The Redskins remember.
As they prepare for today's 1 p.m. game against the New York Giants (WDVM-TV-9), they remember those two galling defeats last year against a New York team that won only five games in 1977. And they remember watching at home as the Giants snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and blew the last game of the year to the Chicago Bears.
That loss kept the Redskins out of the playoffs.
"We don't hate them," said Redskin center Bob Kuziel, "but we are tired of losing to these guys. They've got three in a row now, and we owe them something for last year.
"They did a nice job of messing up our season, and they beat us up pretty good, too. You don't ever forget those kind of things. So there's a lot of incentive for us."
They remember their own awful 11-game losing streak to the Redskins that finally ended in 1976.
"I remember George Allen trying to run up the score in a couple of those games," recalled linebacker Brian Kelley. "He was trying to kick a field goal with a big lead one year, and they threw four straigth passes to try to get a touchdown.
"I know Allen is gone, but most of the players are still the same. So the hatred is definitely still there. It's always the same when we play, a real bloodbath.They don't like us, we don't like them and it's going to be one hell of a football game.
The oddsmakers are saying the Redskins should survive it, installing them as five-point favorites against a Giant team that finally seems to have some sort of an offense to go with its usually aggressive defense.
The Giants would seem to be more desperate for a victory today. They are 4-3, and another loss would put them three games behind Washington, now 6-1, in the NFC East race with only eight games to play. The Cowboys trail the Redskins with a 5-2 mark.
"Right now, by far it's our biggest game of the year," said Kelley. "If we don't win, it's going to put us in an awfully deep hole. We've still got to play L.A. and Washington again, so we can't really afford to lose. We still think we can make the playoffs. We'll know a lot more Sunday night."
The Redskins are approaching the game with a must-win fervor.
"They're aware of what the Giants did to them," Coach Jack Pardee said yesterday. "But I've reminded them more about the importance of the game-hitting midseason with a 7-1 record and being in a good position rather than a struggling position. And with five of our last eight games at home, beating New York on the road would be a big factor."
The Redskins have played poorly the last two weeks, are coming off a sloppy defeat at Philadelphia and , as Joe Theismann put it, "We're looking to get back on the right track and start playing like we did up through the Dallas game."
"You just can't keep living off the fact that we're 6-1," added middle linebacker Harold McLinton, "because eventually you'll end up 6-6. This is the week we have to turn it around. It's a game where we better have the same kind of intensity we played with in our first four games. Everybody has to do the job."
Running back Mike Thomas once again did not take part in practice yesterday, and while Pardee is not totally ruling him out of action, Thomas is not expected to play because of a sore right foot.
Pardee said there has been no talk of injecting Thomas with a pain-killing shot that would allow him to play. "I don't even know if the doctor would give him one if he asked for one," he said. "As a coach, there's no way I'd get involved in making him do it. I wasn't hired to treat players, I was hired to coach them."
Thomas said yesterday there was "no way I can play, not the way it feels right now. It just aches all the time. I'd go if I could, but I can't do it. It's going to take time and rest. I wish I knew how long, but nobody knows. I just know it hurts."
The Redskins will shuttle three tailbacks with Clarence Harmon getting his second straight start. He will be relieved frequently by Benny Malone and Toney Green, with all three men shuttling in offensive plays with the sidelines.
The Giants have been generous to opposing running backs, allowing them an average of 4.1 yards per rush and 164 yards a game. Their pass defense has been inconsistent, and with cornerback Ray Rhodes out with a shoulder injury, the Redskins are expected to throw often at his rookie replacement, Odis McKinney. Still, the Giants already have 12 interceptions, equaling their season total each of the last two years.
"They may be giving up a lot of yards," Theismann insisted, "but those guys seem to like to kill me whenever I play against them. I've sort of been their personal target, and I respect their pass rush. They've also been using some of the 3-4 defense, and their linebackers are excellent.
"The main thing I'm concerned about is getting our offensive momentum back and executing. I'll attribute some of our problems to a lack of concentration on my part. It shouldn't happen, but sometimes it does. This week I can't let it go on. I've got to play better. We all do."
Defensively, the Redskins will be facing a horde of running backs that shuttle in and out. McLinton says he is mostly concerned about "The Big Man" fullback Larry Csonka.
"He'e playing better than I've seen him play in the last four of five years," said Pardee. "He's a tough guy to bring down. I never liked to play against him. He hurts people."
This year, Csonka has hurt the opposition mostly close to the goal line. He has scored five touchdowns, and is averaging almost four yards a carry on his bullish thrust up the middle. For outside speed, the Giants turn to Bobby Hammond, who gains 4 1/2 yards a carry.
The Giants have announced they will start Joe Pisarcik at quarterback. "He's a real tough guy," Pardee said. "He's taken some really bad shots this year, and he gets right up and comes back at you."
Pisarcik has not played well in the Giant's last three games as New York average only 165 yards of total offense. Last week, he was pulled at the start of the fourth quarter in favor of Jerry Golsteyn.
In pregame ceremonies, Washington's Tuffy Leemans, inducted into the Hall of Frame in July, will be presented his Hall of Fame ring. Leemans played on the 1938 Giant team that will also be honored . . . Giant kicker Joe Danelo has been successful on 11 of 16 field-goal tries, but has missed kicks of 24, 27, 34 and 39 yards . . . Puntee Dave Jennings has an impressive 44.9-yard average.