Redskins Stay Alive; Cardinals Fire Hanifan

Washington Post

If the Washington Redskins don't make the playoffs, they will remember their final game of 1985 as the day George Rogers ran wild.

Despite fumbling on the first play of the game Saturday, Rogers gained 206 yards, the most ever by a Redskin running back, to lead Washington to a 27-16 victory over St. Louis before 28,090 spectators at Busch Stadium.

It was also a day that Cardinal Coach Jim Hanifan would just as soon forget.

After the game, Cardinal owner William V. Bidwill fired Hanifan and the team's entire coaching staff. The Cardinals, picked by many to win the NFC East this season, finished 5-11 after a 3-1 start.

"I made the decision in the best interest of the team," Bidwill said. "Jim Hanifan is a fine man, a good football coach and a good friend. I wish Jim and his staff well in their future endeavors."

In six seasons with St. Louis, Hanifan's teams compiled a 39-49-1 record. They made the playoffs once in that span, in the 1982 strike-shortened season.

"Despite the extreme disappointment of this season, I'm leaving with a lot of good memories," Hanifan said. "Bill Bidwill has always been extremely fair to me as well as to the entire organization."

The victory gave the Redskins a 10-6 record and a chance to make the playoffs as a wild-card team--if Dallas can beat the 49ers today at San Francisco.

The other playoff opportunity for the Redskins vanished Saturday when the New York Giants beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 28-10, to secure one NFC wild-card spot.

The Redskins or the 49ers will get the other.

Rogers' rushing total was the highest for a running back in the NFL this season. The Redskin record was 195 yards by Mike Thomas against the Cardinals in 1976.

For Rogers, it was the third 1,000-yard season of his five-year career, his 20th 100-yard day and his fourth 100-yard game as a Redskin.

Despite a poor start that included Rogers' fumble deep in Washington territory and a missed 40-yard field goal by Mark Moseley, the Redskins managed a late first-half surge to lead at halftime, 13-9.

Apparently uninspired by the intense cold and the Steelers' effort against the Giants earlier in the day, the Redskins made several mistakes to fall behind, 9-0, with 14 minutes gone.

The first was a familiar sight: Rogers fumbling. On the Redskins' first play from scrimmage, at the Washington 26, Rogers kept churning in a horde of defenders, was hit by defensive end Al Baker and fumbled at the 28. Safety Leonard Smith recovered. It was Rogers' ninth fumble this season and the sixth he has lost.

The Cardinals gained just three yards before Novo Bojovic kicked a 42-yard field goal with 1:52 gone in the game.

The Redskins' misery continued on the next drive. Rogers immediately broke free for a 26-yard gain into St. Louis territory at the 48, and the Redskins continued to the 23, when two consecutive incompletions by Jay Schroeder led to Moseley's 40-yard field-goal attempt.

Moseley, who had missed 5 of his last 10 kicks coming into this game, hit it wide right, and the Redskins were left with nothing.

After an exchange of punts, the Cardinals scored their touchdown, an eight-yard reception by wide receiver Roy Green, who bounced off cornerback Darrell Green and landed in the end zone in the arms of linebacker Neal Olkewicz.

The drive started on the St. Louis 17. The Cardinals' Stump Mitchell went up the middle for 20 yards on a draw. After a 15-yard catch by Roy Green to the Washington 48, Mitchell again received the call on a run to the left.

Redskin defensive end Dexter Manley, who earlier had been called for a personal foul while pushing and shoving with center Randy Clark, had this play figured out. He wrapped his left arm around Mitchell in the backfield, but Mitchell spun around, right out of Manley's grasp, and ran toward the right, finally tackled 40 yards later by defensive end Charles Mann.

On first down at the eight, Neil Lomax found Roy Green alone inside the five, and Green turned with the ball and dived into the end zone for St. Louis' 9-0 lead.

The snap and hold on the extra point were bad, and Bojovic's kick was a line drive into the Washington line.

Washington's next drive was unique in that it featured a new wingback--Darrell Green. After Barry Wilburn recovered an onside kick at the St. Louis 43, Green took a handoff from Schroeder on a reverse and gained six yards before coming out of the game.

Rogers gained six to the 31, but three consecutive incompletions again ushered in Moseley, this time for a 48-yard attempt.

He made it, and Washington cut the margin to 9-3 with 14:39 left in the first half.

It was Bojovic's turn to miss a field goal on the next drive, a 39-yarder that bounced off the left upright.

The Redskin offense could do nothing on the next possession (Schroeder was sacked twice for a loss of 18 yards), but the Washington defense came to the rescue moments later.

As Lomax scrambled, looking for a receiver on third-and-12, linebacker Monte Coleman tackled him from behind, forcing him to drop the ball. Defensive tackle Dave Butz landed on the ball at the 38, and the Redskins were in business.

Rogers gained 11 yards on two carries before Schroeder fired a 27-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Gary Clark, who had beaten cornerback Wayne Smith on the play.

Moseley's extra point gave Washington the lead, 10-9, with 2:38 remaining.

There still was time for two more Moseley field-goal attempts, one good, one bad. Starting from their 18 with 59 seconds to play, the Redskins drove to the 13, where, with six seconds left, Moseley kicked a 30-yard field goal.

During the drive, tight end Clint Didier caught a 29-yard pass to the St. Louis 25, his longest reception of the season.

Steve Cox then hit an onside kick that dribbled past several Cardinal defenders and was picked up by Greg Williams at the St. Louis 22 with three seconds left.

Moseley's 39-yard kick, however, drifted wide right, and the first half was over.

In the third quarter, Rogers rushed for his 1,000th yard of the season, and the Redskins added a touchdown to increase their lead to 20-9 as the evening grew colder and the crowd sparser.

For the first seven or eight minutes of the second half, there were a lot of false moves that led to a lot of punts.

Finally, the Redskins warmed to their task, driving 61 yards in 11 plays and almost six minutes for Rogers' one-yard plunge behind the left side of the offensive line.

Rogers, who came into the game with 887 yards, hit the 1,000 mark on a three-yard run for a first down to the St. Louis 37 in that scoring drive.

After two receptions by Clark, it became Rogers' show, all the way to the end zone with two minutes remaining.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins again were on the march, and Moseley again missed a field goal. His 32-yard attempt was ruled wide left with 9:23 remaining in the game.

Keith Griffin added a one-yard touchdown with 2:11 remaining to give the Redskins' their final points.

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