As the Redskins prepared to run out of the tunnel and onto the field Sunday afternoon, Tyler Jones — sitting in the front row, Seat Number 1, directly next to the tunnel — shouted out a request to Robert Griffin III.
“Robert, I want one right here!” the 22-year old lifelong Skins fan shouted, requesting a touchdown in her little corner of the end zone.
“He just kind of smiled,” the Southern Maryland native recalled on Monday.
Then came the game. All the scoring was taking place in the opposite end zone; 9 Minnesota points in the first quarter, 17 Redskins points in the second quarter, RGIII’s touchdown run in the third quarter, the two Vikings touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
And then, suddenly, there was Griffin, streaking down the sidelines with the game on the line, completing one of the most memorable Redskins plays in decades, and heading straight toward Jones, her dad, her step-mom, her sister and her sister’s fiancee.
“We all just kind of looked up, and he was running right towards us,” Jones told me on Monday. “It was like we were looking him dead in the eye. We all just leaned over that wall, like c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon.”
What happened next? RGIII hopped into the stands — the Landover Leap, the FedEx Flop, whatever you want to call it. He landed in the lap of Jones’s step-mom, Phyllis Jones, whose face was thus obscured in the dozens of photos that documented the incident.
Jones and her sister, 27-year old Lauren Meunier of Annapolis, clutched the quarterback and screamed. Their dad, Aubrey Jones, attempted to prop up their step-mom from underneath Griffin. And the quarterback just sat there and sat there and sat there, smiling but not saying a word.
“I didn’t think he was ever gonna get down,” Jones said. “He didn’t even say anything. Nothing. He was just kind of sitting up there.”
Finally the quarterback left, and Brandon Banks pounded on his head, and the game continued. Jones looked down at her phone, and the screen was already filled up with tweets and texts from friends who had seen her become a tiny part of Redskins history.
“We just couldn’t believe it, we really couldn’t believe it,” she said. “When he left, I think we all just kind of jumped up and down. I gave my dad a huge hug. My hands were just shaking — my dad thought I was going to faint.”
And of course, their 15 minutes started immediately. The family was featured on the front page of The Post, the Washington Times and the Examiner on Monday. Their photo was also featured on AOL, on the Redskins’ Facebook page, on Redskins.com, on the front of CSNWashington.com, and who knows where else. Phyllis Jones was interviewed by Fox 5. Tyler got an interview request from WUSA 9. She bought 20 newspapers, and probably isn’t done yet. Everyone made fun of Lauren, whose mouth was locked wide open in shock — “It looked like she was trying to eat him or something,” Tyler joked. “We always make fun of her for having a big mouth.”
Tyler has been to Redskins car shows and Welcome Home Luncheons and countless games, but she already is willing to put a label on Sunday’s madness.
“Nothing would ever compare,” she told me. “We said that last night. Nothing will compare to that ever. Ever.”
Oh, and Ryan Kerrigan’s Landover Leap a week ago? That came in the opposite end zone.
“I was pretty upset,” Tyler joked. “He’s one of my favorites. But I think we got that beat.”
(Eternal thanks to research assistant @recordsANDradio)