The game was on the line and Mark Moseley was off to his worst start ever as a Redskin. He had missed field goals of 29 and 43 yards earlier in the game and was one-for-four for the season.
Yet no one was worried.
"I certainly wasn't," said Coach Jack Pardee. "In a situation like that, you go with the sure thing."
The surest thing the Redskins have is Moseley.
So with a fourth-and-one situation at the New York Giant 28-yard line with the Redskins trailing, 21-20, with 1:55 to play Sunday, Pardee confidently pointed to Moseley. His 45-yard field goad sailed through the uprights to give the Redskins their first victory of the regular season.
"I was confident I'd make the kick," Moseley said yesterday. I'm always confident."
Despite his game-winning kick, Moseley still has the un-Moseley-like statistics of two-for-five on field goals and two-for-three on extra points this season.
"Being two for five doesn't bother me at all at this point in the season," Moseley said. "Judge me at the end of the season and judge me on the field goals that count. I'm not in a slump or anything, I just missed a couple of field goals. I've forgotten about them already."
A short memory is one of the best assets a kicker can have. If he starts thinking about the one he just missed, he's going to miss the next one, too.
"You just do what you do best and if you miss one you go out and make the next one," Moseley said. "Kicking is largely control and that is mostly mental, but if you don't have the physical tools, you're in trouble.
Moseley has all of the tools and make sure he maintains them, he is on a workout schedule that is just a demanding as the one his blocking and tackling teammates endure. He does extensive running and exercising and lifts weights twice a week in addition to all the kicking he does. He is among the first at practice and the last to leave each day.
"I feel that I have to be strong if I want to be successful," he said.
"Most kickers are under the impression that all they need to do is kick," Moseley said. "But I come from the old system. I played running back, lineback, cornerback, quarterback and return punts and kickoffs, in addition to doing the place-kicking in both high school and college. I consider myself a real football player."
Moseley's coolness and ability to tune out all external things when he goes out to kick has made him effective at his position, but what makes him so dangerous is his range.
"The hardest thing to do is control the kick," he said. "But I've built my strength up to where I can kick a field goal from anywhere they want me to. mThat makes it just a matter of steps, approach and swing. They have to be the same very time, regardless of the distance."
All NFL teams have what they call a "high-range consistency." That is an area from which they feel the chances of their field goal kicker being successul are greatest. The Redskins' high-range consistency is from 52-55 yards, about 10 to 15 yards farther than the average team.The reason is Moseley's strength.
A 55-yard field goal means the line of scrimmage is the 38 because the goal posts are at the back of the end zone and the ball is spotted seven yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Moseley's consistency as a Redskin has been phenomenal. Last year, for the third time in the last four seasons, he led the NFL in field goals made, converting 25 of 33. He also made all 39 of his extra point attempts. Over the last three years, the only two extra points he's missed were blocked.
"I feel I shouldn't miss anythng from inside 45 yards," he said. "And there's no excuse for me to miss a 29-yard field goal."
Moseley's shoe has gotten about as much attention as he has. He has been accused of having it weighted, loaded and everythng short of being computerized.
Actually it is a tattered 5-year-old shoe made by a company that is no longer in business. It has a square toe and it's white and that's bout all that separates it from the likes of the high tops Johnny Unitas used to wear. t
When Riddell went out of business, Moseley signed a contract with Nike shoes and he helped them develop a special kicking shoe. It wasn't ready until it was too late for him to use it this season, so he painted the Nike stripe on the sides of his old shoe.
At Sunday's game against the Giants, announcer Tom Brookshier erroneously commented that Moseley had changed kicking shoes. "If people think I changed shoes, I'm not going to tell them different," Moseley said.
The Redskins guard Moseley's kicking shoe as closely as Col. Sanders guards his recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. It's their ticket to succeed. The shoe is locked in a secret place the night before the game.
Just when he thought he had heard every complaint imaginable, Moseley got a new one Sunday. The officials said he couldn't tie his shoes the way he has tied them his entire career. He has narrow feet so in order to get his shoes to fit snugly, he uses extra long shoestrings and wraps them around the bottom of the shoes a couple of times before lacing them.
Just before Sunday's game he was told he couldn't do that anymore because of an obscure rule. He was told that he had to tie his shoes like ordinary shoes. The incident was both humorous and annoying to Moseley.
As confident as he is of his ability, Moseley knows he isn't going to make every field goal. "I feel I'm going to make the kick every time I go out there," he said. "But there are some things I can't control that cause doubt, like the snap, the hold, the wind, the blocking and things like that. There's more to making a field goal than just my kicking it. Eleven guys have to do things right for a field goal to be good. I'm just one of the 11."
The Redskins brought in two players for one-day tryouts yesterday, but didn't sign either one. They were offensive tackle Phil McKinnely, recently released by Cleveland. Coach Pardee said they were brought in so he would know what they could do if the Redskins needed to sign someone quickly.