- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

The scoreboard clock at D.C. Stadium read :07 when Charlie Gogolak trotted onto the field to kick the most irrelevant field goal in pro football history.
Boom! Gogolak, who had introduced soccer-style kicking to the NFL along with his brother Pete, was on target with a 29-yard chip shot as the gun sounded. Those remaining in a crowd of 50,439 roared their approval and headed for the parking lots many presumably with dazed expressions.
Nov. 27, 1966: Washington Redskins 72, New York Giants 41 still the highest one- and two-team point totals in NFL history for a regular-season game.
In the next day's paper, the Washington Star described the game perfectly: Redskins Now Lead Roman Circus League. No argument there, but what fun it must have been to watch.
The Redskins' first-year boss was Otto Graham, whose coaching career hardly matched his tenure as a Hall of Fame quarterback for the champion Cleveland Browns in the '40s and '50s. Graham's tough, humorless approach induced snickers from some of the Redskins' less motivated veterans, who mimicked his first name by calling him "Toot" behind his back. (There wasn't much relief in the disciplinary department when Graham was fired after three seasons with an aggregate 17-22-3 record; his successor was Vincent T. Lombardi.)
Graham also had an unfortunate habit of making ill-advised comments. When Lyndon Johnson turned up at a preseason game, thus becoming the first sitting president to attend an NFL contest, Graham said, in effect, "so what?" And when reporters asked why he had Gogolak kick a field goal in the closing seconds with the Redskins clinging to a 28-point lead in the "Roman circus" game, Otto replied, "I thought he needed the practice."
Yeah, right. And Steve Spurrier, who was busy winning the Heisman Trophy at Florida that season, needs more self-confidence.
Actually, Graham hadn't called the field goal. That distinction fell to Redskins linebacker Sam Huff, who detested Giants coach Allie Sherman because he had traded eight-year veteran Huff to the Redskins in 1964 while breaking up a legendary New York defensive core by unloading stalwarts like Erich Barnes, Dick Modzelewski, Roosevelt Grier and Dick Lynch, among others.
After years as a power in the NFL's old Eastern Conference, the Giants had totally collapsed in 1964. Two years later, they staggered into D.C. with a terrible team that had a 1-8-1 record ironically beating only the Redskins 13-10 six weeks earlier. And to this day, Huff still chortles over how he slipped it to Sherman in the rematch.
Before the game, with the Redskins heavily favored because of a porous New York defense that started three rookies and three second-year men, Huff approached Graham and said, "Show them no mercy, Otto. Promise me, no mercy."
Perhaps Graham had a merciful look on his face as the seconds dwindled down. After young Giants quarterback Tom Kennedy mistakenly threw the ball out of bounds on fourth down, giving the Redskins possession with seven seconds left, defensive captain Huff immediately flashed the time-honored "T" signal to the officials.
Preparing to re-enter the game and take a knee on the final play, Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen was flabbergasted at the action taken by his future broadcasting partner.
"I was thinking, 'Why did that idiot call time why not just let the game end?'" Jurgensen recalled last week. "But Sam really wanted to beat the Giants as badly as possible. It was such a freakish game that it wasn't particularly memorable for me except that Sam keeps bringing it up."
Jurgensen chuckled. "We were leading at one point something like 62-41, and Sam was screaming at me, 'Don't let up keep scoring.'"
The passage of 3 decades has done nothing to temper Huff's anger at Sherman, who was fired two years later.
"He was just too offensive-oriented," Huff said from his office in Middleburg, Va., the other day. "He let me and all our other defensive players go, and you can't win that way. I was very upset because we had won our conference six times in eight years before that. He destroyed the defense so completely that the Giants didn't make another title game for 20 years. By '66, 'Goodbye Allie' was the No.1 hit [song] in New York, and I was determined to get him fired.
"The week before that game, I went on live radio and predicted we would score over 50 points, and we did. That was one of my greatest days in sports. Yeah, Sonny thought I was nuts when I called the timeout, but Sherman had done it to me, and I did it to him."
Of course, Sam had lots of help. As Jurgensen said, it was a freakish game. The Redskins didn't exactly march up and down the field; in fact, the Giants had more first downs (25-16) and scrimmage yardage (379-341). Supreme passer Jurgensen was only 10 of 21 for 145 yards, and leading rusher A.D. Whitfield gained just 74 yards.
Yet this was a day when everything was going right on offense. Star flanker Bobby Mitchell sat on the bench for three quarters because Graham had been unhappy with his blocking, then raced 45 yards to score on an end-around.
The Redskins dialed long distance all afternoon. Their touchdowns also included a 63-yard run by Whitfield, a 62-yard fumble return by defensive back Brig Owens, 32-yard and 74-yard passes from Jurgensen to Charley Taylor, a 52-yard punt return by Rickie Harris and a 60-yard interception return by Owens. Gogolak missed his first extra point, then kicked nine in a row to tie the NFL's single-game record.
Despite the presence of Jurgensen and star receivers Taylor, Mitchell and Jerry Smith, the Redskins' outburst clearly was an aberration. One game earlier, they had scored exactly three points in a loss to the Browns. In 13 other games that season, Washington averaged 19.9 points while fashioning a final 7-7 record.
The following week, the hapless Giants lost to Cleveland 49-40, becoming the only team in NFL history to score more than 40 games in consecutive losses. It makes you wonder how Sherman managed to survive two more seasons as coach.
At his news conference the day after the Redskins' monumental victory, Graham lamented their "sloppy" defensive play, saying he didn't like giving up 41 points "but I imagine Allie is more disappointed than I am."
Old "Toot" always was a master of understatement.
Not all Redskins fans found the day joyful, though. A young sportswriter for the Star had been assigned to cover an auto race in Upper Marlboro although he had season tickets for the Redskins. Rushing to his car afterward to learn the score, he clicked on the radio in time to hear a broadcaster say, "And once again, the final score "
The young sportswriter nearly drove off the road. Thirty-six years later, he still wonders: Why did I have to miss it?

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide