There's nothing quite like having a 6-foot-7, 295-pounder slam your window of vulnerability shut. To get the full impact, we must join Dave Butz in midstride as he thunders toward the Chicago Bear end zone palming a football. The pillars in Soldier Field are quaking, tidal waves are gathering in Lake Michigan.
"And I feel like I'm running through time zones," the Redskin named Bruno said. He was full of himself later in the dressing room, never gloating, but saying a word no Redskin had dared utter in seven weeks, or since about midpreseason: fun. Over and over, Butz said it; today had been fun.
He made it so.
We join Butz again on the field, just before his interception that allowed the Redskins to get a 17-0 lead on the Bears in the second quarter. As the play unfolds, Butz's Law is running through Butz's mind.
"Never let a back through the line free," he is thinking, and here comes Sweetness, Walter Payton, looking for light. Butz grabs him around the neck, not so gently, and then lets go to avoid a holding penalty. When Payton stays in the general area, Butz smells screen, drifts a bit to the right -- and all of a sudden Vince Evans has thrown the ball right into his arms 27 yards from a touchdown.
It seems 27 miles.
Maybe 27,000 miles.
Butz was not bred for speed.
"The field got very long," he admitted.
He cradles the ball in his right arm and lumbers off.
Twenty-five, 24 . . . 20. Time changes from Central to Rocky Mountain.
Butz paws the air with the ball.
"Tryin' to push the air behind me," he explained. "I need all the help I can get."
Fifteen, 14 . . . 10. Rocky Mountain to Pacific.
A shadow appears.
"Thank God," he said. "That means I'm moving. I almost expected to get called for delay of game."
The shadow wears a number, 52, and has a name and job title: Dan Neal, center. It is determined to tackle an avalanche, and does, inside the one.
"I'm a team player," says Butz, humbly. "I want to let the offense take it in."
They did, in two plays. With a straight face, the press-box announcer said after John Riggins pushed into the end zone, "Redskin drive: one yard, two plays . . . "
This is being piddly. No negative thoughts invade this space this week. No emphasis that perhaps the Bears ought to be renamed the Bores and that the paper-bag fad has swept from Washington to here in a week. No dwelling on the suddenly conservative offense, any suggestion that Joe Walton may have slipped into town early this morning, donned a tan sweater, tucked his baseball cap inside his hip pocket and called all those off-tackle runs.
We'll squelch all but one line: Joe Theismann can't hand off into double coverage.
In truth, one nasty tale must be retold, the one that made what Butz did today all the more special. Thursday, Butz had as frustrating a practice as a man can experience.
"First I slipped (on the artifical turf)," he said, "and scraped about four inches of skin (off his leg). Then I sprained my finger (the third one on his left hand). Badly."
Matters got worse.
"I was practicing what we call a 'spike' move, where I move down inside (to plug every possible Payton hole). The back comes at me, not at full speed, but he leaned hard into my (left) shoulder and I strained some ligaments. I didn't practice Friday. There were no shots today, just a few aspirin. Amazing what wanting a win will do."
Butz admitted: "After five losses, we were kinda forgetting how to spell win."
He wanted this one more than you can imagine.
"The humiliation of last year (being down, 35-0, at the half, with Payton scoring the first time he touched the ball, possibly through Butz's area), lots of friends and relatives here. Some people around here still remember me. Some high school buddies came.
"And my parents and four sisters were here. One sister arranged her wedding around the game. She got married yesterday, so I could attend."
For a change, the Redskins did not give a game away. Their turtle offense, the methodical one Joe Gibbs promised had been punted into the Potomac, resurfaced. Successfully.
Here is the only statistic you need to remember about this game: Otis Wonsley, arguably the most obscure Redskin, gained more than twice as many yards as Payton, 11 to 5.
Being diplomatic, Butz said of the Bear offense: "Pretty much patterned around Payton. When he's not outstanding, it does tail off."
Evans completed eight passes to teammates and four to Redskins. That screen to Payton was the best Redskin play of the game. The first time Neal Olkewicz intercepted and scored a touchdown; the second time was the Butz burial.
"Nothing compares with winning," Terry Metcalf said. "Helps the ego, knowing you can beat somebody. We feel this week like New England felt last week."
The Pats had been the next-to-last winless team in the NFL. Now there are none.
"We made the Bears play our game," Metcalf added. The one they borrowed from Jack Pardee. Or Vince Lombardi. Or Stagg. The one that works quite a lot: let the other team lose.
There are few other options when injuries strike as often as they have to the Redskin offensive line.
"We were just trying to get a group together who could run a play," Gibbs said of the offense he fielded after Mark May and Joe Jacoby were hurt. "We didn't want to be too fancy."
By the time the Redskins had gained control here, they had earned a bit more respect around the league. That loss last week lost some of its sting when the 49ers were announced as blitzing the Cowboys. This was in the third quarter, and the familiar booing was floating about the field.
To the Redskins this day, it was a sweet symphony.