This is a 21 part fictionalized story about my beloved football team's quest for the mythical Super Bowl Three-peat.
Chapter 8 - Ex-Girlfriends
Dashly Beald almost didn’t qualify as an ex-girlfriend. I was only with her for eight months, which was how long it took for her to meet Russell Biddison and discover that he was a widower worth ten million and would die sooner than me. Dashly was a sultry brunette, fleshy, shapely, husky-voiced female type whose sex appeal was effortless. She was in her late twenties when we met, divorced from a restaurant manager, and worked for a Washington radio station selling ads.
I had first met her in the mixed grill-room at the Avenel Country Club during the week of the U.S. Open golf tournament. She was surrounded by four golf pros, all of whom I knew, and one of whom, laughing and blushing, motioned for me to come over and join the group. I wandered over as Dashley was winding up a story of some kind, and the first words I ever heard her say were,
“So, which one of you is going to be the first to buy me a drink?”
She called the Tribune and left a phone message when she found out that the Redskins were playing at New Orleans. She said, “I thought the old shit finally bought it the other day. We were playing golf at the club. He fell face first into the bunker, and as I was about to kick sand over his scrawny butt but he popped up cussing and swinging at imaginary demons. He said he was going to sue the maniac who invented the putter; the damn thing could cripple somebody. In other words, false alarm. He is 82 now, for Christ’s sake!
Sunday School Classes
“I know you’re not likely to travel to Lafayette for any reason, but you Do go to Nawlins and you could call, you prick. We could have a merry old grope for old times’ sake.”
I was always careful with the manner in which I answered Dashly’s messages, which came on the average of two a year. I had to assume Russell might listen to my replies, too. This time, I replied:
“Dashly. Thank you for the get-well card. It was only a fake heart attack. I was out of the hospital in no time. I’m sure it was brought on by my work habits here at the Trib.
“It’s great to hear you’re playing golf now. You were always a natural athlete, as I recall. Best to Russell.”
I mentioned the message to Maureen. She didn’t know any of my exes personally, of course. She doesn’t even know what they look like. I feel obligated to tell her that some exes are still trying to connect with me. She’ll say something witty and move on. That night she said,
“I guess Dashly’s not teaching Sunday School classes anymore.”
Tough Win for the Redskins, 27-10
By Fidel Andrada
October 20 - This season keeps getting better and better for the Washington Redskins, who scrambled to win their seventh straight game today before hearing the best news: they are atop their division, two games ahead of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Redskins' sputtering 27-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints, coupled with Philadelphia's 24-20 upset of Dallas, moved Washington (7-0) two games ahead of the Cowboys (5-2). For those who haven’t been paying attention to pro football, shame on you, but the pundits and ESPN’ers are calling one of these two teams as the NFC representative for the Super Bowl.
"There is nothing better than to be No. 1," defensive end Dexter Manley said. "Maybe this will help us get a little more relaxed with the season. I was so glad that Dallas lost. They'll be back, but the two games are a big relief."
The Redskins hardly had an easy time getting to the postgame celebration. Even though many of the Saints' best offensive players sat on the bench most of the game with injuries, and even though inexperienced Guido Merkens was the New Orleans quarterback, the Redskins had enough trouble with their foes' aggressive defense to feel pressed until scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Relatively, the victory wasn't pretty, the offense experienced their second scoring slump -- if you call scoring 26 and 27 points a slump. Washington wound up with three touchdowns, mainly because receiver Charlie Brown brought his end zone touch today.
Brown, the standout player from South Carolina State, caught touchdown passes of 57 and 58 yards. The latter reception, which Brown pulled in after stepping out of bounds and then leaning over defender Johnnie Poe, led to one of the season's best controversies. It took game officials a good five minutes to decide to let the play stand, although neither Coach Bum Phillips nor Saints fans in the Superdome agreed with the decision.
These were Brown's third and fourth scoring catches of the season, second only to the 49ers’ Jerry Rice for the season. He had two other receptions, and gained 156 yards for the game, most by a Redskins receiver this season.
Although the team’s 448 yards were impressive, and the defense limited the Saints to 197 yards, this was hardly the easy game many might have expected once Saints quarterback Ken Stabler (sore throwing wrist) and halfback George Rogers (hamstring) were held out.
With almost nine minutes left in the game, New Orleans trailed by only seven points. Then Mark Moseley's 45-yard field goal, his second of the game followed by John Riggins' one-yard touchdown run with 5 1/2 minutes remaining, finally ended the Saints' hope for an upset.
"It was definitely tough. They gave us a very physical, difficult game," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "We tried just about everything we had offensively, but they came right at us and we didn't get a lot out of it. With the way they play, you can never look very smooth. You just have to take your shots and hope that's enough."
The Saints, ranked second defensively in the conference, went after quarterback Joe Theismann with all combinations of blitzes, which forced an uneven performance from the Redskins' offense.
"They did a good job on our early down running plays, too," said Theismann, who completed 14 of 23 passes for 264 yards and those two touchdowns to Brown. Seven of his completions were for at least 20 yards, accounting for 218 yards in all.
The opening touchdown came on the Redskins' fourth play of the game. The Saints blitzed all four linebackers and Brown was left matched against Poe. He ran a simple streak pattern down the middle of the field and Theismann struck him with a perfect, in-stride pass. Even though Poe was called for interference, Brown caught the ball and sprinted into the end zone to complete the 57-yard play. Moseley's conversion kick made it 7-0 with 11:06 left in the opening quarter.
After the Saints tied on Jimmy Rogers' four-yard run following Joe Washington's fumble at midfield, Theismann pounced again.
This time, New Orleans tried a safety blitz. Both Brown and Theismann saw it coming, so Brown ran a Go-pattern down the sideline, hoping he'd be covered only by the laboring Poe. He was, and Theismann quickly got off the pass from his 42.
That's when the controversy started. Television replays showed that Poe bumped Brown out of bounds just before he reached the Saints' 40. A flag was thrown for pass interference as Brown stepped out of bounds with his left foot, then reached over Poe and caught the pass, which the officials said was deflected by the Saints' cornerback. Brown pulled away and the Redskins had a 14-7 lead.
Phillips was not cheering. He was screaming at referee Chuck Heberling and head linesman Terry Gierke, who made the interference call. The officials huddled, then Heberling again signaled "touchdown."
The key to the call was the decision that the pass was tipped. Under the rules, according to the referee, once that happens every player is eligible to catch it, even one who has gone out of bounds. If Brown had not caught the ball, the Saints would have been penalized at the 40 for interference.
Phillips said he thought Brown "was out of bounds. He was right in front of me. But I really couldn't see his feet." Television replays appeared to show Brown's left leg was in the air and his right toe was in bounds when he caught the ball. But it was not clear whether his right heel was off the ground or hitting the sideline marker as he caught the ball, although it appeared his heel was off the ground.
The touchdown put the Redskins ahead for good, but it didn't put them in charge of the game. Earlier, Theismann had lost a fumble at the Saints' three at the end of a 16-yard scramble -- "I was trying to score instead of protecting the ball," he said. Next, the Redskins let a touchdown get away late in the half when, on second and two from the New Orleans seven after a 35-yard pass to Art Monk, Theismann was sandwiched by two tacklers and fumbled again. The ball bounced toward midfield and out of bounds before anyone could recover. Theismann's 16-yard scramble set up Moseley's first field goal, of 36 yards.
Morten Andersen's 36-yard field goal late in the third quarter pulled the Saints to 17-10. But Merkens, a wide receiver getting his first pro start at quarterback, was having problems against the pass rush.
Instead of the Saints tying, Moseley kicked his second field goal after Theismann passed 24 yards to Don Warren. Then the Saints got burned by Joe Washington, getting extra playing time, in part because John Riggins' thigh had been bruised in the first quarter.
Washington started to sweep around the left end, saw that was not a good idea and cut back to his right. He found an opening up the middle, dodged three tacklers and raced down the sideline before stepping out with a 40-yard gain. On the next play, Brown grabbed a down and in pass, did a zigzag for 19 yards to the one, then Riggins scored.
"They weren’t going to give us any easy ones today," Gibbs said. "No doubt we have a knack for winning. But this is a tough division and it’s a great feeling to be two games up on first place. The only problem is, now we have to make sure we stay where we are."