Billy Kilmer may have the last laugh all. He came off the Redskin beach in a desperate situation yesterday and showed, even in failing, that at 39, he still can play football.
"No one's proven to me that I can't play and I still want to have the opportunity to prove that I can, either here or somewhere else," Kilmer said.
Kilmer went into yesteray's game with the Chicago Bears with the Redskins down, 14-3, with eight minutes left. He drove them from the 47 to the 13 before his pass intended for tightend Jean Fugett was intercepted by linebacker Don Rives.
The next time the Redskins got the ball, Kilmer drove them 61 yards in nine plays, passing the final 17 for the touchdown to Futett, who caught a deflection off Ricky Thompson.
That made the score 14-10 with 1:19 left but the Redskins never got the ball back.
For the two series he worked, Kilmer completed eight of 10 passes for 91 yards.
"I just wanted to score touchdowns," Kilmer said after his first appearance in a game since he played one play against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. "I hoped I could, but I came up one short." Yesterday was only his fourth appearance of the season. His last extended action was against Baltimore Nov 6.
Kilmer added, "I'm sure not going to come into the game running the ball when we are 10 points down and it's that late. I just tried to take what was given me. (Kilmer called his own plays on his touchdown drive.) On the interception, Jean was wide open, but I probably should have eaten the ball."
Mike Hartenstine hit Kilmer just as he threw the ball and the pop fly was well short of Fugett.
Kilmer would not say if he thought he should have been used sooner yesterday or more during the season, but he did say, "We should have been in the playoffs and we blew it. It's not my job to analysis problems, but I feel sorry for some of the guys who played all of the time and didn't make it."
The only life the Redskins seemed to have all day was when Kilmer was in the game.
"We just had a different feeling when Billy was in," said center Bob Kuziel. "I don't know exactly what it was, but I guess it has to do with the fact that nobody knows what will happen.
"Everyone on this team respects Billy. We respect Joe, too, but we really don't know what's going on (with Kilmer's career). Everyone decided we had to do something. We had to do everything we could. Everything was different emotionally when Billy went in."
But not even Kilmer could save the Redskins yesterday.
The play that did them is was Steve Schubert's 73-yard punt return for a touchdown that put the Bears on top, 14-3, midway through the third period.
He ran through the entire Redskin punt-coverage team. The last Redskin with a shot at him was Reggie Haynes at about the 25.
"He just took off," Haynes said. "He ran right over me. I had a hand on him, but I just lost my hold. That was the biggest play of the game."
Another player whose future as a Redskin is in doubt is running back Mike Thomas. Like Klmer, he, too, had a good game, despite a second-half fumble. He rushed for 65 yards in 16 carriers and cought five passes for 44 yards. This was Thomas' option years and he will become a free agent May 1.
"This was the first time I had a chance to carry the ball as much as I did," Thomas said, adding that he wants to be with the Redskins next season.
"I have a home here," he said. "I never said I didn't want to play here, but I don't know if I will be here. I want to be here, though. There are a lot of good guys on this team."
Ron McDole, who blocked a Bob Thomas field-goal attempt yesterday, said this could have been his last game. "It's been a very frustrating year," he said. "This might have been my last year and it could have been a great one. I don't know if I will be back or not. I don't know if they have a place for me. I'll worry about it when the time comes."
"We have to get our pride together," said middle linebacker Harold Mclinton.
There were some Redskins who still were able to look on the bright side. "I've had worse seasons," safety. Ken Houston said, "like 1-13 in Houston. I know you can always come back. This year in history. All we can do now is look forward to next year and strat all over again and hope it's better than this one."