At last, the Washington Redskins did not suffer a game-day injury that will provoke a roster move.
However, while the Redskins were defeating the Indianapolis Colts, 35-7, today at the Hoosier Dome, General Manager Bobby Beathard said the team is still hoping to acquire another running back.
It seems likely that Wayne Morris, a nine-year veteran released last week by St. Louis, will be that player. Morris, 30, is a 6-foot, 210-pound fullback who is currently a free agent and has not been claimed by another team since his midweek release by the Cardinals.
The Redskins have been in search of a fifth running back since Joe Washington was placed on injured reserve Sept. 29 for a minimum of four weeks. Morris is considered a versatile player.
This season, the Redskins somehow have been able to overcome an onslaught of injuries and resulting roster moves that might have shredded a weaker team.
"In one sense, you'd expect a falloff (from injuries)," said fullback John Riggins, who ran for 94 yards and scored his eighth touchdown of the season today. "It is a compliment to our coaching staff and to our scouting department and Bob Beathard for selecting the players they have."
While Redskins marveled over Joe Theismann throwing four touchdown passes in a game for the third time in his career (done most recently against St. Louis in 1981) and wide receiver Art Monk catching three touchdown passes for the first time, they also reflected back to their second-half rally in the 37-31 loss at San Francisco in Week 2 and cited that as the turning point of this season. The Redskins had trailed, 27-0, near halftime in that game.
"Maybe that is what woke us up," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "It looked like we'd get beat, 55-0, on a Monday night national TV game . . . Man, it's been a long way (since then). I think back to 0-2 and our guys have been fighting ever since."
"We started so pitiful," cornerback Darrell Green said. "Since then, it's had to be an individual effort where we have each evaluated ourselves."
And the "we" kept changing. Ten players from the original 49-player roster went on injured reserve and, because of league rules that limit the number of players who can be reactivated without being exposed to waivers, some likely won't be able to return this season.
"I had a reflection on the sidelines today," said Riggins, who also pointed to the second half of the 49ers game as the turning point. "We had two bad games in a row, with the Super Bowl (a 38-9 loss to the Raiders) and the Miami game (35-17, Dolphins). We got about as low as you can get.
"I think our true character has surfaced. Since then, we've been playing like the team we can be."
Prior to today, Gibbs had feared that the Redskins might look beyond the Colts, to Dallas. Instead, they seemed to be looking back to the Philadelphia Eagles, a team they beat, 20-0, last week at RFK Stadium. In both games, the Redskins' defense dominated.
That defense has made 18 sacks in four weeks, including five today (two each by linebacker Monte Coleman and tackle Darryl Grant and one by end Tom Beasley).
In an age in which offense rules the football earth, the Redskins' defense somehow has managed to keep each of the last three opponents under 300 net yards. Few defenses are able to accomplish this. Two weeks ago, the Patriots netted 242 yards against the Redskins; last week, the Eagles netted 212 yards and today, the Colts netted 186.
"The defensive line deserves a lot of the credit," safety Curtis Jordan said. "And I think the secondary has really meshed together well."
Next comes Dallas, into RFK Stadium Sunday. For the third consecutive week, Gibbs has given his team days off on Monday and Tuesday. Someone mentioned the imminent arrival of "your friends from Texas" to native Texan Green, and he said with a smile, "Whose friends from Texas?"
When Grant heard that the Cowboys had lost to St. Louis, he took on a mock look of sympathy. "What a shame," he said, smiling.