The St. Louis Cardinal dressing room was a study in contrasts yesterday after the Redskins snatched a 30-28 victory at RFK Stadium.
At 63, Bud Wilkinson handled the evaporation of a 28-27 lead better than Jim Hart at age 35, though the coach's smile did seem forced.
Another member of the organization pinpointed the root cause of all the disappointment following a comeback from a 27-7 defict in the fourth quarter.
Linebacker Mark Arneson did not manage a deep enough drop in a "nickel defense" to account for the speed of Clarence Harmon, whose 35-yard pass reception set up Mark Mosley's 39-yard winning field goal with 36 seconds remaining.
It was the eighth Cardinal loss in 11 games and Wilkinson's reaction was curious in light of reports that he has tried to resign a few times and may be facing dismissal.
What will this defeat do to the Cardinals?
"We will play like we have been playing," he said.
Hasn't that been bad?
"If a team plays as hard as it can, that's all you can ask. That comeback ought to tell you something about this team."
Hart was asked to explain how the Cardinal offense played so well near the finish after playing so poorly for the first three periods.
"If I knew I'd have started to play that way earlier,' he said curtly.
He seemed to be trying to discourage questions with noncommittal monosyllabic answers, to the point of being stubborn. When asked if the footballs were slippery from the drenching rain he said, "No."
Teammate Mel Gray earlier had mentioned, "For a moment we looked like the old 'Cardiac Cardinals' (as they were known from winning close games at the finish under former coach Don Coryell)."
Would the old Cardinals have won yesterday's game?
"I think so, but then maybe not," Gray said.
That was relayed to Hart and the quarterback was asked if that was thee current Cardinal problem -- they don't know how to win that way yet?
"That's right," Hart said, elaborating a bit. "You've got to do it before you know how it's done."
Rookie running back Ottis Anderson said teams have been trying to "psych" him into losing his temper, as the Los Angeles Rams did, when he drew personal foul penalty.
"The Redskins' No. 50 (Pet Wysocki) tried to get me rattled," Anderson said. "Once he said to me, 'How's your knee? I just hit you on your knee.' But it was my ankle that was hurt.
"Another time, Ken Houston told me, 'Watch using your forearm.' But I kept my cool. Coy Bacon did not take a cheap shot at me (when the Redskins defensive end was charged with a personal foul). He just pushed me down."
Anderson said he did not think he is receiving unusual punishment as a marked man since becoming so successful.
"I don't figure on carrying the ball more than 13 to 17 times if I am running for shart yardage; that's when I get the most punishment. If I am getting good yardage I like to carry the ball 25 to 30 times. If I am helping, I am ready to run as many times at they want."
Anderson said, "Everybody was kind of down at halftime," when the Cardinals was behind 17/7. On his 21 Yard touchdown catch that gave the Cardinals the lead for the first time, at 28-27, Anderson said, "The Redskins rolled up to the right side and left the center wide open.
"When the score was 27-14, we said, "Let's give it all we've got; itS do or die.' And we did."