Every so often here at Redskins Park, someone opens a box from storage or a drawer that’s somehow been ignored for years, and finds something completely awesome. Here, Brian Tinsman looks at one of those somethings. I was mainly entertained by the photographer’s fascination with the pigeon in this photo, but Tinsman has much more of the story of this day.
Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you that one of the most disappointing scenarios in all of sports is to tie. Sure, nobody would rather lose, but the point of any competition is to win. Best described after a 1954 tie against Duke, Navy’s football coach Eddie Erdelatz said that tying was “like kissing your sister.”
Ties in the NFL have become incredibly rare thanks to sudden-death overtime, but that was not always the case. The Redskins have 27 ties in franchise history, with the last one coming against the Giants in 1997. The heyday for sister-kissing was the 1960s, and today we look back at a particularly frustrating tie against the Eagles on November 9, 1969.
After a 17-41 lopsided loss to the Baltimore Colts in Week 7, the Redskins were 4-2-1 and needed to bounce back against the Eagles at home. Recovering from a slow start to their season, the Eagles were gathering momentum with back-to-back wins over the Saints and Giants before coming to town.
Tarps were lifted off the damp field before the 1:15 p.m. kickoff, as a weekend of light rain gave way to overcast skies. The temperature hovered at a brisk 50 degrees as 50,502 Redskins faithful packed into RFK Stadium to watch the Capitol Division match-up.
The game featured two elite passers with Washington’s Sonny Jurgensen squaring off against the man he was once traded for, Philadelphia’s Norm Snead. Dave Brady of the Washington Post wrote about the field conditions in his article “Redskins, Eagles Clash Today At RFK,” before the game:
A slow turf has a tendency to equalize teams by curbing breakaway scores while the ball has a tendency to get heavy with moisture and the receivers’ shoes become cumbersome with caked turf.
The weather permitting, today’s game should be decided in the air.
The game also featured great performances by future Redskins Hall of Famers. Jurgensen was 22-for-32 for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Charley Taylor had 85 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Huff had a late interception returned 18 yards for a touchdown on defense.
With 11 minutes to go in the game, the Redskins were comfortably ahead, 28-14, and poised to keep pace with the division-leading Cowboys. But after a few controversial calls and two quick scores, the Redskins and Eagles were tied 28-28 as time expired.
After the game, Lombardi sounded off to the media about his team’s soft defensive effort. William Gildea’s Washington Post article, “Costly Penalty Leaves Redskins Speechless, Eagles Express Joy,” the next day, had the quote from Lombardi:
We had no defense today, or any day I guess. That’s our problem. After last week, Little Sister of the Poor could have run on us.
Two days later, on November 11, Brady wrote a recap, “Jurgensen Draws Lombardi Praise,” with a quote from the coach on his team’s 4-3-1 start:
My head is bloody, but unbowed. I knew what I was getting into when I came here.
You don’t see many responses like that in today’s press conferences. In that same article, he went on to praise his quarterback’s efforts, who had completed 68 percent of his passes despite having minimal pass protection:
Sonny Jurgensen is a great quarterback. He hangs in there under adverse conditions. He may be the best this league has ever seen. He is the best I have ever seen. He’s all man.
Although Lombardi would only coach for one season in Washington before his death in 1970, he shared an off-handed prophecy with the media that day, predicting:
Larry Brown and Charley Harraway are going to be good running backs one day.
Brown was a rookie in 1969, and would become one of the best backs in the league in the early 1970s. He would amass 8,360 yards from scrimmage and 55 touchdowns for the Redskins. Harraway was more of a fullback, but still compiled 4,323 all-purpose yards and 27 touchdowns over his NFL career.
Maybe this Lombardi guy knew something about football.
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