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Flashback Friday—Redskins vs. Rams

Oct 10, 2008, 5:00 AM EDT

Despite the alliteration, Redskins-Rams doesn’t necessarily roll off of the tongue when talking about great NFL rivals. The truth is that the teams have been adversaries both on and off the field in some interesting, even historic, confrontations.

The Washington Redskins had never lost to the Cleveland Rams in five games when the two teams squared off in the 1945 NFL Championship Game. With no score in the first quarter Sammy Baugh went back to pass in his own end zone. He spotted star receiver Wayne Milner at the ten but his pass smacked off of the goal post (they were on the goal line then). Under the rules in force at the time the Rams got two points for a safety. While the rule was changed prior to the next season, it was too late to help Baugh and the Redskins, who lost that title because of the two points awarded to Cleveland, 15-14.

That would be the last postseason game the Redskins would play in for the next 25 seasons. To try to end that drought, Washington hired George Allen, who had just been fired by the Los Angeles Rams, in 1971. While there were bitter feelings between the coach and his former team, it didn’t keep the two parties from getting together for what still is the biggest trade in NFL history involving just two teams. Fifteen players and draft picks exchanged hands in the 1971 draft day deal.

That season the Redskins were on the verge of breaking that quarter-century playoff drought, but they had to beat, you guessed it, the Rams in the 13th game of the 14-game slate. It did not start off well for Washington. Kermit Alexander picked off a Billy Kilmer pass and dashed down the sideline 82 yards for a 7-0 Ram lead. A 70-yard bomb from Kilmer to Roy Jefferson tied it up before the first quarter ended. It was tied at 10 in the second quarter when Kilmer hit Clifton McNeil with a 32-yard scoring pass. On the ensuing kickoff the Redskins’ control of the game turned into command of it when the Rams fumbled, the Redskins recovered, and Larry Brown bulled over from the one six plays later.

The Rams threatened to rally back into it in the second half, cutting what was a 31-10 Redskins lead to 31-24. They got no closer, though, as Speedy Duncan locked up the Redskins’ long-awaited playoff berth with a 44-yard return of an interception for a touchdown and a 38-24 Washington win.

That game had the atmosphere of a playoff game but following the 1983 season the Redskins and Rams hooked up in an actual elimination game. Washington was coming off of a bye week, the Rams had to travel to Texas Stadium to eliminate the Cowboys the previous week. The Redskins had gone 14-2 in the regular season; the Rams had snuck into the playoffs with a 9-7 mark. They had met previously, with Washington taking it to the Rams in California 42-20.

The game went precisely to form. After 16 minutes of play it was 24-0 as Art Monk had caught a touchdown pass and John Rigging had two touchdown runs. Meanwhile, a rookie defensive back named Darrell Green was flying all over the field making tackles and breaking up passes. Appropriately, Green scored the last points in the 51-7 rout, snatching a pass that had bounced off of Eric Dickerson’s hands and, in a flash, taking back 72 yards for a touchdown.

  1. Boss Hog - Oct 10, 2008 at 12:06 PM

    Yeah, with the exception of that painful loss in ’45 (all right, not so painful for me — I was negative-36 at the time), the Redskins have really owned the Rams. We’re 20-7-1 all time against them — our best mark against any of the old-time NFL franchises (we’re 26-10 vs. Detroit, which is a close second).

    Not to jump the gun, here’s one way that one of our next three cupcake games is unlike the others. While we’ve owned the Rams and Lions like almost no one else, the team we have the worst mark against in all of football is none other than the Cleveland Browns (they’re 33-9 against us). Sure, most of those losses probably came in the ’50s and ’60s, but clearly, something seeps into the water whenever we play Cleveland. I’ll be interested to see Rich’s history post for next week…if we drop a cupcake game, I’ll wager it’s against the Browns, not the Lions or Rams.

  2. Rich Tandler - Oct 10, 2008 at 12:28 PM

    To tease next week’s FF, it will be the account of a game that the Redskins lost to the Browns by two touchdowns despite the fact that four future Hall of Famers made their debuts for the Skins.

  3. Anonymous - Oct 10, 2008 at 7:56 PM

    way back in my youth, i remember a game in which the redskins jumped out in front of a great brown team that had players like jim brown, frank ryan, milt morin and gary collins.. we were up 14-0 and everything was going our way.. ended up losing that one in the end,i believe…
    might have been one of the first times bobby mitchell played against his former team- and he was terrific..

    we never could beat the browns or giants in those days.. unfortunately, it was soon to be joined by the upstart cowboys..

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