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Flashback Friday: Skins Win in Dallas and Get In


Flashback Friday: Skins Win in Dallas and Get In

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.

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Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

The day after the Eagles 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, Philadelphia coach Doug Peterson said that he didn’t think that all his players played hard.

Not everybody, and that’s the accountability that I talk about,” Pederson said, via the Birds 24/7 blog. “I hold coaches accountable for that; I hold myself accountable for that because it all starts with me. I pride myself each week to make sure the guys are ready to go, but at the same time, it comes down to a mentality by each individual player. This is a business where we have to be ready to go every single weekend because every team in the league — there are some teams that are better than others, but for the most part anything can happen any weekend.”

This sort of vague shot fired at the team did not sit well with the players. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the most respected voices on the team, said that the comments put players in a bad spot.

“I know the intent of the guys that I practice with and play with every day, and I didn’t see effort being an issue,” Jenkins said. “It puts us in a little bit of a tough position as players because now everybody wants to know, ‘Well, who were you talking about?’”

Some in the media in Philadelphia surmised that two of the players Pederson was talking about were tight end Zach Ertz and safety Rodney McLeod. One on play it looked like Ertz failed to block Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a Carson Wentz scramble.

“I’m not going to get into the details of every thought I had on that play,” said Ertz. “I’m focused on giving this city everything I have on each and every play. I promise going forward, I will do that. I think I have done that in the past.”

It didn’t look like McLeod did everything he could to keep Bengals running back Jeremy Hill from scoring a touchdown on a two-yard run in the first quarter.

“I thought the ball was going to hit somewhere else, and then obviously it came through. By the time I could react, Hill already crossed the plane,” said McLeod. “Just got caught flat-footed, tried to react and by the time I did, I feel like if I were to hit him it could possibly be late. Just a tough situation.”

You can see both of the plays in question here.

We don’t know if Ertz and McLeod are among the players that Pederson was talking about when he spoke of issues with effort. Leaving things vague like that doesn’t do much for the coach’s credibility in the locker room. And when that starts to be in doubt the coach gets asked about his job security. Pederson said that owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman have been supportive.

“From both of them, it’s been 100 percent support on everything. I meet with Jeffrey and Howie every week and we discuss a lot of things and go over a lot of things. Every week, it’s very positive,” Pederson said. “I just don’t think you can base a guy’s career on one season. I think you got to give it time to develop.

But the fact that these questions are being asked after he has been in his job for a dozen games is an indication that he is facing at least a minor crisis as his team prepares for four games that are likely to be meaningless in terms of the playoff picture. We will see if he can get the train back on the tracks by Sunday.

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Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

As usual, answer the poll and either rely on Twitter or come back here and hit the comments section.