But our offensive line was better"
Of all the memorable plays, the one that looms as large as any tends to be ignored. That was the one that Ed (Too Tall) Jones managed to lock his arm around Theismann's just as he was releasing a pass in the final four minutes.
The ball fluttered ever so long in the air, turning end over end, like a wounded duck struggling for its life. Two Redskins and two Cowboys seemed to have a decent chance to grab it. If a Cowboy has gotten it, he would have had an unmolested trip to the end zone.
It landed in John McDaniel's arms - for 12 yards and a first down at the Redskin 42.
If the Redskins could savor victory, the Cowboys could take pride in the classiest gesture of round one. That was Coach Tom Landry taking time to honor five recently retired Redskins during a gameday luncheon.
Mostly, the teams gave a performance worthy of presidential eyes. Theismann hoped he has found the appropriate analogy when he called each of the Redskin's five victories "like feeding a fire with gas."
"Before the game, the teams looked eye-to-eye with each other," he added. "Then we seemed to get elevators in our shoes. We got a little bigger and a little stronger. We did more things."
All of a sudden the town is delightfully daffy again. The important energy talk is how to get Diron and his pals fueled for the Lions. The Middle East? Today it's the folks who trail the Redskins by two games.