Incredible? Yes. Fantastic? Indeed. Unbelievable? Nope. You'd better believe it by now.
For the sixth time this season, the Chicago Bears yesterday found themselves struggling furiously down to the wire with the outcome very much in doubt.
George Allen's Washington Redskins, and the story of how they won it will long be retold among Bear fans.
They won it with a 40-yard burst over the middle by Cyril Pinder, who was washed out of Illinois in the slush fund scandal. Straight as a rocket, Pinder streaked through the center of the Redskin defense to a fourth-quarter touchdown, the Bears' longest run from scrimmage this season.
They won it with Bobby Douglass' scrambling pass for the ensuing extra point to, of all people, Dick Butkus after a high snap from center made a conversion kick by Mac Percival out of the question.
And they won it by sneering at the master rifleman, Sonny Jurgensen, who relieved Bill Kilmer at quarterback for the Redskins in a final desperate effort to salvage victory and stood by helplessly as Curt Knight, who had kicked five previous field goals, was wide to the left on a 46-yarder which would have swung it around for Washington.
Butkus, blood streaming from a gash above his left eye, lined up in the backfield along with fellow linebacker Doug Buffone to block for Percival's extra point attempt with the score tied at 15 following Pinder's spectacular caper.
When center Gene Hamlin's snap to Douglass, the holder for Percival, forced Bobby to leap for the ball, Butkus lumbered into the end zone, frantically waving at Douglass.
The Bear quarterback scrambled to his left, carefully evaluated the situation, then heaved the ball over Willie Holman to Butkus, who made an over-the-shoulder catch and fell to the ground.
Still lying on the AstroTurf, Butkus elatedly hurled the pigskin into the air and scrambled to his feet to challenge an official who had dropped a yellow penalty handkerchief.
"I wanted to make damned sure he knew I had reported in," explained Dick, who wears a linebacker number and thus must check in with an official, along with Buffone, whenever he comes into the backfield as a blocker for extra points.
With Butkus hovering over him, the official quickly retrieved his handkerchief and signaled the successful conversion.
Butkus, who had gone to the sideline bleeding after blocking on a punt return two plays before Pinder's touchdown and was worked over furiously by two doctors and a trainer on the sideline, said he "just snucked into the end zone and started waving" when Hamlin's snap went awry.
"It was too late to go back and block for Bobby," said the star linebacker. "I did the only thing possible. I didn't know how deep I was in the end zone. I just turned around and waved, hoping Bobby would see me."
Percival, whose three field goals had kept the Bears in the ball game, said that when he saw Douglass leap for Hamlin's center snap, he turned to the Bear quarterback and yelled, "You're on your own."
More than 11 minutes remained when Butkus cradled Douglass' pass in the end zone, and they were 11 tense moments for the Bears. Washington had the ball for three different series as Jurgensen, making his first appearance of the year, relieved Kilmer.
Sonny got the Redskins to the Chicago 38-yard line with 16 seconds to go after passing 14 yards to Clifton McNeil and 7 yards to Tommy Mason. Then Knight's 46-yard attempt, which appeared perfect when it left his toe, was swept off to the left by the friendly Lake Michigan breeze.
The total of eight field goals tied the National Football League record, and the 11 attempted field goals [Percival missed twice prior to Knight's late failure] also tied a league standard.
The victory, the Bears' sixth in nine outings, moved them into second place in the rough-and-tumble Central Division. They now have won last-minute thrillers from Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Detroit, Dallas and Washington. The only time they have failed to work their late inning magic was against Green Bay last week.
bears 16, redskins 15