Sometime among all the Redskins games since 1937 there surely was one that had more glory than yesterday's. None leaps immediately to mind. A guy had to set a National Football League record with a final-seconds field goal that kicked the team into the playoffs just to make sure he kept top billing.
So much to savor. The 42-yarder by Mark Moseley that wrapped up some history and a playoff spot all in one snowy bundle in RFK Stadium was exactly right. Not too short, something even an ordinary sidewinder could pull off; not too long, where a kind puff of wind might have tainted the feat; not even too pretty, so we'd think the Redskins had gone and dressed a robot in the suit of the man they nearly let go in preseason.
Nothing common, nothing lucky about Moseley's 21st straight. You like to see a no-hitter end with a strikeout, a championship putt follow a wonderfully struck long iron, the finish of a 300 game solid in the pocket. Garo, a good man beat you with a splendidly professional effort. Human one quarter, with a missed extra point, heroic the next.
On most other days, any of the several special plays that made Moseley's magnificence possible would have kept fans humming for days. Rich Milot had three quarterback sacks and caused a fumble; John Riggins became the first runner in NFL history to gain 8,000 yards twice; Joe Theismann produced a precious touchdown -- with a block.
The teeny-tiny roots in the stadium sod even held as well as the Redskins' defense. That had been a pregame worry, that by halftime an essentially new field would resemble your back yard if Dave Butz and some oversized playmates happened by to claw at each other in cleats.
Having already become a playoff quarterback for the first time in his nine-year Redskin career, now all Theismann wants for Christmas is his two front teeth. Chipped a pair in valiant service to the nation's capital, although not on the play you might imagine.
He was wounded during a third-quarter blitz, when Byron Hunt charged him untouched, not when he forechecked Terry Jackson and cleared a path for Joe Washington on a 22-yard touchdown dash.
"There goes his modeling career," said center Jeff Bostic.
"It was good to do one thing right," said Theismann, alluding to the four first-half interceptions. "It was about a quarterback's dream, making the block that lets someone score."
Really? Quarterbacks drift into slumber smiling about giving up their bodies? Like, say, some hog type?
Is that right, Sonny Jurgensen? Washington's all-time pigskin pitcher was asked to recall his memorable blocks. "Don't remember any busted plays," he shot back.
It was that, and more. Busted and then beautiful. The passer on the play on which Theismann led interference was supposed to be halfback Joe Washington. As happens frequently, where and what Washington started was about a half-acre from the finish. Nobody open for a pass; no room for a run to the right.
What's left? Run left.
Redskins have learned to stay especially alert when Washington has the ball. Even if he's not in your neighborhood at the moment, he soon might be. Among the escorts on that improvisional path was Theismann. Possibly shutting his eyes, he dived toward Jackson's feet about the 15 and put him face first on the ground.
Washington skipped by and soon scored.
Washingtonians were mightily impressed. Most of them.
Theismann might have been in hog heaven; he probably won't be a Hog.
"It'll take more than one good block to become even an honorary Hog," said one of them, offensive tackle George Starke. But an offensive line that calls itself Hogs might have to be known as piglets for a while, Starke sort of admitted.
"It's gonna be embarrassing," he said, "looking at the films and seeing the quarterback blocking."
The rooters got Riggins to 8,000 career rushing yards with a two-yarder in the second quarter. Next series, he lost three yards. He bulled back over 8,000 yards in the third quarter, when Coach Joe Gibbs decided he was the safest distance between two points.
Moseley's Day was another defensive day.
"Gotta be up to us," Butz said again.
This game the defense gambled again, and won again. Blitzed from the outside so successfully that Milot and Mel Kaufman often seemed in a race to see who could jolt poor Scott Brunner first. Milot won three times; Kaufman once.
"Extra incentives this week," Kaufman said. "All stakes doubled. Two days off if we won." He sighed and said: "Sure wish we'd score 35 sometime, so we could let up a bit."
The free spirits on the team kid Theismann about the three-point offense. This week they joked about really testing Moseley, the scenario being the glamor gang stalled even farther from the end zone than usual and a couple of 70-yarders necessary.
Nothing quite so drastic happened. A simple half-the-field kick strong enough to sail over the crossbar after being flicked ever so slightly near the line did it. The Redskins either found, or forced, an offense even weaker than their own.
They are playoff-bound. Sputtering, but on their way. Destined, it seems, to go as far as Moseley's leg will take them.
Unwittingly, or perhaps not, Bostic made the most symbolic play yesterday. After the early celebrating, the mid-field hugging, had stopped, the snapper grabbed Moseley and lifted him a second or so. About time one of the Redskins carried the man who has carried them.