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Remembering The 40th Anniversary Season

Posted Jun 11, 2012

With the Redskins' 80th Anniversary campaign underway, it's an opportunity to look back at other milestone years. Next is 1972, the team's 40th season.

With the Redskins' 80th Anniversary campaign nearly halfway complete, it's time to admire the midway point of Redskins history.  Today, a look at the team's 40th Anniversary season.

The year was 1972, and the Redskins' roster was defined by its maturity.  In his second year as head coach, George Allen had put together a group of talented, albeit grizzled veterans, affectionately called the “Over-the-Hill Gang.”

One year prior, the Redskins had finished 9-4-1, the most wins since 1942, and the first playoff berth in 26 years.  In Allen’s sophomore season, the window of opportunity was closing and the team was hungry.

It was an anniversary season for the franchise, and the beginning of a football renaissance in Washington.  The 1972 season would prove to be the best under Allen, and set the stage for a new era of competitive football in the Nation’s Capital.

Here is a short list of highlights from the 1972 season, which would end in the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history:

George Allen: "The Future Is Now."

Preferring veteran players to rookies, Allen consistently traded away draft picks for aging stars.

During his tenure in Washington, the team never selected in the first round, and never higher than 38th overall. Of 114 possible draft picks, the team made only 69 selections.

The 1972 draft was classic Allen, as the Redskins made only 10 picks in 17 rounds, and not picking until the eighth round (203rd overall).

His strategy may have been unconventional, but his results were undeniable.  In his first two offseasons, Allen's trades netted eight of his former Rams from Los Angeles and 19 players total, at the price of seven players and 24 draft picks.

Of those players, 11 were 30 years or older, giving Allen a unit that he could trust with a small window of opportunity.  Allen's motto to his players and the press was that the future was now, and he intended to pay any price to win.

Oct. 29, 1972: Sonny Jurgensen goes down, Billy Kilmer is the one.

Between 1971 and 1974, the Redskins had a bona fide quarterback competition without the controversy. 

Sonny Jurgensen had been in Washington since he was traded from the Eagles in 1964, and was known for his ability to gamble on a play and come up big.

Billy Kilmer was also added via trade under coach Allen, and his conservative approach matched Allen's defense-first style. Despite their difference in style and conflicting interests, the two supported one another and remain close friends.

Kilmer won the battle out of training camp, but Jurgensen provided an early-season spark that got the Redskins on a roll. 

Against the Giants in Week 7, Jurgensen tore his Achilles tendon and Kilmer was the starter for the remainder of the season.

Jan. 14, 1973: Redskins face Dolphins in first ever Super Bowl appearance.

With 11 wins in 1972, the Redskins had eclipsed the previous high for franchise wins (10), set in their championship season of 1942.

This was the Redskins second-consecutive playoff appearance, and the team steam-rolled the Packers and Cowboys in the divisional and championship rounds by a combined score of 42-6.

Going into Super Bowl VII, the Redskins were the underdogs to the 14-0 Miami Dolphins.  The Redskins had multiple opportunities to win the game, but simply came up short.

Behind a fierce "No Name Defense," the Dolphins finished their historic run at perfection, beating the Redskins 14-7.

To this day, the '72 Dolphins are the only team to finish an unblemished NFL season, leaving the '72 Redskins as their final victims.

It would not be until the 1982 season and Super Bowl XVII when the Redskins could finally avenge this super defeat.

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