Isn't this the way it used to go at RFK Stadium?
Wasn't John Riggins always the hero, rushing for more than 100 yards and scoring three touchdowns, even though he would love a little more rest? Wasn't it the offensive line that created the verb of the day -- surge -- playing like the Hogs of old?
There was nothing new about the way the Washington Redskins beat the Detroit Lions, 24-3, yesterday afternoon before 52,845 to even their record at 3-3 and jump into a tie for second place with New York and St. Louis in the NFC East with three straight road games coming up.
With running back George Rogers out for the final three quarters because of a sprained left shoulder, which is not expected to be serious, Riggins played much more than usual, running for three touchdowns, gaining 114 yards, and even throwing a blooper of an incompletion on a fake reverse that drew one of the loudest cheers of the day.
"The team's starting to feel like a team now," said Riggins, who scored on runs of 1, 21 and 5 yards after Mark Moseley (24 yards) and Detroit's Ed Murray (33) kicked first-quarter field goals.
"This is what I'm used to," said right tackle Mark May. "Run the ball, have fun and get two days off."
Coach Joe Gibbs gave the Redskins today and Tuesday off because of the victory, which looked very much like a rerun of last Monday's 27-10 win over St. Louis.
"The Redskins are really happy," said Gibbs.
Happiness is allowing your opponent just 28 yards rushing, forcing four turnovers (two that led to touchdowns, one that ended a drive at the Redskins' three), not committing any turnovers for the first time this season and sacking Eric Hipple six times.
Happiness also is a return to the good old days.
The story of this game is told best by Riggins' three touchdowns, which gave him 101 rushing touchdowns for his career, second in league history to Jim Brown's 106. In order:
The score was 3-3 late in the first quarter when Redskins cornerback Vernon Dean landed on tight end David Lewis' fumble at the Detroit 31 after a hit by linebacker Neal Olkewicz.
The Redskins scored in five plays; three were noteworthy.
On third and two at the 23, Joe Theismann threw to Art Monk for the first down at the 19. No big deal, except both Monk and Rogers suffered sprains of the left shoulder on that play. Monk was taped up and went back in to catch a total of eight passes for 73 yards; Rogers never came back and, after an X-ray, said he thought he has a mild separation of his shoulder, but would be able to play next week against the New York Giants.
From the 19, Theismann called new starter Gary Clark's number, telling him to run a post route in front of the coverage.
"It has to be a great pass, and it was," Clark said. "Joe hit me dead in the chest."
Clark came tumbling down at the goal line in the arms of cornerback Bruce McNorton.
Clark thought he was in the end zone. The officials put the ball at the one.
"I begged to the ref, but it didn't work," said Clark, who had seven catches for 58 yards and appears to be the starter for awhile, at least, in place of wide receiver Calvin Muhammad, who again didn't catch a pass.
So, with less than a minute gone in the second quarter, Riggins burrowed into the left side of the line for one of his patented touchdowns, which gave the Redskins the lead for good, 10-3.
The second touchdown: Things again weren't going well for the Lions (3-3). Hipple was sacked on first down at his 20 by right end Dexter Manley and right tackle Darryl Grant, and was intercepted on second down when Dean jarred the ball loose from receiver Jeff Chadwick right into strong safety Tony Peters' hands.
The Redskins started at the Detroit 25, and this one was all Riggins. After his four-yard gain -- with the Lions playing a 4-3 defense, not their new 3-4 -- the Redskins called for a variation of counter-trey, counter-load, in which left guard Russ Grimm and left tackle Joe Jacoby pull to the right side and mow down everyone in their path.
Or something like that. Riggins said he had not been patient enough on the play when it was called against St. Louis, and didn't get a long gain.
"The secret to the play is to give the line time to get the blocks," Riggins said. "I kinda slowed down and let the play develop."
It developed so well that one Lion who looked like he was about to be blocked by Jacoby fell down instead, and Riggins followed along nicely, carrying tacklers into the end zone.
Midway through the second quarter, the score read 17-3.
The third touchdown: The Redskins drove to the Detroit five with the second-half kickoff. On second down, the Redskins had no doubt what to call: 40-Gut.
It became a touchdown but looked like a rugby scrum; about six Redskins (five linemen and Riggins) ended up in the end zone, piled on top of each other.
"It was tremendous," said center Rick Donnalley, who landed on top of nose tackle Doug English and beside Grimm. "It summarized the whole day. We just surged ahead and I think John gave me a push and I just fell in."
Said Grimm: "I ended up on the bottom. I looked up and John was on top of me. I knew I was in the end zone."
This game had other moments.
Kicker Steve Cox's shoe changes may become one of the more interesting strategies of the Redskins' special teams.
Cox, who again pleased the coaches with his punting (41.2-yard average) and his kickoffs (all five carried into the end zone), was back to punt near midfield at the end of the first half when the Redskins called time out to let him change his shoe and try a 56-yard field goal.
But when the officials restored 11 seconds to the clock after the Lions declined a delay-of-game penalty, Gibbs decided 39 seconds was too much time to give to the Lions if the play backfired.
Cox, who kicked a 60-yard field goal last year with Cleveland, undoubtedly will get a shot at a long one sometime soon.
Then, there was Washington's defense. Linebacker Mel Kaufman intercepted Hipple's pass in the end zone to snuff out the Lions' drive to the three in the third quarter, and later hit Wilbert Montgomery so hard he dropped a pass and lost his helmet at the same time.
It was this kind of defense, Manley said, that leads to one thing.
"Anytime you go out and play defense like that, you'll go to the Super Bowl," Manley said. "If we go out and play like that, we're going to New Orleans."