- - Monday, October 16, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In his column “Meltdown all-too-familiar for Washington fans” (Web, Oct. 13) Thom Loverro ponders where the Washington Nationals’ playoff loss last Thursday to the Chicago Cubs will rank “among the D.C. Sports Hall of Failures. It’s hard to judge one over the other.”

Sadly, one Washington sports loss stands out above all others. In 1979, the Redskins were 10-5 going into their season-finale showdown against archrival Dallas for the NFC Eastern Division title. Even if Washington lost, the Redskins would still make the playoffs unless Tampa Bay beat Kansas City and Chicago not only beat St. Louis, but overcame Washington’s 33-point lead in the net-point-differential tiebreaker. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers won 3-0, and the usually low-scoring Bears clobbered the Cardinals 42-6. Now Washington had to win.

The Redskins (who had crushed Dallas 34-20 four weeks earlier) took an early 17-0 lead, but Dallas rallied to go ahead, 21-17. Then Washington roared back. John Riggins’ 66-yard touchdown run put the Redskins up 34-21 midway through the fourth quarter. Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach responded with two touchdown passes, which gave Dallas a lead with 39 seconds left. Joe Theismann valiantly drove the Redskins to the Dallas 42 and clearly called a time-out with two seconds left, seemingly setting up a game-winning, 59-yard field goal attempt by Washington’s All-Pro placekicker, Mark Moseley. The officials ignored the time-out, however. The game was ruled over, and the Redskins missed the playoffs. Dallas‘ Harvey Martin then tossed a funeral wreath into Washington’s locker room. It was the most heartbreaking loss in D.C. sports history. (I was 10 years old and absolutely devastated.)

Three years later, Washington gained a measure of justice by beating Dallas 31-17 in the NFC Championship Game and then winning Super Bowl XVII over the Miami Dolphins, 27-17.

STEPHEN A. SILVER

San Francisco


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