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7th Victory Survives Late Rally

By Dave Brady
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, December 15, 1969; Page D1

Sonny Jurgensen has led a career charged with peril, still convinced in his 13th season that history belongs to those who meet danger head-on and redeem themselves with daring.

He chanced a lengthy pass to buy time with just 63 seconds remaining yesterday at RFK Stadium, smuggled a three-point lead past the fast-closing New Orleans Saints with the help of a second-wind effort by the Redskins' defense, and delivered the birth of a prospective new Vince Lombardi legend.

By 17 to 14, the Redskins assured themselves of their first victorious season in 14 years with a 7-4-2 record and raised hopes among a sellout crowd of 30,354 that they can improve on it next week at Dallas, the home of the Capitol Division winners.

Such an accomplishment would transcend Lombardi's success in his first year in Green Bay, 1959, when he managed a 7-5 record with a team that won only one game the previous season.

Kuharich had 8-4 Mark
The Redskins last had an 8-4 record in 1955, under coach Joe Kuharich. They last won seven games in the first season under coach Otto Graham, 1966, when they split 14 games. The best the Redskins could do in the last two seasons was 5-6-3 in 1967 and 5-9 last year.

They were booed yesterday before all was forgiven. That happended after the Saints snapped back from a 17-0 deficit in the first half and threatened to upset the Redskins behind rookie quarterback Edd Hargett, a substitute who took them to touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters.

Starting quarterback Bill Kilmer was handicapped from the effects of a virus infection and the Redskins' defense, which did not give up a first down or permit the Saints inside the Washington 41-yard line before he was removed with the Redskins leading, 7-0, with 6:46 to go in the first half.

Roberts Returns for 25
A 25-yard punt return by Walter Roberts in the first quarter put the Redskins in business on the Saints' 38 ad Jurgensen needed only one pass, an 11-yarder on third down to tight end Jerry Smith, to keep the quick flight to the goal line prospering on the running of Larry Brown and Charley Harraway.

The Redskins lined up in a tight formation and Harraway went 12-yards for a touchdown after Brown sprang him at the line of scrimmage with a block that wiped out right safety Dave Whitsell.

The Washington defense staked Jurgensen to a close-up scoring shot in the second quarter when free safety Rickie Harris came up fast on a poorly-aimed pass by Kilmer, caught it in stride and raced 47 yards before Kilmer forced him out of bounds at the Saints' 27.

But tight end Smith was turned the wrong way when Jurgensen passed ot him in the end zone, and two plays later, Curt Knight kicked a 19-yard field goal.

No matter. The Redskins' defense was still in charge and after it stopped the Saints, Jurgensen produced another score within 2 minutes, 57 seconds on a 30-yard pass play to Harraway. Harraway took a short throw and simply ran away from former Redskins' linebacker Mike Morgan.

It was a 47-yard thrust in which Jurgensen turned strictly to passes and completed three of four. Knights's second conversion ended the Redksins' point production for the day with 72 seconds left before intermission.

Ominous Hint
There was an ominous hint that the Redskins were about to revert ot bumbling type in the third quarter when Elijah Nevett of the Saints blew in on Mike Bragg and influenced him to try to run the ball rather than punt on fourth-and-four.

He got three yards, the Saints drove for 53 after being treated to the inviting field position, and Don Shy wedged his way a yard for a touchdown.

As if to atone, Bragg punted 47 yards near the end of the period and teammate Marlin McKeever downed the backward-bouncing ball, on the New Orleans three-yard line.

Hargett Directs March
But Hargett began taking the measure of the Washington defense with a nice blend of running and passing. The beef trust of the Saints went the 97 yards to score on a five-yard blast past defensive linemen Jim Norton and Carl Kammerer and defensive back Harris by Ernie Wheelwright.

Shy, a mere 205 pounds, fooled the Redskins for 19 yards on a reverse. Running back Tony Baker, 225, stretched a short pass reception into a 27-yard gain. Running back Andy Livingston, 235, faked a double-reverse handoff and went 15 yards on a single reverse. Wheelwright, 235, rambled 17 yards to the seven and three plays later scored.

The Redskins' defense began catching it from the fans, then the offense was booed when rookie running back Brown was mobbed by the Saints for a short gain. Lombardi was included in the vocal censure a few minutes later after the same fans cheered his decision to try for a first down on fourth-and-one at the Saints' 30.

Saints Gamble
Harraway was thrown back without gain with 5:20 remaining and the Saints did some gambling, after taking possession on their 30.

The Saints came up to fourth-and-two on their 49 and Livingston was inserted to challenge the Washington defense, led by middle linebacker Sam Huff, whose role is now limited to these short-yardage situations.

Livingston shrugged off Redskins as he made good with three yards to spare. But at the Redskins' 43 quarterback Hargett went to passing on second-and seven.

Under pressure, he threw to and missed Shy among a gaggle of Redskins and Baker, the Saints' leading receiver with catches for 71 yards, was ignored while all alone and within reach of a first down.

Hargett Harrassed
McKeever blitzed Hargett and in his hurry he threw far short of split end Al Dodd. On fourth down and seven, Hargett was forced out of his passing pocket and sprinted toward the right sideline. But he paused to pump the ball once as if to pass and that was his undoing. Linebacker Harold McLinton forced him out of bounds with no gain, tranferring possession to the Redskins with 100 seconds left.

Jurgensen came up to third-and-three, looked for short-distance receivers, found none open, and bravely cut loose to split end Charley Taylor who was closely attended by Whitsell with Nevett also rapidly approaching.

Taylor extended his 6 feet 3 inches in a surprising effort. He caught the ball for a 20-yard gain, just before he was clobbered by Nevett, who was charged with personal foul for piling on.

It left the Redskins with a first down on the Saints' 15 with 53 seconds left and Jurgensen took all the thrill out of the offense after that with three plunges which brought the home season to a finish that was widely acclaimed.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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