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Flashback Friday—Moseley boots Giants

Aug 29, 2008, 5:00 AM EDT

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I’ll be posting some Redskins-Giants classics over the next week leading up to the season opener on Thursday. This one from December 19, 1982 needs no introduction for the readers of this blog. From the pages of The Redskins From A to Z.

RFK Stadium—”It was like a Hollywood script,” the Redskins Mark Murphy said, “you couldn’t have written it any better.” Except that even fiction couldn’t have been as compelling or exciting as the truth about this one.

A win would give Washington a playoff spot; a loss would put them in the muddled middle of the playoff picture. Before Mark Moseley, who was this close (thumb and index finger an eighth of an inch apart) to losing his job during training camp had a chance to attempt a game-winning, playoff-clinching record-setting field goal, the Redskins had to scrap and come off the mat and give him a chance to try it.

Washington turned the ball over five times in the first half, four of those being interceptions thrown by Joe Theismann. The first and third picks by the Giants led to touchdowns. The Redskins could only hold on to the ball long enough to tally a Moseley field goal and trailed at halftime 14-3.

After intermission, Washington began to get some control. Their 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the second half was exactly what Joe Gibbs had asked for at halftime, even though the scoring play wasn’t exactly as he had drawn it up in the playbook.

After passes to Don Warren and Charlie Brown led to a first down at the New York 22, Gibbs called for a halfback option. Joe Washington was to sweep right, pull up and throw to Art Monk. New York, though, sniffed it out and Monk was covered. Washington reversed his field and took off around left end. The Giants were caught flat-footed and the only obstacle between Washington and the end zone was cornerback Terry Jackson. Theismann dispatched Jackson with a textbook cross-body block and Washington scooted into the end zone.

It had been snowing off and on the entire day and the field was wet and muddy. The point after attempt slipped off Moseley’s wet toe, and the Redskins trailed 14-9.

As the fourth quarter began, the snow began to fall harder. It was time for a Riggo Drill, Gibbs decided, calling John Riggins’ number eight times in 10 plays. It was good enough to get in position for Moseley to kick a 31-yard field goal with 6:23 left in the game to bring Washington to within 14-12. It was Moseley’s 20th straight successful attempt, tying Garo Yepremian’s NFL record for consecutive field goals made. He was hoping for an opportunity to break the mark.

Deprived of Washington turnovers, the New York offense did nothing in the second half. They were given a golden opportunity to salt away the game after their defense stopped Riggins short on a fourth and one at the Washington 40, but Scott Brunner was sacked twice and they had to punt. The Redskins took possession at their own 29 with 3:38 left.

On second down, Theismann found tight end Rick Walker over the middle for 20 yards to get the drive started. A facemask call pushed it forward to the Giants 44. Gibbs wanted to get inside the 30 for a field goal attempt.

On third and five from the 39, Theismann squeezed the ball to Brown between two defenders for 14 yards to the 25. Riggins ran for six to the 19 and then six more. Walker, though was holding on the second run and the ball went back to the 29. After two more Riggins runs, the ball was at the 25 and the Redskins let the clock run down to 9 seconds before calling time out. It was snowing as hard as it had been all day.

With the record, playoff spot, and game all riding on the kick, Jeff Bostic’s snap and Theismann’s hold were perfect. Moseley tried to get a little extra foot into it, giving the Giant’s Byron Hunt a chance to get a finger on the ball. The kick wobbled, but it could not have been more beautiful for the Redskins and their fans. It cleared the crossbar with plenty to spare.

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