This is a 21 part fictionalized story about my beloved football team's quest for the mythical Super Bowl Three-peat.
Chapter 6: Ex-Wives
Somebody once described marriage to me as one year in Heaven and twenty years in the Light Heavyweight Division.
It couldn’t have been my Uncle Bob who said that. He stored up a backlog of ex-wives for sure, but he never stayed married long enough to know their bathroom habits.
Not that my uncle was ever torn up when the ladies walked out on him, usually in a foaming rage over some domestic misunderstanding.
Uncle Bob would just shake his head, light a Winston, and say, “There goes ole Connie. God help the world if she’d been born a twin.”
Having been raised by my uncle in south Arlington, I was privileged to watch a steady stream of women go in and out of our duplex. Some of their names were easier to remember than others.
Dorothy was the one who had a hair color of a V-8 juice. Ina Fay ran up the Hecht Company store bills. Patsy had a hooker-walk we used to imitate. Teresa played the radio loud and jitterbugged around the living room in her short-shorts. Bobbi Lynn had trouble with fever blisters.
All of Uncle Bob’s wives knew how to cook Texas chili. They had jobs. They either answered the phone for optical companies or licked envelopes stuffed with freight invoices.
They looked like funeral wreaths when they dressed up to go somewhere. None of them drove air-conditioned cars.
I used to wonder why Uncle Bob kept getting married. It seemed to always turn out the same.
He lives in a retirement home nowadays, the one beside an Army-Navy golf course. I put the marriage question to him while I took him out to lunch at Bob and Edith’s.
“Aw, I don’t know, Jimmy,” he said, studying a tout sheet, trying to figure out why the Redskins were 18 ½ point-favorite over the Cardinals. “I think you have to blame it on Wilbur. You can’t talk no sense to him.”
Wilbur was the name of my uncle’s crank.
Groundhog Day for the Cards, 45-7
By Fidel Andrada
October 13 - It was about as easy and ugly as a spanking can get. The Washington Redskins defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 45-7, yesterday. And as famously quoted by Bill Murray,
“It’s Groundhog Day. Again.”
The Redskins, who raised their record to 6-0 to stay one game ahead of Dallas (5-1), held a 17-0 lead at halftime and were ahead, 38-7, entering the fourth quarter. By mercy's end, the inept Cardinals had committed five turnovers and Bob Holly had completed his first pass as the Redskins' reserve quarterback.
"To give 21 points to a great team is suicide," said Cardinals Coach Jim Hanifan, his team now 3-3. The Cardinals have committed 13 turnovers this season, nine of which were to Washington. "It destroys all your thoughts and game plans."
Above all, this was a game for the defense, which scored two touchdowns, and the special teams, which set up two touchdowns.
The Redskins' offense did rev up for a season-high 209 yards rushing. John Riggins gained 102 yards on 27 carries, scored twice on two-yard runs and didn't even play the final 24 minutes. Nimble Joe Washington, who sprained his ankle last week, dodged and darted 17 times, and also for 102 yards. The Tandem, as they’re now called in DC, ran their first dual 100-yard rushes.
All the running helped the Redskins hold an 11-minute advantage in time of possession.
In the Redskins' locker room, though, the players with chests puffed out the farthest were the defenders. It's been like this for six straight weeks.
The defense set forth to wreak havoc on the Cardinals yesterday:
They sacked quarterback Neil Lomax five times, three times before he completed a pass. Several defenders had said recently that they felt the Redskins hadn't been blitzing enough, that maybe they had become too cautious. They felt the gamble had been removed from their previous year’s “Gamble Defense.”
Yesterday, though, players said that added blitzes caused added trouble for Lomax. "We pressured Lomax early and that established things early," said defensive tackle Darryl Grant.
The rush defense, statistically the league's toughest, held running back Ottis Anderson to 73 yards on 15 carries. In all, the Cardinals gained only 79 yards on 19 carries.
Most decisively, the defense supplied two touchdowns. This included the game's first, when linebacker Neal Olkewicz hit running back Wayne Morris, causing him to fumble into the St. Louis end zone. Cornerback Vernon Dean recovered for the touchdown.
The defense scored again early in the third quarter. With the Redskins leading, 17-0, Lomax threw a low, off-target pass toward wide receiver Roy Green near the Washington 30. Strong safety Curtis Jordan dove for the interception but missed. He did deflect the ball, only inches off the ground, to linebacker Mel Kaufman, who dove for the interception several yards away.
He caught it. Kaufman then rose to his feet and raced 70 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown that made it 24-0 with 13:47 left in the quarter. The Redskins now have caused 22 turnovers in the last six games and have an incredible plus-16 turnover rating.
"We worked on that play all week," Kaufman said, brows raised like those of someone joking. "The only guy near me was an (offensive lineman). If he had caught me, I would have been embarrassed."
The Redskins' special teams deserved an assist on the first touchdown. Punter Jeff Hayes, who has landed nearly 50% inside an opponent's 20, placed the Cardinals in a tedious position by dropping a punt dead at the one. On the next play, Morris fumbled and Dean recovered for the touchdown.
The Cardinals Never Had a Chance
And the special teams buried the Cardinals a little deeper when Otis Wonsley recovered Stump Mitchell's fumble on Hayes' punt at the St. Louis 23 midway through the third quarter. Two plays later, Riggins ran two yards for the 31-7 touchdown.
However, his fumble on the Redskins' 25 in the third quarter led to the Cardinals' only score: Lomax's 23-yard touchdown pass to Green. That made it 24-7. Although, it made little difference.
Ever the eloquent one, Riggins looked into a flock of cameras and pads and said, "Had I not fumbled it, I dare say we might have had a shutout."
It did not matter that the Redskins' passing game, so click-click-click efficient in the past month, seemed out of sync yesterday. Quarterback Joe Theismann completed 13 of 24 passes for 167 yards, throwing several deep that went off receivers' fingertips.
Five minutes into a scoreless game, Theismann even threw a rare interception when Alvin Garrett fell down at the goal line.
"Unfortunately, once you throw it you can't take it back," said Theismann. With a smile, he said of his pass, "I wish I could have pulled out a gun and shot it."
On this gray afternoon, though, the Cardinals never had a chance. This loss to the Redskins was as one-sided as the 42-21 defeat a 5 weeks ago.
Lomax had it the roughest. He completed 17 of 35 passes for 212 yards and said, "The Redskins' secondary is the best in the league. Murphy really calls a great game back there. I don't even want to comment on their defensive line . . . I talked to the referee about them all day. There were late hits and head slaps, especially by the ends. But they are a great team."
Redskins' field goal kicker Mark Moseley dressed quietly at his locker late yesterday. He was good from 42 yards in his only attempt. It had little bearing on the blowout.
"But it was still a good feeling," said Moseley. "I kicked the ball and just walked off. Just like last year."