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Roller coaster thriller vs. Raiders 10.02.83

Jul 13, 2009, 5:00 AM EST

This wasn’t the biggest comeback in terms of sheer points, but it may well be the biggest from the point of view of points per minute. I’ve never heard a half-empty stadium so loud (yes, about half of the crowd were of little faith).

In retrospect, though, it may have been better if they Skins had dropped this one. They were somewhat overconfident when they played the Raiders in the one that really counted, that Black Sunday game that’s a haze to many of us. Had the Radiers held on to win this one the Redskins might not have been quite so full of themselves when they went to Tampa.

Regardless, it was a hell of a game. From the pages of The Redskins Chronicle (now on sale).

RFK Stadium 10.02.83—This game had more ups and downs, twists and turns than the newest theme park roller coasters.

The Redskins dominated the early going. Interceptions by Curtis Jordan and Mel Kaufman set up scores to give Washington a 10-0 lead. The Raiders responded with the ultimate display of the vertical offense as Jim Plunkett and Cliff Branch hooked up on a 99-yard bomb.

After that quick lapse, the Redskins moved to reassert their control. A Mark Moseley field goal and five-yard touchdown pass from Joe Theismann to Joe Washington made it 20-7 in the third quarter. It appeared that the home team had some breathing room.

The breathing turned to gasping when Plunkett found Calvin Muhammad for touchdown passes of 25 and 22 yards, giving the Raiders the lead. When Greg Pruitt took a punt back 97 yards for a touchdown that gave the Raiders a 35-20 lead with just over seven and a half minutes left in the game, it was positively suffocating.

In fact, although most of them will probably deny it, nearly half of the crowd of 54,016 headed for the exits after that punt return. What ensued was one for the history books, as Theismann would say afterwards. Or, one for the storybooks.

It all got started on the first play after the kickoff when Washington took a screen pass and rocketed 67 yards down the right sideline. Three plays later, Theismann hit Charlie Brown with an 11-yard touchdown pass to draw the Skins within eight. Then Jeff Hayes kicked off and lined a low, hard one off the foot of a Raider. Greg Williams recovered, and the Skins drew within five after a Mark Moseley field goal with 4:28 remaining.

The Raiders managed to kill some clock, but could not get a first down as Plunkett threw to Todd Christensen for nine yards on third and eleven. Washington started at its own 31 with a minute and fifty seconds left. Plenty of time. Theismann completed three straight passes to Brown for nine, 26 and 28 yards, to the Raiders’ six with 43 seconds left. On second down from there, Joe Washington snuck through the line, slid to the right and snared Theismann’s pass for the winning touchdown. The Redskins won 37-35. The fans in the half full stands exploded in cheers, making more than enough noise to make up for those of little faith who had already departed.

  1. Kirby - Jul 13, 2009 at 3:00 PM

    You are so right that it'd have been better to lose this game. The Skins were so cocky going in to SB XVIII and their attitude would've been different had they lost to the Raiders during the season. That SB still ranks as one of the lowest days in Redskins history. It was the first time I ever turned off a Skins game before it was over (after Marcus Allen's 70-yard TD run on a busted play). I was so depressed and it's still a kick in the groin after all these years!

    Thanks, Rich, for dredging up such awful memories! ;-)

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