Six unsung plays from Washington Redskins history
By Jonathan Eig
CHARLIE WATERS, 12-31-72
New Year’s Eve, and the Redskins were destined for the Super Bowl. If they could just get by the hated Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins had the lead, 10-3, late into the third quarter. But it was way too close for comfort.
Some sloppy play pinned the Redskins deep in their own territory and they were forced to punt. Mike Bragg got off a good one, and Cowboys cornerback Charlie Waters fielded it at his own 44. Then, three things happened in an instant that set up the Redskin for victory. Waters went backwards, losing five yards. A penalty on Dallas pushed them back even farther. And worst of all for the Cowboys, Waters broke his arm on the return.
If you go back that far, you probably remember what happened next. The Redskins got the ball back and at the start of the fourth quarter, Billy Kilmer completed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Charley Taylor. It set up the second-greatest quarter in Redskins’ history, and by the end, the Redskins were headed to their first Super Bowl with a 26-3 dismantling of Dallas as their springboard.
There is a famous photo of the Taylor catch, and helpless Cowboys cornerback Mark Washington stumbling in his wake. Mark Washington should not have been in the game. Waters, who himself had taken over the starting job from the aging Herb Adderley during the season, may not have any more luck stopping Taylor. We will never know. The broken arm sidelined him, and left Washington (Mark, not the Redskins) alone against one of the NFL’s best. If not for that disaster of a punt return, who knows how it all would have turned out.