1973 Replay: Washington Survives San Diego Scare 40-36


San Diego Chargers 36 at Washington Redskins 40

billy_kilmer_1973_09_01

Billy Kilmer’s fourth and final touchdown pass helped the Redskins overcome a fourth quarter deficit to the upstart Chargers, allowing Washington to escape with wild 40-36 victory. The day started off well enough for Washington. They marched down the field on their opening drive before Kilmer capped it with a 34 yard strike to Roy Jefferson, but the the extra point snap was bobbled. The quirky play would be a foreshadowing of the day’s events. The Chargers rookie passer, Dan Fouts, answered very quickly. His first ever NFL pass went 79 yards and led to a Jerry LeVias touchdown and a surprise 7-6 lead. After a Redskin field goal, the Chargers were forced to punt, and it looked as if the Redskins could start creating separation. However, Coy Bacon tackled Kilmer in the end zone, tying the game at 9. Again, the Redskins shot out in front, with Kilmer hitting Charlie Taylor from 13 yards out. Fouts responded by tossing a 43 yard touchdown to Willie McGee.

“Everything we did, they had an answer for,” Washington’s George Allen told reporters.

The trend continued till halftime. The shockingly pass-happy Redskins scored again off Kilmer’s arm only to see the Chargers run a trick play and score from 65 yards out on a LeVias option to Gary Garrison. Redskins 18 yard field goal from Curt Knight as time expired gave Washington a 26-22 halftime lead.

The Chargers had to wait through the intermission to answer this time, but did they ever. Ron Smith caught the second half kickoff from his own five and raced 95 yards for a touchdown giving the Chargers their first lead. Kilmer’s lone mistake, a costly interception at the Washington 30, set up another Charger score. Cid Edwards’ 5 yard run gave the Chargers a 36-26 with just a few minutes left in the third. The upset was in the hand, but the Chargers suddenly crashed back down to Earth.

“We have a lot of new players on this team, and it’s going to take time to meld it altogether,” an upbeat Harland Svare said after the game. “You hate to see one slip away, but we will learn from that. We did a lot of good things out there today.”

The Chargers suffered from a lack of consistency. Their three offensive touchdowns resulted in 58% of their yardage. Needing to milk the clock, the Chargers managed a paltry 58 yards on just 20 carries for the afternoon.

Costly turnovers didn’t help. The first was the result of an overthrown screen pass from Fouts. Dave Robinson snagged it and ran 14 yards for a touchdown cutting the San Diego lead to 3. Just three plays later, Cid Edwards fumble ended a promising San Diego drive. This time, the Redskins couldn’t capitalize and were forced to punt. The Redskins dominated play, running 82 plays to the Chargers’ 49, but seven Washington drives ended in punts. After scoring 26 first half points, Washington managed just seven in the first 25 minutes of the second half.

But Kilmer wasn’t done. He lead a late drive using his arm to save the drive on three third down attempts before finally hitting Charlie Taylor again, this time from 21 yards out with just over five minutes left.

The Chargers twice had a chance to take the lead but both drives were stymied at midfield. In the end, it was Kilmer, the day’s hero, kneeling to seal the win.

Stats:

Passing:

WASH: Kilmer 22-34 279 4-1 SD: Fouts 11-29 266 2-3.

Rushing

WASH: Brown 25-65; Harroway 10-33; Thomas 2-9; Kilmer 1-(-1). SD: Edwards 12-41-1; Garrett 8-17.

Receiving:

WASH: Jefferson 7-126-1; Taylor 4-57-2; Brown 5-43; Harroway 2-6; Hancock 1-14; Reed 1-14; Grant 1-12; Smith 1-7. SD: Garrison 4-111-1; LeVias 2-87-1; Garrett 2-23; McGee 1-43-1; Holmes 1-4; Norman 1-4; Holliday 1-(-6).

Defense:

WASH: Interceptions: Robinson (TD), Bass, Fischer. Sacks: Sistrunk. Fumble Recoveries: Hanburgers, McLinton

SD: Interceptions: Smith. Sacks: Bacon.

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