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WHO SAYS PRUITT CAN'T DO IT?
Jerry Kirshenbaum
September 02, 1974
The Redskins won on a last-minute field goal, but the Browns may have another wondrous game-breaking runner
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September 02, 1974

Who Says Pruitt Can't Do It?

The Redskins won on a last-minute field goal, but the Browns may have another wondrous game-breaking runner

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Bragg's sky-high kick almost certainly would have resulted in a fair catch were it not for this year's rules changes, which severely limit downfield punt coverage. When Pruitt took the ball on his 27 he found only one Redskin in the immediate vicinity. He easily eluded this pursuer by darting to his right, then scampered along the sideline all the way to Washington's 28. Pruitt revels in the new punt-return rule, allowing that "it makes me even more valuable." A couple of plays later Billy Lefear, in the backfield to give Pruitt a rest, ran 15 yards for the score that made it 10-0.

The Browns built their lead to 17-3 midway through the third period when Brian Sipe completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Steve Holden. That play climaxed an 80-yard drive during which Sipe completed five of six, including two screen passes to Pruitt that were good, after some prancing, for 12 yards each. It was toward the end of this drive that Pruitt, sweeping left, tried to hurdle a couple of Washington bodies and was banged up. And it was on the very next series, momentously, that Theismann took over at quarterback for the Skins.

Theismann, a fourth-round Miami draft choice in 1971, chose instead to play in Canada. George Allen saw Theismann as a possible successor to his aging quarterbacks—Billy Kilmer is nearly 35, and Sonny Jurgensen turned 40 last week—and he gave Washington's first-round selection for 1976 to the Dolphins in exchange for NFL rights to Theismann. If one exhibition game is any measure, George has pulled off another slick one. Theismann completed nine of 14 passes for 100 yards and coolly capitalized on Cleveland's mistakes.

The most costly of these by far was a fumble by Sipe that the Redskins recovered on the Cleveland one and converted into a touchdown a play later. That closed the score to 17-10, and the Skins then proceeded to tie the game with a 98-yard scoring drive as Theismann picked apart the Cleveland secondary. The Browns went nowhere on the next series and a feeble punt enabled Theismann to move Washington into range for Moseley, who earlier had kicked a 47-yarder. Moseley dropped out of football after being released by the Houston Oilers 18 months ago but was picked up by the endlessly acquisitive Allen. He had booted five field goals the week before in a 16-15 loss to Buffalo, a performance that prepared him for the hero's role he assumed now by putting a 43-yarder squarely through the uprights.

Afterward, Pruitt wriggled his back in the locker room to show it was not badly hurt and said, "It isn't much, nothing to worry about." In a way, he and Theismann could be mutually reassured by their performances. The Redskin quarterback had also been considered too small for the NFL.

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