Washington Redskins Forgotten Classic: Williams Nails Down the Job

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Washington Redskins Forgotten Classic: Williams Nails Down the Job
(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

This game, the 1987 regular season finale, had no significance in and of itself for Washington. The Redskins already had wrapped up the division title, and their playoff seeding was set.

The significance of this contest was that Jay Schroeder started the game and Doug Williams finished it. Based on the fact that Schroeder was ineffective and that Williams rallied the team to an overtime win, Joe Gibbs gave Williams the nod to be the starter for the playoffs.

The rest, as they say, is history, such as the 35 points the Redskins racked up in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII with Williams pulling the trigger.

You have to wonder what might have happened if Schroeder had played well, or even just OK. I don't think that the Redskins win it all with Schroeder behind center, but you never know.

From the pages of my upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle:

The Metrodome—Doug Williams replaced an ineffective Jay Schroeder at quarterback and, along with Barry Wilburn and Ricky Sanders, sparked a 27-24 overtime win over the Vikings.

Williams entered the game midway through the third quarter with the contest tied at seven. Washington's only score had come courtesy of Wilburn. The Vikings, already leading 7-0, were driving, perched at the Redskin seven.

Quarterback Wade Wilson tried to sneak a pass through double coverage, but he found the belly of Wilburn at the goal line. Wilburn headed upfield, broke through the pack, and got into the clear.

The final obstacle to his team-record 100-yard interception return was removed when Todd Bowles dispatched receiver Anthony Carter with a block around the Minnesota 40.

Williams had an instant impact, throwing a 46-yard touchdown pass to Sanders on his fourth play to put his team up 14-7. After that things cooled for the Redskins and heated up considerably for Minnesota.

Starting with the first play of the fourth quarter, the Vikings ran off 17 points in five and a half minutes of play, and the Metrodome was rocking as the home team led 24-14.

The Redskins responded quickly, driving to a field goal by Ali Haji-Shiekh to cut the lead to seven. Then, with 2:21 to play, they regained possession at their own 40. On third and one at the 49, Sanders ran a hitch-and-go and was wide open to catch Williams' pass for 51 yards, tying the game at 24.

Haji-Shiekh missed a potential game-winning 33-yard field goal attempt in the final minute and the game went into overtime.

The Vikings never saw the ball in the OT. Washington won the toss and Sanders returned the kickoff 36 yards. Sanders then caught two passes for 32 yards to key a foray down inside the Minnesota 10.

Joe Gibbs immediately called for Haji-Shiekh, who displayed the kicker's best friend—a short memory—as he ended it by drilling it through from 26 yards.

Rich Tandler's upcoming book The Redskins Chronicle is the complete history of the team. To get notified when the book goes on sale go to http://RedskinsChronicle.com.

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