Joe Sullivan, vice president of the St. Louis Cardinals, acknowledged yesterday that they did not play well in the second half on Sunday in a 42-6 loss to Chicago that enabled the Bears to beat out the Redskins for a wildcard spot in the NFL playoffs.
But, Sullivan added, "I don't think the Dallas Cowboys scored more than 22 points against us in two games this season." He was alluding to the Redskins giving up 35 to the Cowboys and frittering away 17-0 and 34-21 leads.
"I remember four years ago, when Washington beat Dallas and knocked the Cardinals out of the playoffs, the Cowboys started Danny White against the Redskins instead of Roger Staubach. There was nothing said then about Dallas 'quitting'."
Sullivan was asked to comment on a remark attributed to defensive back Gary Fencik of the Bears who reportedly said, "I thought the Cardinals quit in the second half."
"I don't know what people mean by quitting," Sullivan said. "People trying to figure out what happened on Sunday should give credit to some others. Roger Staubach must have had a helluva game. He is leading the league in statistics.
"The Cowboys already had clinched a playoff spot, but they still must have played pretty hard. At that, they still had 34-points scored on them, as against the 42 scored on us.
"We had a lot of problems and injuries. We had a new coach (Larry Wilson) and had just gotten over letting go Bud Wilkinson. It was the first time some of our players had been in such adverse conditions. The temperature was 8 degrees, it was snowing and there was a strong wind, though the field was in good condition.
"We played poorly in the second half when Cleveland beat us. They scored 38 points on us and nobody said anything about 'quitting.'
"We wanted to have a good game for Ottis Anderson (who was hoping to win the conference rushing title). He was hurt in the first half and again in the second half.
"Larry Wilson wanted to start Steve Pisarkiewicz at quarterback. He had had two good games, then was disappointing on Sunday (five for 28 in passing). But he couldn't block the Bears rushing in on him and pass at the same time (while being sacked nine times).
"We want to look at him, Jim Hart does not have a contrct for 1980 and will become a free agent on Feb. 1.
"The Bears were so eager to score points that they called two timeouts in the last two seconds, even though they already had enough points to beat out the Redskins. We won't forget that.
"We've beaten the Bears before, but we never said they quit. As to Fencik's quote, that is something our guys will never forget. I think some of our players did not have good days. Fencik has had had days, too, I'd guess.
"The Bears have just as good a record as the Redskins (10-6)," Sullivan noted, wondering why Washington fans are upset about the Bears making the playoffs.
"Our problems are facts, not excuses."
As to criticism of Steve Little having a punt blocked and averaging only 27 yards on nine kicks, Sullivan said, "I was a snap on the blocked one. The wind was terrible. I don't know how much better the Bears punted."
They averaged 36 yards for four punts.
Sullivan wondered how much could be expected of a team that went into the game with a 5-10 record.