Redskins usher out RFK, Cowboys, 37-10 Washington stars return, Dallas' rest in D.C. farewell

December 23, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins saved some face yesterday, pounding a less-than-enthused Dallas Cowboys team into submission, 37-10, on an emotional afternoon that featured 56,454 fans saying goodbye to RFK Stadium after 36 seasons.

Some charged on to the field during the game, others waited until it was over and went past a ring of policemen to tear up the famous RFK grass for souvenirs.

They all witnessed a memorable halftime ceremony that honored many of the great Redskins players of yesteryear, with Sonny Jurgensen and John Riggins receiving thunderous ovations when they trotted on to the field.

The entire scenario even left Washington coach Norv Turner near tears as he conducted his post-game news conference.

"As we came out in warm-ups, something hit me," said Turner, whose team will play in a new stadium in Prince George's County next season. "We've been on the road four of the last five weeks and we haven't been very successful obviously. As I walked around the stadium and looked at all the former great players here, I realized what it means to be home and that it was going to be a really special day."

But no former or current player was more caught up in the afternoon than Washington cornerback Darrell Green, who has played all 14 of his seasons with the Redskins.

Green, 36, a five-time Pro Bowl pick, has built a big enough legacy to be introduced with the old-timers yesterday.

"You might have to ride all the way home with me before you could get an idea of what this day has meant to me," said Green. "It was just unbelievable to be out there with Sonny, Sam [Huff], the Hogs and Pat Fischer and to know that I still had a team of mine back in the locker toom. With the exception of the Super Bowl, it doesn't get any better than this."

But just how much face did the Redskins (9-7) save on the final day of a season in which they had been guilty of one of the biggest collapses in NFL history after a 7-1 start and were playing against a Cowboys team (10-6) that already had wrapped up the NFC East?

Taking more luster away from the victory was the fact that neither Troy Aikman nor Emmitt Smith played and 11 of 22 Dallas starters were out of the game by the end of the third quarter.

However, Redskins running back Brian Mitchell said, "I don't think it would have mattered who played today for Dallas, we were ready to play."

Mitchell was one of three Washington players who flirted with the record books yesterday and quarterback Gus Frerotte threw for a career-high 346 yards.

Mitchell had 118 combined net yards yesterday to surpass Atlanta's Eric Metcalf and raise his total to 2,001, which places him atop the NFL for a third straight season.

If the lead holds up tonight, Mitchell would join Jim Brown (1958-61) and Gale Sayers (1965-67) as the only players to lead the league three consecutive years. Mitchell has 1,516 return yards, 286 receiving and 199 rushing.

Running back Terry Allen scored three touchdowns and set a Redskins' single-season rushing record with 1,353 yards, surpassing the 1,347 of Riggins in 1983.

And Henry Ellard moved into third place all-time in NFL receiving yards with seven catches for 155 yards, giving him 13,177 to pass Steve Largent's 13,089.

Ellard also reached 1,000 yards receiving for the seventh time in his career and joined James Lofton as the only two NFL receivers 35 or older ever to rack up 1,000 yards receiving in a season.

Pub Date: 12/23/96

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