The Redskin season of the sizzling start will continue here today at 1 p.m. against a somewhat desperate Philadelphia Eagle team that would like nothing better than to end Washington's six-game wining streak.
"It's going to be a real battle," said Redskin Coach Jack Pardee. "From everything I've heard from Philadelphia, they are really fired up. They are calling it their Super Bowl. If they are going to make the playoffs, this is one game they have to win."
The Redskins also have some incentives. A victory in today's televised game (WDVM-TV-9) would tie the 1940 team record of seven straight at the start and would also keep alive two other rather impressive winning steaks.
The Redskins now possess the NFL's longest winning streak - nine games over two season - and have won their last five appearances against the Eagles, who are 3-3.
"I haven't really mentioned the streak," Pardee said yesterday. "Most of them are aware of it, but it's not the overriding factor in the game. What we have at stake is more important, I am more worried about defeating a dividual opponent. That's more important than seven in a row."
The Redskin already have a two-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys and a three-game advantage over the Eagles and New York Giants in the NFC East.
The Redskins are favored by two points today to maintain that advantage against an Eagle team that still considers itself a legitimate playoff contender.
"These next two weeks are really critical for us," said Eagle quarter-back Ron Jaworski, the No. 1 passer in the NFC. "We play Dallas next week and if we can come out of these next two games all right, the schedule the rest of the way isn't that bad. We think we have a shot to win all our games down the stretch.
"No, we don't hate the Redskins, but nobody in our division has any great love for anybody else. We're also kind of tired of losing to those guys."
All the Eagle losses this season have been decided by 10 or fewer points, including a 35-30 defeat in Washington four weeks ago.That was a wild affair that saw Philadelphia rally to put the game-winning touch-down on the board, only to have it nullified by a holding penalty.
The Redskins had severe difficulty protecting leads of 18 and 19 points that day, and had the toughest time of all trying to stop Eagle running back Wilbert Montgomery. He scored four touchdowns against the Redskins, gained 87 yards rushing, caught seven passes, and now is the second leading rusher in the conference with a 5.3-yard-per-carry average.
The Eagles also riddled the Redskins for a total of 313 yards last month, including 222 yards through the air.
"But our biggest problem was bad tackling," said Redskin linebacker Brad Dusek. "Ever since then, we've been working extra every day in practice on our tackling technique. We had a tendency to try to cream the guy instead of just holding on with both hands and waiting for help. I don't think that will happen again," Jaworski does.
"I respect the back out of the Redskins," he said. "But I think we proved we can move the football on anyone this year."
Jaworski has proved that he can control his strong right arm and put a leash on his past-tendency to fire deep every time he passed. He has become more of a thinking man's quarterback, tossing dump-off passes and concentrating on ball control rather than big-play bursts.
He has completed 55 percent of his passes, thrown for eight touchdowns, with only three interceptions. Jaworski has not had a pass picked off in the last 15 quarters, although he does not get the best protection in the league, with 13 sacks this season.
The Redskins are coming off their flattest effort of the season, a come-from-behind 21-19 victory over the Lions last week. They have also had a rather tumultuous week, with the trade of receiver Frank Grant, the acquisition and the switch of Tony Green to wide receiver.
There also is some question about Mike Thomas' health. The little tailback did not practice again yesterday because of a tender ankle and said he can play. Pardee, however, said he believes Thomas will be able to start, despite missing three days of practice.
The Redskin offense will be operating against an Eagle defense that will play its first game without signal-caller John Bunting, a linebacker who is out for the year with a knee injury suffered last week.
Linebacker Drew Mahalic also has been plagued by a mysterious allergy that has kept him out the last two weeks, and cornerback Johnny Outlaw has been hobbled by a groin injury.
Bunting and Mahalic will be replaced by rookies Mike Osborn and Reggie Wilkes. If Outlaw cannot play, Charles Williams, another rookie, will take his place.
"Sure, I'm aware that they're got some new men out there," said Redskin quarterback Joe Thiesman. "But our thinking hasn't changed.They've got a great offence and we want to keep them off the field as much as possible. That means ball control. We know they're explosive, they proved that last time we played. So we can't let them have the ball."