Surely, the mortal football world quivered a bit yesterday afternoon.

This time, the Washington Redskins were more than dominant. In a pulverizing way, they were near perfect.

The Redskins defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 51-7, in an NFC semifinal game before 55,363 at RFK Stadium. The Redskins reduced the Rams to splinters and rubble early, building a 38-7 halftime lead, and finished with a 44-point margin of victory, largest in the club's 47-year history and the largest playoff point differential since the Detroit Lions beat the Cleveland Browns, 59-14, in the 1957 NFL championship game.

"And this was the team that stoned Dallas," said Redskins center Jeff Bostic, nodding toward the Rams heap.

The Redskins are 15-2, have won 10 straight games and will play San Francisco (11-6) for the NFC title next Sunday at RFK, where their career playoff record glitters: 6-0.

"I'd say it's our best game of the year," Coach Joe Gibbs said. Saturday night, Gibbs had told his team of a statement Rams Coach John Robinson supposedly had made to his team on the flight home from their uplifting victory over Dallas last week. "We can break the Redskins like glass," Robinson supposedly had said.

"The Rams made some statements that motivated us," said defensive tackle Dave Butz, who was partially responsible for holding Rams running back Eric Dickerson to a season-low 16 yards on 10 carries. "We came in confident today. Damn confident."

Staring into the offseason after a 10-8 season had expired, Robinson said, "They dominated us offensively and defensively. We don't have any excuses." While some Rams complained of the broken sod, Robinson said of the Redskins, "They could have beaten us in the parking lot or on an ice skating rink."

Forget the blowouts over St. Louis and Atlanta and even that cherished 31-10 victory over Dallas a few weeks ago. Yesterday, the Redskins were at their most precise, their most powerful. Their offense breathed fire, scoring on six of seven first-half possessions, shattering a playoff record with 38 points in a half. (The previous record was 35, held by Oakland and Cleveland.)

Running back John Riggins followed the indomitable Hogs, running for 119 yards and three touchdowns, the latter a playoff record held by 13 others. That makes five straight postseason games in which Riggins has run for at least 100 yards. Quoth he, "(The Hogs) were opening some holes. I just ran through them."

Quarterback Joe Theismann, who wasn't sacked, zeroed in on the Rams' man-to-man coverage. He completed 18 of 23 for 302 yards and two touchdowns to wide receiver Art Monk.

When Monk wasn't digging the stilleto into the Rams' side with scoring catches of 40 and 21 yards, wide receiver Charlie Brown was catching six passes for 171 yards, stutter-stepping silly defensive backs like LeRoy Irvin and Nolan Cromwell.

Brown, who came out after his hamstring stiffened late in the third quarter, once leaped between two defenders to catch a 48-yard pass at the Rams' seven, setting up a second-quarter touchdown.

The grab was reminiscent of the elegance of former Pittsburgh receiver Lynn Swann. "Lynn Swann was one of my idols," Brown said, giggling. "I always try to catch the ball at the top of its flight. I guess that comes from playing basketball."

Running back Joe Washington corrected, "That catch reminded me of Charlie Brown, not Lynn Swann. Charlie is great. I'm quite sure most thought it was an incompletion."

The Redskins' defense made pulverizing perfection a circle of wonderful symmetry.

Dickerson, who averaged a league-high 113 yards rushing this season, was ever surrounded by defensive linemen and linebackers. His longest carry was just four yards. His 16-yard total was his worst of the season. His previous low was 37 yards in the 42-20 loss to the Redskins six weeks ago.

Dickerson's requiem to an extraordinary rookie season? "No one is in the class of the Redskins. I think their team is so strong that San Francisco can't win . . . Third-and-10 is nothing for the Redskins (offense)."

The Redskins' pass defense continues to rise from the ashes of that 48-47 loss to Green Bay 11 games ago, the team's most recent defeat. Marvelous was rookie cornerback Darrell Green, who batted away six passes, made a team-high seven tackles and intercepted Vince Ferragamo's pass that deflected off Dickerson's arms. Green ran the interception 72 yards down the left side for the game's final touchdown less than a minute into the fourth quarter.

As Green held the ball high 45 yards from the end zone, skipping all the way with no Rams in sight, surely a few 49ers' hearts skipped a beat. "Everybody knows that I don't brag," Green said. "The good Lord blessed me with a lot of speed and I knew no one would catch me. No, I wouldn't call it showboating."

By halftime, Riggins had run for 78 yards on 18 carries and Theismann had completed 13 of 16 passes for 250 yards.

On the Redskins' first drive, Theismann completed passes for 29 yards and 13 yards to Brown, and mixed in six runs by Riggins, one for a three-yard touchdown.

After the defense stopped the Rams, Theismann threw a 40-yard scoring pass to Monk, after cornerback Irvin had slipped backpedaling. It was 14-0, with 3:32 left in the first quarter.

On the Rams' next play, cornerback Anthony Washington intercepted Ferragamo, who finished a grim 20 of 43 for 175 yards with three interceptions, at the Washington 31.

The Redskins drove to Mark Moseley's 42-yard field goal and a 17-0 lead with 49 seconds left in the quarter. Moseley, who later was good from 36 and 41 yards, said, "I feel as on as I've ever been."

On the third play of the second quarter, Nick Giaquinto, who made fair catches on the first two punts, broke off a 48-yard return. With a five-yard facemask penalty added, it placed the Redskins on the Rams' 11. Moments later, Riggins ran one yard for a 24-0 lead. All this, and only 16 minutes had been played.

Though Ferragamo retaliated with a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Preston Dennard, who faked cornerback Washington into a near tumble, Theismann followed with the 21-yard scoring pass to Monk. It was 31-7 with 9:34 left in the half.

Six minutes later, Riggins ran for another one-yard score. It was 38-7, and just as it was in the first game against the Rams--when Washington built a 29-6 halftime lead--the Rams were forced out of their game plan. Bye-bye Dickerson. He ran three times for three yards in the second half. In the first game, he ran once for a three-yard loss.

"In the first half, I didn't make a tackle," said Redskins strong safety Ken Coffey. "Our linemen and linebackers were putting Dickerson down and I was only getting there in time to tap him."

The Redskins' offense was happy, too, outgaining the Rams' 445 yards to 204. Said guard Mark May, "Our goals are to be perfect in short yardage, have no fumbles, no sacks, have Joe pass for 300 yards and have John run for more than 100 yards. Except for that one (Joe Washington's) fumble, I think we got them all."

"We weren't going after Irvin," said Theismann. "We were just going to the (receiver) who was in man-to-man (coverage). Irvin just happened to be on the side I was throwing."

Told that the Redskins had limited Dickerson to 16 yards, linebacker Mel Kaufman's eyes turned wide and round. He said, "Whaaaat? That's amazing."

Kick returner Mike Nelms, sidelined with a knee injury until the Super Bowl should the Redskins make it, walked over to a reporter and, with a smile fit for the occasion, said, "You think they missed me?"