The Washington Redskins soothed their bruised pride yesterday by battering the Philadelphia Eagles with the kind of overwhelming defensive performance that recalled the best days of the George Allen era.
Washington's 17-7 triumph, one of the most significant under Jack Pardee, came after the coach spent the week reminding his players of their embarrassing, one-sided loss two weeks ago in Philadelphia.
The result was an inspired performance by his aroused defense, which turned old nemesis Wilbert Montgomery into an ordinary runner and produced a whopping seven sacks to the delight of the wildly cheering sellout crowd in RFK Stadium.
"They embarrassed us up there, they really took it to us," linebacker Brad Dusek said. "We had to do something about that. I think we handled them about the same way today. We couldn't stop them up there and they couldn't stop us in this one. We wanted this one real bad and it showed."
The Redskins stand 6-2, tied with Philadelphia in second place, one loss behind Dallas, in the NFC East Division race. But as far as Pardee is concerned, better days are still ahead for this team that already is playing far above the level most had predicted before the season began.
"Give the players credit for this one, not the coaches," Pardee said. "They did the playing. This was by far the best we've played as a team. Our secret has been our ability to have our backup players, when called upon, to do the job, and that continued today."
One of those backup players, Tony Peters, replaced injured cornerback Joe Lavender and turned in a sparkling effort against Eagle receiver Harold Carmichael, limiting him to one catch, while doing a fine job forcing running plays inside.
And some regulars also starred. John Riggins, going over 100 yards for the 15th time in his pro career, broke loose for 120 yards, his best day as a Redskin. Washington piled up 211 yards rushing, its most in the last 20 games.
Quarterback Joe Theismann pitched in with 15 completions in 24 passes, good for 136 yards. He also scored from the one and handed off to Benny Malone on a 10-yard touchdown romp.
But this afternoon belonged to the Redskin defense, especially the aging front line registered half as many sacks as the team total for the previous seven games.
The Redskins held Montgomery, who had gained 339 yards and scored nine touchdowns against them the last three games, to only 33 yards. He was all but eliminated from the contest by the second half, when he accounted for only eight yards.
Without Montgomery to balance the offense, Jaworski had to throw more than he wanted into the strength of the Washington defense. He completed only 12 of 27 attempts (he threw only 12 times in the first game) and was intercepted twice.
Until a fourth-period, 80-yard touchdown drive, Jaworski was controlled so well that he had but two net yards passing.
"It's a state of mind," safety Ken Houston said about this dramatic turnabout in 14 days. "But give credit to the defensive line. Up there, they were getting beaten to the punch. Here, they took it to them. I didn't think Montgomery was into his game, he didn't run the same, but maybe we had something to do with that."
Riggins was given a new running play that helped him counter Philadelphia's agressive defenders. And Peters, being used as a cornerback, linebacker or strong safety -- according to the situation -- helped confuse Jaworski.
A little deceit on Pardee's part likewise helped. He said at the end of the week Lavender, who has a sore knee, would start. But the Redskins had no intention of using anyone except Peters, since they were convinced they would be strengthened by his ability to match up with Carmichael and tackle on running plays.
"We enclosed the field better," Pardee said. "We funneled things better toward the middle. They stretched us out so much in the first game that we got hurt when they cut back."
The Redskins' surer tackling stopped most cutbacks today. Bolstered by rookie middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz, getting his first start, the center of the Washington line was all over Montgomery, never allowing him running room. And on passing plays, Montgomery was shadowed by rookie outside linebacker Monte Coleman.
"In the first game, we had the front four do some slanting which Philly hurt us on," Dusek said. "This time, we just lined the front four up and told them to go after them. And they did."
While Bacon, Diron Talbert (one sack), Dave Butz (one sack), Karl Lorch (one sack) and substitutes Joe Jones (one sack), Perry Brooks and Paul Smith (one sack) were frustrating Jaworski, they also were stopping the Eagles on first-down plays. Faced with many second-and-third down passing situations, Jaworski couldn't solve the Washington secondary.
"Up there, we used the nickel only four times, and today we must have used it 24," Pardee said. And in the first game Philadelphia ran 39 times for 209 yards, compared with 16 for 61 yards yesterday.
But despite Washington's gaudy offensive statistics (327 yards, 24 more plays than Philadelphia, almost 17 more minutes with the ball), Theismann and Co. had trouble once again producing a cushion of points.
They hurt themselves with two interceptions on tipped passes and one lost fumble, although Philadelphia offset those errors with four turnovers after not having any two weeks ago.
Washington got on the scoreboard in the second quarter after Olkewicz and Butz slammed into Jaworski and forced a fumble at the Redskin 43, which Bacon recovered.
Theismann passes of 14 yards to Danny Buggs and eight yards to John McDaniel and an eight-yard run by Riggins moved the ball to the Eagle 15. But another Theismann pass was batted away at the line of scrimmage and Mark Moseley came in to try a 31-yard field goal.
The kick was good, but Philadelphia's Al Latimer was called for running into Moseley and the Redskins accepted the five-yard penalty for a first down at the 10.
On the next play, Malone ran a straight dive play up the gut of the Eagle defense. Going through a gaping hole created by center Bob Kuziel and guard Ron Saul, Malone drove to the two, then lunged across the goal line. Moseley added the point-after and the Redskins led, 7-0, with 8:31 to go in the half.
Philadelphia then threatened, moving to the Washington 21 before Tony Franklin missed a 37-yard field goal. It was to be the Eagles' deepest penetration until the final period.
Washington stretched its margin to 14-0 midway through the third after Jaworski had been sacked on two straight plays, forcing an Eagle punt. Taking over on their 37, the Redskins used 11 plays and a 15-yard personal foul penalty to set up Theismann's one-yard TD run.
The key play was a 12-yard burst by Riggins, who was stopped on the four. The Redskins, who have had trouble scoring inside the five this season, netted just three yards on two running plays before Theismann rolled out behind Jeff Williams and beat Dennis Harrison to the flag.
By now, Jaworski had lost, net 18 yards passing. His frustration continued when Lemar Parrish made his seventh interception of the season shortly before the end of the third quarter to set up another scoring thrust.
Behind the running of Riggins and Ike Forte, playing much of the second half for Malone -- "we wanted to see what Ike could do," Pardee said -- the Redskins drove from their 38 to the Eagle six.
Riggins picked up 33 yards on one dash, carrying Herman Edwards the last 17 before falling at the 13.
But a third-down pass to McDaniel was three yards short of a first down and Moseley trotted on for a 23-yard field goal and a 17-0 Redskin advantage. a
Philadelphia finally scored with 4:17 left in the game. Jaworski needed only three plays to cover 80 yards, completing passes of 26 yards to Carmichael, 14 to Charles Smith and 40 to Keith Krepfle, who beat Houston to the ball and ran the last 15 yards for the score.
The Redskins reported three injuries. Guard Ron Saul, who sat out the second half and was replaced by Fred Dean, has a sprained ankle. Lavender still has the sore knee and tackle Terry Hermeling has a bruised knee.