With the NFL lockout dragging on, The Insider is taking a look back to happier times -- when the Redskins weren’t just playing football, but winning championships. Every day, we’ll be revisiting different moments from the team’s three Super Bowl-winning seasons -- through the words of The Post’s beat writers and columnists. Today: Game 1 of the 1982 season.
September 12, 1982: The Sweet Satisfaction of Vindication
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 12, 1982 -- Mark Moseley was supposed to be watching this one. Perhaps from scoreboard flashes in some distant stadium as he prepared to win a pressure game for somebody else in the National Football League; more likely, from his Virginia home, as a Redskin in name but not in fact. A few weeks ago, Moseley and the rest of us figured rookie Dan Miller’s foot would be deciding the Redskins’ fate today.
Quote one: “I can’t believe the coaches ever doubted my ability.”
Quote two: “I felt I was gone (a day or so before the Redskins’ final preseason game).”
Both thoughts are sort of right.
The Redskins reasoned this way about Moseley: there is no other kicker on the planet they would rather have on their side with a game on the line; they were afraid Moseley would shank them too far out of a game this season to ever wit it.
”Eight times last year he’d missed the first field goal of a game,” said Wayne Sevier, the special teams coach. “We wanted him to realize how important every kick was, that the first one was just as big as the last.”
Whatever is possible to absorb about special teams, Sevier has. His mind gets as much of a nod here as Moseley’s. Charlie Brown’s and Art Monk’s legs, Joe Theismann’s arm and the nastiness of some pass rushers who suddenly appeared from under the Veterans Stadium carpet.
Sevier knew the Eagles would try that fake punt with 5:16 left in the fourth quarter. That was the dumb-headed Philly ploy that countered the Redskins’ folly of stopping the clock in the final seconds of the first half; both cost their teams a field goal.
”I knew they were gonna do it,” Sevier said, “because they’d done it against the Chargers in ‘79, when I was an assistant there. It worked then, for seven yards. I’d filed that baby away, even prepared a film clip that I showed the team Friday. Sevier punted out some numbers to back up that hunch: the Eagles have had up-back Frank LeMaster try the line plunge that got plugged today seven other times since 1977 -- and always worked it successfully. The play was called from the bench, but LeMaster failed to see it would fail. He has the option to “Omaha it,” to switch back to a punt with an audible.
”Evidently,” said Philadelphia Coack Dick Vermeil, “I can’t leave that responsibility to a football player. I’ll never do that again.”
Sevier believes his and the Redskins yelling to LeMaster that they expected to belt him shortly -- behind the line -- led to just enough of a bobble after the snap to assure Eagle doom.
Which makes Sevier .500 on perception for the day. He didn;t exactly say Joe Gibbs overruled him on the Moseley-Miller matter. Or did he?
”The decision (to start the season with Moseley) was made before the Cincinnati (preseason) game,” Sevier said. “I can tell you Gibbs said Moseley would be the kicker. If there were different feelings, well, I’m smart enough to know the decision had been made.
”And it was made because of just what happened today. If Miller had made those kicks, it would have launched a great career. But if he’d missed, it not only would have hurt him; it’d cost us a game. This is no place to break a kid in slowly.”
Gibbs trusted his conscience.
”A gut feeling,” he said. “Even though he missed a few short ones last year, he hit the long ones. I remembered that. If I’m going down, I’m going down with Mark Moseley.”
So it’s less than two minutes to go here, and on the Redskins’ sideline Moseley and Theismann are assuming the Eagles will score the touchdown that will require a field goal to tie.
”We were talking about how far back we could be (and still get the kick over the crossbar),” Moseley said. “I figured we could go 52 if we had to, probably squeeze out a bit more.”
In fact, Theismann squeezed out the four yards that kept it to a 48-yard smack. So strong, so true, so close to kicking perfection was it that Moseley did a right-angle left and slapped his hands before the ball was halfway home. Only doubters watched the full flight.
No, he said, no stone had been lifted from his chest.
”There’ll always be pressure,” he said, “but if you’ve worked hard enough and been around long enough the pressure becomes positive pressure. You work so hard everything comes naturally. It’s like walking. You don’t trip when you walk, ‘cause you’ve practiced it so much.
”Having (Jeff) Hayes kick off helps. I’ve had tendinitis in my kicking hip ever since I was with the Eagles (in 1970). I had to punt as well as place kick with them, and I wore out my leg. Had tendinitis ever since. But the hip doesn’t get as sore now. All the times I got hurt (with the Redskins) were on kickoffs.”
Moseley in fact has thought about life after field goals.
”I don’t think anything will replace that kind of (last-second, game-on-the-line) excitement,” he said. “I’ve always loved it.” The Moseleys of the world are allowed to bend the truth at times such as today. Clearly, if they relished pressure so much they would not have drifted to so many teams earlier in their careers. Anyway . . .
”I thought I’d been traded to about 27 teams this time about two weeks ago. So much talk; so many rumors.”
Such glory again today.