In the second quarter, Riggins took a handoff from Theismann, then pitched back to Theismann for a flea-flicker. But Giants Harry Carson, Lawrence Taylor and Gary Reasons arrived in succession. With all that weight on Theismann's right leg at a bad angle, the leg crumpled. Taylor, who played the game as hard as any defender, knew immediately that the injury was serious. He jumped up and waved for Redskins trainers and doctors to hurry onto the field.
Theismann lay on the ground in agony, suffering from a compound fracture. After a few minutes, he was taken from the field on a stretcher, with fans applauding him as he left. Before going into surgery at Arlington Hospital in Virginia, Theismann saw 10 minutes of the game's second half, and it had to amaze even him.
Theismann had started in 71 games in a row and was the Redskins' all-time leader in passing attempts (3,602), completions (2,044) and yards gained (25,206). Jay Schroeder, by contrast, had appeared in a total of just three previous NFL games. He had thrown eight passes, completing one to a Dallas Cowboy and four to his own teammates, for all of 51 net yards.
But Schroeder displayed a confidence that inspired his teammates that night, even if it would annoy them later.