The scenarios were simple going into the last game of the 1976 regular season. The Redskins needed a win to secure a playoff spot. The Cowboys needed a win to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. In a classic battle, the Redskins prevailed.
From the pages of my upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle:
Texas Stadium 12/12/1976—The Redskins moved past the Cowboys and into the NFL playoffs by scoring 14 points in a 50-second span in the fourth quarter.
Washington held a 10-7 halftime lead, but that evaporated less than three minutes into the second half. Roger Staubach hit Butch Johnson with a 43-yard touchdown pass to put Dallas up 14-10. That was largely the extent of Staubach's contributions to his team's effort; thanks to constant pressure by the Redskins defense, he completed just five of 22 passes on the day for 91 yards.
The visitors edged closer on Mark Moseley's 27-yard field goal about five minutes later. The Cowboys was still clinging to its 14-13 lead when they punted to Washington with 7:24 left in the game. Starting from midfield, a nine-yard reception by Mike Thomas and John Riggins' three-yard run earned a first down at the 38. After two straight incompletions, the Redskins faced third and ten. Then came what Billy Kilmer called "the play of the game."
Dallas came with an all-out blitz and safety Cliff Harris joined those rushing towards Kilmer. The quarterback barely got off a wobbly pass, but it found Thomas, who had snuck into the area over the middle that Harris had vacated, at the 10 yard line. He was tackled at the four.
A couple of penalties pushed the Redskins back to the 15 where they faced second and goal. Ex-Cowboy Calvin Hill followed Riggins around left end and swept in for the go-ahead score with 4:34 left.
Certainly, it was not yet time to celebrate, but that would come soon enough. On first down from the 21, Ron McDole sacked Staubach for a loss of twelve. On the next play, Diron Talbert swatted Staubach's pass into the air. It bounced off of Dallas center John Fitzgerald and possibly one other player before it fell into the arms of defensive end Dennis Johnson at the three. The game and the playoff spot were secured when Riggins took advantage of some brutal blocking that allowed him to score the clincher untouched.
RICHMOND - Everything seemed cool at the Bon Secours training facility when Jay Gruden left the podium on Wednesday, but that quickly changed when the Redskins released their Physically Unable to Perform list a few hours later. Jordan Reed landing on the PUP list was an unexpected bomber, a big deal even if the star tight end returns to the field quickly.
On Thursday, the Redskins will take to the field for their first day of training camp. There will be plenty of questions:
- When and why? Reed on the PUP list for the first day of camp does not mean Redskins fans should panic, but it also doesn't mean there isn't reason for alarm. Reed has a distinct injury history and it seems the team is being smart trying to handle an injury rather than let it linger. The Washington offense is at its best with Reed on the field. Jay Gruden will be asked about Reed a lot in his Thursday press conference; perhaps their will be some clarity.
- D-Line questions - Rookie Jonathan Allen should immediately help the 'Skins up front defensively, but beyond that, there are no sure things in the trenches. The Redskins added Stacy McGee from the Raiders and Terrell McClain from the Cowboys in free agency, and both are expected to have a significant role right away. Those guys have had productive flashes in their past, but injuries have been an issue. The Redskins need them to be good, and healthy, right away.
- Time to shine - Josh Doctson hardly had a rookie season as he dealt with Achilles injuries. He played just two games in 2016. With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon gone, the Redskins need last year's first-round draft pick to produce in 2017. A strong training camp, develping chemistry with Kirk Cousins, could help calm fears about the revamped 'Skins offense.
Stay with CSN all day for updates from the Redskins first training camp practice of the 2017 season. Football is finally here.
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RICHMOND—Redskins fans got into a panic when the news that Jordan Reed will start the season on the PUP list with a sprained big toe. But the injury is no cause for great concern. At least not for now.
It’s not that Reed isn’t an important cog in the offense. Of course he is. He was No. 2 in our ranking of the Redskins who will have the most impact in 2017. But there is every indication that the move is precautionary. History indicates that toe injuries tend to linger. Similar to hamstring injuries, the best path often is to rest and rehab until the pain is gone and then rest and rehab a little while longer. That minimizes the chances of the injury coming back.
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The irony here is that Reed did not go to OTAs in order to work on conditioning in Miami. Most areas of his body probably are bullet proof. But there is not a lot you can do to prevent a toe injury; it’s just not one of those areas of the body you can fortify with conditioning.
We don’t yet have a timetable for Reed’s return. They will not be in any hurry. Reed knows the offense and he has good timing and rapport with Kirk Cousins. After missing OTAs he came in a dominated the two-day minicamp. The Redskins could choose to have him work on rehab and conditioning until the third preseason game one month from today. They can let him get a little tune up against the Bengals and then put him back in bubble wrap until they open the season against the Eagles on September 10.
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That sounds like a good plan but there is always the possibility of a relapse. These injuries are tricky. And while it’s too soon to panic, some great concern would be warranted if Reed still is on PUP in a month.
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.