Forty Gut, 50 Gut, Riggins right, Riggins left, Riggins around end, Riggins ironing another defensive back onto the turf, Riggins, Riggins, Riggins, 37 times Riggins. When John Riggins was through with 1:05 to go last Saturday; he took off his helmet and bowed to both sides of RFK Stadium. He had rushed for 185 yards for Washington. The Redskins ran out the clock on a 21-7 victory over Minnesota, and pork futures were looking good. The Redskins now play Dallas, the only team that has beaten them this season, in the NFC championship this Saturday in RFK. The Cowboys get this free bit of advice: Watch for Riggins to carry the ball behind his vintage swine.
Of course, the 6'2", 230-pound, 33-year-old fullback, deer hunter and sphinx didn't beat the Vikings alone. Quarterback Joe Theismann completed 17 of 23 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Alvin Garrett had his second big game in a row, sneaking under Viking armpits for an 18-yard touchdown pass and a 46-yard flea-flicker that led to a TD. And the Redskin defense, which has now given up just 45 points in its last six games, held the Vikings to 79 yards rushing. Washington was also aided by the Minnesota receivers, who dropped perhaps a dozen passes, some because of intimidation, some because of the 44� chill; the shut-in Vikings haven't won outdoors this season.
But the game really belonged to the Hogs, that much-sooeyed group that blocks for Riggins, himself an honorary porker. Offensive Coordinator Joe Bugel created the fraternity in training camp to give recognition to those who root, faceless, in the pit, and he created a monster. In Washington, the fans have made a federal case out of the Hogs. A pig was brought to the stadium Saturday. Hog signs were everywhere: HOGTIE THE VIKINGS. WE'RE IN HOG HEAVEN. WE'RE HOG WILD OVER THE REDSKINS. THE HOGS THAT ATE MINNESOTA. This Hog business could get to be a boar.
When Hog Day Afternoon was over, Riggins didn't wait around for the reviews—he treats newsmen as if they were so many cornerbacks—but his praises were sung in both locker rooms.
"A Sherman tank," said Defensive Lineman Doug Martin of the Vikings.
"A Mack truck," said Viking Receiver Sammy White. "Or a bulldozer."
"Stupendous," said Redskin Coach Joe Gibbs. "Remarkable. Amazing."
"He can tote that rock, that's for sure," said Washington Tight End Rick Walker.
The first play of the game was a hand-off to Riggins off tackle, a simple 50 Gut. The second play was to Riggins. The fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth plays were hand-offs to Riggins. The Redskins have about 12 different plays designed for their single setback, but mostly Theismann calls Guts. "The Gut is our bread and butter," said Bugel. "I guess we ran the 40 Gut and 50 Gut 28 times. That just enables our linemen to come off and do the things they do best. Just straight-ahead power blocking."
In the Redskins' first drive, on third-and-goal from the three, Theismann fired the ball to Tight End Don Warren, who was alone in the end zone. Warren's route was supposed to take him into the corner of the end zone, but when he saw how crowded it was, he stopped and Theismann saw him. Then Warren, who is both a Hog and a member of the receivers' Fun Bunch, joined in the Bunch's Druid-like ceremony. Eight players crossed arms, leaped into the air and slapped palms.