There is a certain sort of news headline in the year 2018 that has long since become a cliche: “This mildly weird thing happened, and the Internet went crazy/went wild/lost its mind/ripped its brains out and turned them into flammable firework brains and launched its burning brains into the sky.”
Often, these compilations of social media posts are entertaining, but sometimes they feel overstated. “A guy had a really nice dunk, and the Internet went wild.” “Some pop culture person did some quirky pop culture thing, and the Internet couldn’t contain itself.” “A trendy young politician cursed about the olds in a humorous manner, and the Internet imploded.”
But this one isn’t overstated. This one was genuinely, sincerely, disturbingly crazy. The Redskins lost their second starting quarterback in three weeks. They thus were forced to turn to the quarterback most closely associated with Internet humor, Mark Sanchez, whose most memorable career highlight involves him running into a large set of buttocks and then fumbling.
Sanchez hadn’t thrown an NFL pass in well more than a year. He hadn’t been an NFL starter since November of 2015. He hadn’t been part of the Redskins for even two weeks. Like, two weeks ago he might have been on the Internet, going nuts.
And so the Internet — nay, the world; nay, the entire known universe — expected imminent disaster when he entered Monday night’s game. Hilarious disaster. There would be so many jokes. Sanchez, right? Haha. Ha.
Then, on his first snap as a member of the Redskins, he handed the ball at his own 10-yard line to Adrian Peterson, a man who failed to top 70 rushing yards in any of his last four games, a man who failed to average more than 3.6 yards per carry in any of his last four games, a man whose best days, like Sanchez’s, came a long, long, long, long, long time ago.
Peterson, in case you missed it, ran 90 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest touchdown run in Redskins history. It was the longest touchdown run of Peterson’s career. It moved the 33-year-old into a tie with Jim Brown for fifth on the NFL’s all-time rushing touchdowns list. It also gave Washington an early lead. The Redskins, to that point, had scored on every single snap of Mark Sanchez’s tenure. And the Internet, I’m here to tell you, went nuts.
(This was before reports emerged that the hardworking Colt McCoy, after finally getting another chance as a starter, had broken his leg, news that cast a pall over some of the merriment.)