The play ideally takes 1.3 seconds, about the same time required to unscrew a jar top.
But for the Redskins, that one-second-and-change has been the most important part of their three hour-plus games against Detroit and New York the last two weeks.
Three times during pressure moments at the end of those two games, Mark Moseley has used those 1.3 seconds to kick field goals. One of his kicks forced an overtime, the other two resulted in Washington victories.
"It doesn't seem like much time, from the moment the ball is snapped to the moment Mark kicks it, but so much can go wrong it's incredible," said Wayne Sevier, the special teams coach. "One thing gets thrown off and you really don't have enough time to adjust. But if you go much beyond 1.4 seconds, you are asking to get a kick blocked. You have to be quick about it, so you have to be coordinated and well timed."
Moseley and his holder, Joe Theismann, have been together seven years. Center Jeff Bostic replaced Ted Fritsch as snapper last season, and has yet to deliver a bad snap to Theismann. Most of the players along the front line of the field goal team are veterans.
"We've done it for so long, we expect to be right every time," Moseley said. "It's become second nature to everyone. I don't think any more about anything going wrong, because it never does. That lets me concentrate on kicking, and that leads to a lot of successful kicks."
It's overtime in the Giants game, and the Redskins are in New York territory. Moseley, who minutes earlier was successful from 49 yards, is warming up his leg on the sidelines. A third-down pass is incomplete. Sevier yells for the field goal team. This time, the kick will cover 48 yards.
Moseley runs onto the field and immediately goes over to Theismann. They carefully mark off seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. Any closer and the ball may not get up in time to clear the line. Any farther back and it gives the defense a better angle to block the kick.
Theismann and Moseley look over the ground and select a level area to place the ball. Moseley marks it with his foot. Theismann kneels on his left knee and reaches down with his left hand to keep the spot. He won't move that arm again until the ball is snapped.
Moseley backs off from the ball. "I've done it enough that I know where I want to be," he said. "I need enough room to take my steps." He taps his right foot against the ground, so he can feel his toes, which are covered by six socks, rubbing up against the front of his shoes. Then he focuses on the mark on the ground.
Bostic already has looked over the football, making sure it is dry and free of dirt or other substances. The rest of the line (Don Warren and Neal Olkewicz at the wings, Darryl Grant and Karl Lorch at the ends, George Starke and Mark May at the tackles, Dave Butz and Ron Saul at the guards) groups in tightly, trying to prevent inside penetration by the defense.
Theismann reaches out toward Bostic with his right arm and yells "set." Bostic looks back through his legs toward Theismann. Bostic can snap whenever he decides. "I like to vary my head bob," he said. "I might do it once on one field goal, then two or three times the next time. I just don't want the defense to get used to my rhythm."
But he doesn't want to keep Moseley waiting for long. The snap is aimed, Bostic says, "so it lands over the mark area. That way, Joe can get it down fast. Anywhere in the area is good enough to get the play off. You do the snap over a seven-yard distance long enough you can pretty much get the same speed and same spin every time."
Moseley starts moving as soon as he sees the ball nearing Theismann. Ideally when it reaches Theismann's arms, the laces of the ball are facing away from Moseley. But not always.
"The first thing I do is make sure I catch the snap," Theismann said. "Then I feel for the laces, so when I put the ball down on the ground, I know where they are." Kicks into the laces don't travel as far or go as straight, so Theismann must spin the ball with his left hand to move the laces away from Moseley.
"Joe always puts the ball down two inches in front of the mark," Moseley said. "And he usually spins it so I'm kicking the ball on the seam opposite the laces. That's the ideal spot." Theisman normally angles the ball back toward Moseley, but he will alter both the angle and the position of the laces according to weather and wind conditions.
At this point, Moseley has been standing with his right foot slightly in front of his left. He begins moving toward the ball by taking a half step with his right leg, then a full stride with his left. His final motion is with his right foot into the ball.
The 48-yard kick soars over the crossbar and Moseley is mobbed by his teammates. "I honestly don't remember hearing the crowd or anything else until after the kick," he said yesterday. "I just know everything went perfect for 1.3 seconds."
The Redskins made more roster moves yesterday. To replace Wilbur Young, waived Tuesday, they signed defensive tackle Pat Ogrin, whom they cut in training camp. They placed linebacker Mel Kaufman (separated shoulder) on injured reserve and signed Alvin Garrett, a 5-foot-7 wide receiver/running back waived by the Giants despite his 35-yard kickoff return against the Redskins Sunday.
"We finally decided that Wilbur just wasn't going to produce," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "We gave him every opportunity but it just wasn't there and we couldn't live with him any longer." Young, obtained from San Diego to provide a pass rush, didn't have a sack this season and had lost his starting job a month ago. Gibbs said he had been fined twice the last two weeks for failing to lift weights after practice. But the Chargers immediately reclaimed Young.
Lemar Parrish (knee) definitely will not play again Sunday at Dallas, leaving Jeris White to start at cornerback.