Because Bobby Hammond was one of the few players who practiced well last week, he received some unexpected playing time yesterday. He took advantage of the opportunity to rescue the Redskins on a day when they tried their best to lose to the injury-riddled New York Giants.
Hammond's seven-yard scoring catch of a Joe Theismann pass with 39 seconds left earned the Redskins a 16-13 triumph at RFK Stadium, where there were a club-record 10,602 no-shows. The performance did little to help Coach Jack Parrdee's temperament or job security. Pardee readily admitted the triumph was hardly artistic, considering he needs some spectacular play from his team to impress owner Jack Kent Cooke.
The Redskins were anything but flashy in winning their fifth game against 10 losses. An angry Pardee told his players at the half, "You might as well go out and play 30 minutes, because you haven't played any football yet this afternoon."
One man who palyed no football at all was veteran safety Ken Houston, who is retiring after this season and was honored in a pregame ceremony. Pardee later complained that the ceremony "had thrown off our timing."
Pardee also knew that against a more talented opponent, Washington might already have been too far behind to rally instead of trailing by only 10-0. "Because of a lot of Giant mistakes and their injuries, we were still in the game," he said afterward.
An 11-yard run by Clarence Harmon on the Redskins' first possession of the third quarter -- the Giants fumbled the kickoff at the Washington 24 -- and a 40-yard Mark Moseley field goal 12 seconds into the fourth period got the Redskins back into contention.
Then, after Joe Danelo's 39-yard field goal with 7:16 left put New York ahead, 13-10, the Redskins drove 48 yards in the final three minutes for the winning touchdown. That score was set up by two key third-down plays: a 14-yard pass to Art Monk and a nine-yard run by Harmon on a draw that preceeded Hammond's score.
Hammond, an ex-Giant, has been used sparingly since he dropped a number of passes against Minnesota in the ninth game of the season. "I got down on myself hard after that one," he said. "I needed to get in and show myself I could play.
"It was my destiny to come through today.(Offensive Coordinator) Joe Walton came to me just before the half and told me to get ready. He said I could give us a spark. That's what I tried to do."
The Redskins turned to Hammond ater Wilbur Jackson fumbled twice in the first half. "He had shown some life in practice, so why not give him a chance?" Pardee asked. Hammond responded by catching three passes for 23 yards and gaining 47 yards on nine carries, all in the second half.
Pardee had sensed that the Redskins could be in trouble against the Giants. He chewed them out late in the week for lackadaisical practices. Then, at a postgame conference, he complained about newspaper articles yesterday morning that named a number of players who probably would not be returning to the team next season.
Grim-faced despite the win, he finally left the conference, saying, "That's all." Normally, he stays and answers questions for a much longer period.
Coming off an impressive 40-17 triumph over San Diego last week, the Redskins seemed primed to start playing consistent offensive football. Instead, they reverted to the same mistake-ridden, penalty-plagued style that had hurt them so much earlier in the season. And this time, they had another problem: Theismann suffered through his poorest afternoon of the year, overthrowing wide-open receivers, misreading coverages and, as he put it, "generally stinking up the joint."
Without Theismann clicking, the Redskins were in serious trouble, even against an opponent that was starting a secon-string rookie quarterback and a middle linebacker who was a guard last week.
"I don't know why this happens to us," said Monk about the first half, in which the Redskins had three turnovers, two first downs after their opening possission and 73 total yards. "It's the same thing that happened all season. We can't seem to be consistent every game."
The Giants helped the Redskins get started when linebacker Joe McLaughlin, a reluctant return man, fumbled the third-quarter kickoff and Dallas Hickman recovered at the 24.
Hammond immediately picked up five yards to equal the Redskins' longest run of the first half. Then Hammond bolted around end for another eight and a first down at the 11. On the next play, Harmon ran a draw, racing through a huge hole created by guard Ron Saul and tackle Terry Hermeling and into the end zone.
Mark Moseley, who missed a 52-yard field goal in the first half when the ball hit the crossbar, added the extra point and the Giants' lead was cut to 10-7.
New York had built its lead on a 48-yard Danelo field goal and a one-yard Billy Taylor scoring run after Jackson had fumbled at the 26. But even after the Redskin touchdown, the Giants continued to play conservatively, going mostly with runs and an occasional long pass by Scott Brunner, who overthrew three wide-open targets behind the Redskin secondary.
That approach finally caught up to them when the Redskins went 57 yards to get up Moseley's field goal. Now New York had to open up, and it paid dividends. The Giants drove 51 yards for Danelo's 39-yard field goal to agina go ahead, 13-10. The Redskins couldn't move on their next possession and Mike Connell had to punt to Alvin Garrett, who caught the ball instead of letting it roll into the end zone. He was smacked at the seven by Monte Coleman with 5:03 left.
With the home crowd finally aroused, Bo Matthews tried the left side but Coleman, the fast-improving linebacker, penetrated the backfield and tackled him for a four-yard loss.Then the Giants tried to get receiver Earnest Gray free down the right sideline. The play almost worked, but free safety Mark Murphy dashed over and tipped the ball away at the last second.
New York finally punted and Mike Nelms returned the ball to the Giant 48. With 3:24 left, Theismann wanted to set up the field goal. He got one first down when Harmon dashed around left end on third and one. Three plays later, on third and seven, Theismann looked first to tight end Don Warren, who had five catches, then went to Monk for 14 yards at the Giant 19.
Warren caught a short flip for three yards, then couldn't keep his feet in bounds in the end zone on a second-down pass. On third down, the Redskins ran a sprint draw to the right. Harmon took the handoff, ran through linebackers Kervin Wyatt and Brad Van Pelt and lunged to the seven for another first down.
"It was a safe play and Clarence made it a big one," Theismann said. "We had been running wide from that formation and I think the Giant linebackers were caught off guard. I just wanted the field goal."
On the ensuing play, Theismann rolled right and had the option to run or throw. Hammond cut behind routes by Warren and Ricky Thompson, eluded Van Pelt and was wide open in the right corner when Theismann hit him with the pass.
Moseley's conversion attempt was tipped and the Giants needed only a field goal to tie. After a first-down pass netted 21 yards, Brunner threw three straight incompletions before Murphy assured the victory with a fourth-down interception.
"I was trying to be too careful out there all afternoon," said Theismann, who was 16 of 32 for 136 yards. "I'm just glad guys like Clarence and Bobby saved me. It might not have been pretty, but it was still a win, and for us this season, that's enough."