In 1971 George Allen was hired to turn around a tam that only had one winning season since 1955. Allen replaced Bill Austin who took over following the death of Vince Lombardi in 1970. Austin’s Redskins sported a 6-8 mark in 1970. Allen after a previously was the coach of the Los Angeles Rams from 1966 through 1970 but was let go after missing the playoffs the previous season, During the off season he overhauled the roster and brought in many new veterans from around the league including veteran quarterback Billy Kilmer from the New Orleans Saints. This is a look back at the best games from the 1971 season.
September 19, 1971 Busch Memorial Stadium St. Louis, MO: Washington 24 St. Louis 17: A rebuilt Washington defense forced the Cardinals into seven turnovers which proved to be devastating. Redskins safety Richie Petitbon intercepted a Jim Hart pass which setup the first Redskins score. Larry Brown fished off the drive by scoring from the one. St. Louis actually led 10-7 at the half due to a hart to Jackie Smith eight yard scoring pass in the second quarter, Cardinals kicker Jim Bakken added a 25-yard field goal for the go ahead score. In the third quarter Cardinals mistakes gave Washington the lead for good. A fumble by Cid Edwards of the Cardinals allowed Chris Hanburger to scoop it up and return it 16-yards for a touchdown. Redskins safety Brig Owens intercepted Hart again which setup another score. Billy Kilmer made the Cardinals pay when connected with tight end Jerry Smith on a 31-yard scoring pass giving the Redskins a 21-10 lead. Pete Beathard who came in for the ineffective Hart to lead the Cardinals to a score when he hit Smith on a nine yard scoring pass. Washington’s Paul Laavag recovery of a Johnny Roland fumble helped put away the game. urt Knight of Washington kicked a 25-yard field goal for the final margin. Peitibon along with Hanburger had three interceptions on the day of Cardinals quarterbacks.
October 3, 1971 Cotton Bowl Dallas,TX: Washington 20 Dallas 16: Washington continued its early season domination of their division rivals by going down to Dallas and upsetting the favored Dallas Cowboys.In the first half Washington stunned the Cowboys with the big play when Charley Harraway got through the Dallas line for a 57-yard scoring run. In the second quarter Billy Kilmer hit Roy Jefferson on a 50-yard scoring pass to help Washington to a 14-9 halftime lead. Only three Mike Clark field goals of 22, 9, 27 yards kept Dallas in the game. Two second half Curt Knight field goals of 25 and 32 yards allowed Washington to have a 20-9 leadin the fourth quarter. Dallas replaced starting quarterback Craig Morton with Roger Staubach who did drive them downfield for a late score. Calvin Hill scored from the one with 3:06 remaining to make the score closer. The Cowboys where unable to get the ball back in the final minutes as the Redskins ran the the clock out. The rugged running of Harraway and Larry Brown who combined for 192 rushing yards proved to be the difference.
October 10, 1971 RFK Stadium Washington, DC: Washington 22 Houston 13: Five field goals by Curt Knight of 15, 36,13, 17, and 39 yards to pace the Washington attack. Ron McDole of the Redskins intercepted a screen pass and rumbled for 31-yards to break open a close game. Houston’s scoring occurred when Charley Johnson hit Leroy Sledge for a five yard scoring pass. Kicker Mark Moseley added two field goals of 42 and 25 yards for the other Houston scoring. Washington intercepted three Houston passes and also recovered two fumbles to stifle the Houston attack. Jack pardee had an interception and fumble recovery and Mike Bass intercepted a Dan Pastorini pass as well. Linebacker Chris Hanburger also had a fumble recovery in the win.
December 13, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Los Angeles CA: Washington 38 Los Angeles 24: Redskins coach got to visit his old stomping grounds in this late season showdown between two teams who needed a win. The Rams got things going when Kermit Alexander intercepted a Billy Kilmer pass and ran it back 82-yards for a touchdown. Kilmer got back at the Rams when hit Roy Jefferson for the first of his three touchdown passes from 70-yards out. The teams exchanged field goals with David Ray of the Rams hitting one from 32-yards and Curt Knight making a 52-yard attempt. Washington took control when Kilmer hit Clifton McNeil for a 22 yard scoring pass and Larry Brown scored from the one for a 24-10 Washington Halftime lead. The Redskins got their biggest lead of the game when Kilmer hit Jefferson again this time from 5-yards out making the score 31-10. Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel hit tight end Bob Klein from the five making the score 31-17. In the fourth quarter Willie Ellison scored from the one to make it 31-24. However the Redskins iced the game when Speedy Duncan intercepted a Gabriel pass and returned 46-yards to ice the game. With the win Washington clinched a Wild Card berth while Rams where basically eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
Although it was a excellent season for Washington although the dream would end on Christmas Eve when they dropped a 24-20 decision in San Francisco. Between all the new faces including eight former Los Angeles Rams players trying to blend in and the loss of veteran quarterback Sonny Jurgensen who missed most of the season with a shoulder injury. It was still a remarkable season for an organization who last played a playoff game in 1945 when they lost to the Cleveland Rams for the NFL Championship 15-14.
1971 Washington Redskins John Schaefer
1971 Washington Redskins www.profootballreference.com
2013 NFL Record &Fact Book