The Redskins turned a game to forget into a day to remember when they overcame a 24-0 deficit in a 31-30 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday.
The Kirk Cousins-led comeback was the biggest in the Redskins’ 83-year history, besting the 21-point comebacks the franchise managed on three previous occasions. Here’s a look back at those comebacks, which were orchestrated by quarterbacks Brad Johnson, Jeff Rutledge and Sonny Jurgensen.
Oct. 3, 1999: Redskins 38, Panthers 36
After falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter on three touchdown runs by Tim Biakabutuka, Washington rallied behind Johnson to give Daniel Snyder his first home win as the Redskins’ owner.
Johnson threw for 337 yards and four touchdowns, including three in Washington’s team record 28-point second quarter. The Redskins took a 28-24 lead into halftime, but Carolina retook the lead with eight minutes left on a Wesley Walls touchdown catch.
The Redskins’ eventual game-winning drive was almost doomed before it began, when Brian Mitchell appeared to fumble a punt that Carolina recovered. Norv Turner challenged the call and officials overturned it, ruling that Mitchell’s knee was down before he fumbled.
Brett Conway, who said he was “more nervous than I’d ever been in my life,” kicked the game-winning field goal with 6 seconds remaining.
Quote to remember: “These are moments you live for.” – Brad Johnson
After the comeback: The Redskins entered the bye week 3-1 and would go on to win the division with a 10-6 record. Washington beat the Lions at home in the wild card round before losing a heartbreaker at Tampa Bay.
Nov. 4, 1990: Redskins 41, Lions 38 (OT)
Coming off their second loss to the Giants in three weeks, the 4-3 Redskins looked headed to another defeat when Barry Sanders darted 45 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter. Sanders’s score gave the Lions a 35-14 lead at home.
That’s when then-Coach Joe Gibbs called upon Rutledge, a career backup who replaced an ineffective Stan Humphries on Washington’s next drive. Rutledge responded by completing 30 of 42 passes for 363 yards and a touchdown. As Post reporter Richard Justice noted, “In one afternoon, he passed for more yards than in eight of his 11 NFL seasons.”
The Redskins outscored the Lions 17-0 in the fourth quarter and tied the game on a Rutledge 12-yard quarterback draw with 18 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a gutsy call by Gibbs, given that Rutledge was slow and Washington was out of timeouts. Chip Lohmiller won the game with a 34-yard field goal more than 9 minutes into overtime. It was one of the most clutch kicks of Lohmiller’s career.
“My prayer is that this game will make us,” Gibbs said. “We’ve been kind of herky-jerky all year. Maybe this game will get us going for the long haul. There were 45 guys that played their guts out. We’ve had different teams all of a sudden make their move after a game like this.”
(Incidentally, this is one of the first Redskins games I remember. I was 7 and insisted my parents not turn off the game on the car radio on our way home from visiting my grandparents. We were home in time to watch Lohmiller’s kick on their 13″inch TV. Then I went outside and threw touchdown passes to myself with a Nerf football, pretending I was Jeff Rutledge and Art Monk.)
Quote to remember: “No one ever thought it was over. I guarantee you that.” – Don Warren
After the comeback: The Redskins finished 10-6 and qualified for the playoffs as a wild card. They beat the Eagles in a wild card game before losing at San Francisco in the divisional round.
Nov. 28, 1965: Redskins 34, Cowboys 31
Here’s the lede of Post reporter Dave Brady’s game story: “The Redskins — bless their fumbling hearts — recoiled from a 21-0 deficit and bombed, boomed and entombed the Dallas Cowboys, 34-31, yesterday at D.C. Stadium.”
The home crowd booed the Redskins, just as they did Sunday, after Washington fell behind by 21 points less than three minutes into the second quarter.
“The 50,205 in the stands who had come to cheer were bitter and booing, and raising the chant ‘We Want Shiner’ as evidence that they did not consider Jurgensen’s quarterbacking satisfactory, which is a euphemism for their actual belief,” Shirley Povich wrote.
“The fans wanted me out of there in a hurry, didn’t they?” Jurgensen said after the game. (Any footage of him telling a reporter “You like that!” afterward has been lost to history.)
Shiner was former Maryland quarterback Dick “The Rifleman” Shiner, who led the Terps to their only home win over Penn State in 1961. But Jurgensen remained in the game and redeemed himself. He passed for 411 yards and three touchdowns, including two in 2 minutes, 16 seconds of Washington’s 21-point fourth quarter.
Jurgensen drove the Redskins 80 yards in 37 seconds for the go-ahead touchdown, a five-yard pass to Angelo Coia with 1 minute, 12 seconds remaining. The Cowboys attempted a 44-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to tie the game, but it was blocked by cornerback Lon Sanders.
As Povich wrote, “The result was never in doubt after the first 59 minutes and 53 seconds of play.”
Quote to remember: “That was the greatest bit of quarterbacking I’ve ever seen.” – Redskins Coach Bill McPeak on Jurgensen
After the comeback: The Redskins lost two of their final three games to finish 6-8, out of the playoffs.