- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Washington began to wear down the beleaguered Dallas defenders, though. Billy Kilmer threw for three touchdown passes while using one of Larry Brown's replacements, a youngster named Herbert Mul-Key, to set up the air game. Mul-Key, football's equivalent of the old Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, ran eight times for 60 yards in his first pro game. For that matter, he never had played in college, either. Redskin Coach George Allen found him at a tryout camp last spring and placed him on the roster just before this game.
Anyway, Mul-Key, the best hyphenated runner since Turn-to, saved his longest gain for the last quarter, when he broke loose for 34 yards to the Dallas eight. Then Kilmer looked for Charley Taylor, who was covered closely by Mel Renfro, the balding Dallas cornerback. But Taylor managed to get a half-step on Renfro cutting across the end zone, and Kilmer hit him perfectly for another Washington touchdown.
Only 2:49 earlier Kilmer had brought the Redskins back into the game with a pass to Roy Jefferson. Noticing that Herb Adderley had come in to replace Charlie Waters, who was shaken up on a play, Kilmer called a quick-cut pattern against the cold Adderley. Jefferson gave him a fast head fake, broke by him and took the ball a couple of yards in the clear for the touchdown.
So when Washington got the ball back at 31-24, the 65,000 people who filled Texas Stadium began to twitch. They booed Quarterback Craig Morton and his floundering offense as they left the field, they booed the Cowboy pass defense as it gave up completions, and they booed the Cowboy rushing defense just for giving up small gains. Perhaps this finally stirred Dallas from its second-half blahs.
When Kilmer looked for Jefferson again, three Cowboy defenders converged on him. This meant that at least one of them was out of position—bad for Tuesday's grades, good for Saturday's score. The ball was batted up in the air, and Waters grabbed it as it wobbled around for the interception that led to a 26-yard field goal by Toni Fritsch that put the game out of reach. The Redskins did try to mount another drive, but this time Cornell Green, the Cowboys' strong safety, gambled and stepped in front of Jefferson on a sideline pass and intercepted.
Landry still has reservations about his defense, though he said after the game that he believed his offense—even without Roger Staubach—is superior to last season's. The Cowboys do have the same record they had after 13 games last year, but without being nearly as impressive. When they began their drive to the Super Bowl last season they won their last seven regular-season games in a row—and a couple of them by overwhelming scores against respectable opponents. By contrast, so far this season the Cowboys have beaten only the inept Eagles and Cardinals and the confused Colts by comfortable margins.
Landry is inclined to cite psychological reasons for the team's regular letdowns. "We haven't been playing with the same intensity we did last season when we began our move," he says. "We had been so hungry for so long last year; always coming close, but never winning the Super Bowl. Then we won the Super Bowl, and the big goal vanished. Our older players know how good they are and they enter so many games confidently, aware of their ability. We take a comfortable lead by halftime, then we have a tendency to lose our concentration and coast. The reaction of the other team, naturally enough, is the opposite. It comes out for the second half determined to turn the game around. Too often, that is exactly what it does."
Ernie Stautner, the defensive coach, offers a more pragmatic explanation for the Cowboys' troubles, particularly on defense. "All of our injuries have been concentrated in the defensive line," Stautner points out. "Pat Toomay has had a broken hand most of the season. That is a particularly bad injury for a defensive end, because it takes away his ability to grab an offensive tackle and move him around on the pass rush. George Andrie has a bad back which limits his ability to play, and Larry Cole missed five games with a hyperextended knee. Tody Smith started slow after knee surgery, then he got mononucleosis and was weak for a long time before we diagnosed it and took him out. Bill Gregory got a knee bruise and missed three games. Jethro Pugh had a sprained ankle that slowed him down and, last, but most important, Bob Lilly has been playing hurt all year."
Lilly, the perennial All-Pro defensive tackle, is one of the very few men who, merely by his personal contribution, can establish the whole character of a game. He started the season with a bone spur on his heel that limited his mobility, then ruptured a muscle over his knee and bruised his instep. Despite all these injuries, he played on.
"The injuries didn't bother me much against the run," he says. He is a big, rock-hard man with a face that conceivably could make him a fortune in Western movies when John Wayne retires. "But they took away at least half of my effectiveness on the pass rush, where you have to move around to break through. I get double-teamed a lot and, like most other defensive linemen, I get held most of the time. That's been happening for the last eight or nine years and I expect it. But to get away you have to be able to move, and I haven't been able to."