Emptied Playbook on 'Skins in 83

Packers-Redskins on Monday Night Football from Lambeau Field. Mmm, bring anything to mind? Tell you what it brings to this mind: Packers-Redskins on Monday Night Football from Lambeau Field on Oct. 17, 1983. (My apologies to all readers under the age of 30.)

The final score was Green Bay 48 Washington 47 and it is still the highest scoring game in the long and storied history of MNF. (I think.)

To set the stage, with Lynn Dickey, James Lofton, et al, we had a home run offense and with injuries and the USFL taking the next level of players, we had a defense that went into the game ranked last in the league.

In weeks leading up to the game, we tried to remedy that situation by turning that home run offense into singles hitters. You know, ball control - grind it out - that kind of stuff. Well that wasn't us and we weren't very good at it. Consequently while we were stretching on the dewy grass of Lambeau before the game, Bill Meyers, one of our offensive line coaches, dropped by for a visit. He tells me to hang on to your helmet because "Sneaky" (offensive coordinator Bob Schnelker) says the heck with that ball control crap. That we were throwing caution to the wind and that we were going to empty out the playbook against the Redskins, who, not so incidentally, were the defending Super Bowl Champs.

By golly, Sneaky (don't ask how he got the nickname, just use your imagination and you'll probably come close) wasn't kidding. We ran every gadget play we had and then some. And they worked! We threw in plain vanilla plays every once in a while just to keep the Skins off balance.

For instance, on one scoring drive Eddie Lee Ivery ran right and then threw a pass back to Dickey who made a nice over-the-head grab. On that same drive, Ivery threw an option pass to Paul Coffman that was good for 35 yards. Later on backup Gary Lewis ran 2 yards on a tight end reverse for a touchdown that gave us a 38-33 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Don't get me wrong, our point parade wasn't totally based on K-mart offense. Washington was too good for that. Some of it was just good old-fashioned getting after folks.

The Redskins had one defensive tackle, Dave Butz, who was heavy, thick, strong, and must have weighed 800 pounds. I mean, you looked at him with his helmet on and it was as if he had a size 10 head. Just a ponderous-looking human being. Well, prior to the game our coaches very astutely decided that we didn't have a guard who could block this Megasaurus.

We did have a right tackle, however, named Greg Koch who could duke it out with the biggest and baddest. Presto-Chango, Greg, who had never lined up at guard in his previous six years in the league, became one for one night and one night only. He took Seymour (our pet name for Butz which we found way too funny at the time), a guy who could totally destroy your inside running game not to mention collapse any pocket, and made him a non-factor. It was BIG on BIG, and Greg won that battle hands down.

At any rate, let's cut to the chase. By late in the 4th quarter, Washington had to dump its bread and butter counter-gap play to John Riggins in favor some more high octane stuff in order to keep up with the scoring pace. After completing a 35 yard bomb, Joe Theismann hit Joe Washington with a 5 yard touchdown pass that gave the Skins a 47-45 lead with 2:50 left to play.

No sweat, a 56-yard Dickey to Gerry Ellis connection and three Ivery runs later, we're lining up for a 20-yard field goal attempt with future Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud doing the kicking. Yours truly was doing the snapping with butterflies as big as bats in the belly and prayers of "Please God, don't let me screw this up" on the lips. He didn't, Jan did his thing and it's 48-47 Packers.

One problem, there were 54 seconds left on the clock.

Washington, who had scored on each of its previous seven possessions, drove from its own 27 to our 22. Mark Moseley, the reigning NFL Player of the Year, lined up for a 39-yard field goal attempt with 3 seconds remaining.

Schnelker, whose offense had just rung up 48 points and 473 yards in just 20 minutes and 55 seconds of possession time, turned away from the field. He literally couldn't bear to watch.

Clean snap, clean hold, and Moseley misses! Time expires and the Packers win 48-47. Indeed, it was a game to remember.

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