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20 September 1976

Redskins Run Thomas to 31-7 Win
Leonard Shapiro, Washington Post Staff Writer


The football team George Allen spent a small fortune assembling finally asserted itself yesterday with a high-yield performance that returned the Redskins a 31-7 victory over the expansion Seattle Seahawks at RFK Stadium.

Almost all of those high-priced players Allen obtained in the offseason made a significant contribution, and there was a solid gold performance by bargain basement back Mike Thomas as well.

The little fellow with the slippery feet and the lowest salary among the Redskins' 22 starters jiggled and juked for 143 yards and a touchdown in 27 carries. It was his most productive running day as a professional, despite a pulled groin muscle that forced him to leave the field often.

With John Riggins getting 71 yards rushing and Calvin Hill contributing 59 more, the Redskins rolled up 273 yards on the ground and had 428 yards of total offense.

They capped off the game with the kind of drive every football coach loves - a 93-yard, 18-play beauty that killed almost 10 minutes in the final quarter and prevented the Seahawks from staging a comeback.

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Jake Scott, obtained in a controversial trade with the Miami Dolphins three weeks ago, picked off two passes yesterday and recovered a Seattle fumble. The latter set up Thomas' five-yard touchdown run for the Redskins' first score.

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And Riggins and Hill, the high priced free-agent big backs, gained gobs of yardage through the soft middle of a semi-inept Seattle defense that was clearly outclassed by a hard-charging Redskin offensive line. Kilmer did as he pleased yesterday. Mostly, he said, he wanted to establish his running attack while at the same time keeping the Seahawks off balance with a short passing game.

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With Dave Butz starting at left tackle and Bill Brundige moving out to right end - the defense did not allow the Seahawks inside the Washington 40 with the obvious exception of their touchdown drive. Seattle got the ball on the Redskins' 38 only because Thomas fumbled. Nine plays later, Seahawk running back Don Testerman carried over from the one for the score, four seconds into the fourth quarter.

But the Redskins killed any Seattle comeback hopes - last week the Seahawks scored 21 points in the fourth quarter against St Louis - with a yawn-inducing 93-yard drive that wasted 9 minutes 58 seconds.

The defense held the Seahawks to 11 first downs, allowed them only 205 yards total offense and did a credible job containing Seattle quarterback Jim Zorn.

If there is such a thing as a turning point in a 31-7 game, it may well have occurred on Seattle's first play on offense.

Zorn, perhaps remembering that Redskin cornerback Joe Lavender was stung badly a week ago on a similar play, sent wide receiver Sam McCullum racing upfield in a long post pattern.

The ball was perfectly thrown and McCullum had Lavender beaten by a step. But the Redskin cornerback knocked the pass out of McCullum's hands for an incomplete pass.

"We got a break on that opening play," Allen conceded. "It could have been a big play against us."

Five plays later, Seahawk running back Andrew Bolton was switching the ball from one side to the other as he cruised around left end, and the ball popped right into the grateful hands of Scott. The Redskins ran the football on eight of the nine plays in the ensuing 52-yard touchdown drive.

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For all intents and purposes, the Seahawks were grounded. Their coach, Jack Patera, a former Allen assistant, hinted his team really had no chance to begin with.

One reporter asked him to describe his offense.

"What we have offensively," he said, "is a quarterback who throws the ball well and receivers who catch it."

And what about his defense? "It's four linemen, three linebackers and four backs," he answered.


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