That's Not a Five, That's an "S": A Look into Donovan McNabb's Past

Jamie BrownCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2009

12 Sep 1998: A portrait of quarterback Donovan McNabb #5 of the Syracuse Orangeman as he stands on the field during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Syracuse defeated Michigan 38-26.

Before the Eagles.

Before the NFC Championship games.

Before the NFL.

McNabb was clutch.

Can you remember?

Syracuse and Virginia Tech?


McNabb was in orange before the green he wears today. He was seen as the dangerous QB of the Big East.

VT's defense should have remembered that.

22-26, Virginia Tech was in the lead. By four. The dreaded number by all of the "I wan't to make a comeback" teams. A field goal won't do, and touch downs are hard to come by these days (1998), so really if McNabb could see all of the clocks in the world at that very moment in time, they would all read "Crunch Time."

Fourth and eight, with 1:45 left in the ball game, and the Orangemen were about 60 yards away from pay-dirt.

Dan Marino had done it. John Elway, Steve Young, they've done it. McNabb?

So, fourth and eight.

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If I had been Paul Pasqualoni in this situation, I would have called a nice streak route, and a post from the other WR, looking for a short pass and a nice pick up on the ground, but then I would have remembered who my QB was.


"McNabb with the first down! And more! McNabb is finally brought down at the 15 yard line! Unbelievable!"

So he called a QB draw, and Supe-, I mean McNabb ran a whole 41 yards down field, weaving in between three defenders until eventually being pulled down at the 15. He quickly called a time out and stopped the clock at 1:35.

My word, what a thing to happen.

But, would you look at this?

On the next play McNabb threw a short pass to a cutting TE, and it fell short.

He looks tired.

"Charlie he's gassed. He just got done with this long run and he had to hustle back to the can see the body language as he gets up, he's fatigued from that run."

And he was tired after that run, McNabb gets up slowly.

Too slowly? Maybe.

"They are now in four down territory."

He gets to the line with two seconds left on the play clock and hikes the ball. Some would say in the 'Nick' of time.

"Looking. . .for the end zone. And it's caught at the two! And he's down at the one! Maurice Jackson!"

So he rolls out right, as McNabb is prone to doing, and sees No. 3 running a short post at around the 10. He's open.

Superman fires and it's caught, one tackle broken, spins and then dives for the end zone.

Only to come up short at the one yard line.

Maurice Jackson, couldn't extend that extra couple of yards.And the clock continues to run.

"Well it's not a pretty thing to say, but McNabb is throwing up."

Fatigue? Stress? Terror? I don't know, but McNabb vomited. He stayed in the game, however. Syracuse is forced to use their last time out.

"He's smiling, knowing he's on the verge of something special."

A few seconds later, the Orangemen are back on the field.

Full house backfield, and McNabb calls the play.


McNabb hands the ball to Conrad who leaps for the end zone.

And is denied.

Now the Orangemen need to hustle back to the line. The clock is running, and they have less than 50 seconds to cross the plane.

They quickly hike the ball out of the Fullhouse offense again. McNabb steps back.

"This time they're going to throw for it! Incomplete."

The pass bounces off of the hands a heavily guarded Rominskie.

Now the clock is stopped at :21. This is going to be good.

The Orangemen getback to the line of scrimmage, Fullhouse again. McNabb calls the play and begins to rollout left, using his speed.

"And he's down! Back at the 11 yard line! It was Corey Moore!"

Corey Moore breaks through the offensive line with ease and smothers McNabb for a huge loss.

This game is over.

McNabb, bruised, and with his shoulder pad visible over his bright orange jersey, runs back to the line. Paqualoni is on the sidelines, screaming to his team. They have to spike it. Their only chance.

McNabb receives the snap.

'They spike it with five seconds left."

He spikes it.


Corey Moore made the biggest play of the season for his defense, perhaps ending this prolonged last two minutes with a win for VT.

"Charlie they come out with a two tight end, one wide receiver set. You know Kevin Johnson is going to get double teamed."

McNabb sets up behind his center.

"The last play of the game."

he hikes the ball and rolls right.

Rolling right.

He sees a friendly in the corner of the end zone, across the field, one on one with a VT DB.

Superman fires.

"Looking for his tight end Rominskie!"

Rominskie gets the body position and leaps, coming down with the football.


"I don't believe it. I don't believe it."