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Outside of Joe Theismann's Restaurant in Falls Church, Va. on Saturday night, people were waiting to get inside to order a Number Seven sandwich for $3.75 (roast beef, Swiss cheese, cole slaw and Russian dressing). Inside, Joe Theismann, the restaurateur, was sitting at a back table with family and friends. Theismann raised his glass.
"Here's to our continued success. To money in our pockets. And to rings on our fingers."
"And bells on our toes," chimed in Mark Moseley.
"And to straightening out our field-goal kicker," added Theismann.
Only two hours before, the Washington Redskins had beaten the Detroit Lions 31-7 in one of the NFL's opening playoff games, and toasts were indeed in order. To Alvin Garrett, the wee receiver who caught three touchdown passes. To Jeris White, who intercepted two passes, one of which he returned 77 yards for a touchdown. To John Riggins, who rushed for 119 yards and single-handedly brought back the straight-arm. To Joe Gibbs, the Bible scholar and coach who is leading the Redskins to the Promised Land. To Kicker Moseley, although he actually missed a field goal, which means he has made good on only 83 of the 92 points he's been asked to put through the uprights this season. To the 55,045 ticket buyers, not a single no-show among them, who subjected the Lions to the sound and fury of RFK Stadium. To Bobby Beathard, general manager; to owner Jack Kent Cooke; to Lego Lamb, assistant equipment manager.
Has anybody been left out? Oh, yes. To Joe Theismann, disc jockey, camera salesman, holder for Moseley and quarterback of the Redskins. No. 7 completed 14 of 19 passes for 210 yards in a performance as appetizing as the roast beef in one of his sandwiches.
So cheers for all the sons of Washington, who are now 17-4 since their 0-5 start in 1981. By virtue of their 8-1 regular-season record, best in the NFC, the Redskins will play at home right up to the Super Bowl if they keep on winning. That's comforting news in Washington, because the team has lost only one postseason game in D.C., the 1940 championship, 73-0 to the Bears. Of course, there have been only three other postseason games in the capital.
Maybe that's why the Redskins don't inspire the awe befitting the NFC's second-ranked defense and fourth-ranked offense. "They're not a great team," said Detroit Coach Monte Clark before Saturday's game. Afterward he insisted, "I still feel the same way."
Early last week Theismann got an inspirational telegram he shared with his teammates: I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE NOT GETTING ANY RESPECT. GOOD LUCK. RODNEY DANGERFIELD.
In the opening minutes of the game, the skeptics were saying I told you so as Detroit drove with ease to the Redskin 21. But Billy Sims fumbled, and Linebacker Rich Milot recovered. Washington had to punt after only four plays, and the Lions were on the move again. They reached the Redskin 23 where, on third and four, Quarterback Eric Hippie tried to hit Sims in the flat. But White stepped in front of Sims, tipped and then caught the ball and ran untouched for the score. "All the way downfield, I kept thinking there's got to be a flag," said White. "When I got to the end zone, I sort of looked around to see if everything was O.K. 'Hey,' I said to myself, 'it's a touchdown.' "