After Sunday's win over Baltimore, you could hardly be blamed for saying, "that's the greatest Redskins overtime win ever." It would be hard to make a case against it, especially given that it comes at a time when the Redskins had to have it. A loss wouldn't have eliminated the Skins from the playoff race, but it would have decreased their chances of getting in.
The win is for a fact, the first December home overtime victory in franchise history (overtime for regular season games didn't enter the NFL until 1974). Here are my five contenders for the top overtime home victory in Redskins history in chronological order.
1. November 2, 1975 - Redskins 30 - Cowboys 24, RFK Stadium - Trying to keep alive a streak of three-straight trips to the playoffs, the Redskins came in to this game at 4-2, matching the Cowboys record. They were teams going in opposite age directions. Sonny Jurgensen had retired, Larry Browns legs were wearing out and the "Over the Hill Gang" defense had lost some of its fastball. Meantime, the Cowboys with 12 rookies, would make it back to the Super Bowl that season. But on this day, it was the 15-year veteran quarterback who would deliver the knockout blow. With just over five minutes left in the game, a Billy Kilmer pass was picked off by Cliff Harris and returned 27 yards for a touchdown to put Dallas up 24-17. But Kilmer responded with a great drive that ended with a seven yard touchdown pass Jerry Smith to tie it with less than two minutes left. The Cowboys had a chance to win it in regulation, but Tony Fritsch missed a 38-yard field goal. In what was their first-ever overtime game, the Redskins defense was faced with Roger Staubach leading a drive that had reached midfield. But trying to throw downfield, Staubach was hit by Chris Hanburger and the ball was intercepted by Ken Houston, who returned it to the 50, as Staubach threw a punch at Pat Fischer. The referee saw it and flagged the Heisman winner. From the Cowboys 35, Kilmer drove the Redskins to the one yard line. And to the suprise of the sellout crowd, old Whiskey Face snuck it in over George Starke for the game winner.
2. November 2, 1986 - Redskins 44 - Vikings 38, RFK Stadium - Eleven years to the day after the Kilmer heroics, Jay Schroeder had what may have been his finest game. It's likely the game never would have gotten to overtime had Redskins kicker Max Zendejas missed an incredible three extra points. Down 12 with seven minutes to play, Schroeder led a 65-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Art Monk to pull the Skins within six. Why six? Why of course, Zendejas missed his second extra point of the day. No biggie. It would take another touchdown to win the game anyway and surely Zendejas wouldn't miss a third extra point. Or would he? In fact after George Rogers scored to tie the game with a minute left, in fact Zendejas missed to send the game into overtime tied at 38. The Redskins won the toss and Schroeder, who would finish the game with 378 yards passing, took the Skins to the Minnesota 38 on four plays. Forget relying on Zendejas to win this game, the Redskins knew they had to get a touchdown to win this. They did. Schroeder threw a 15-yard pass to Gary Clark, who broke away for a touchdown. Fortunately, since it was an overtime score, Zendejas never got the chance to possibly miss a fourth extra point. Incredibly, Zendejas would last another six games before being placed on injured reserve after burning his foot on a sideline heater after missing yet another extra point in a one-point loss at Denver.
3. November 3, 1991 - Redskins 16 - Oilers 13, RFK Stadium - This was not a win that the Redskins needed, but it didn't hurt. They were 8-0 coming in, with Tony Kornheiser's Bandwagon rolling as talk of 16-0 was on the lips of many fans. But this was an off day for the offense that had to settle for a pair of Chip Lomiller field goals through three quarters. Earnest Byner had put the Redskins up 13-7 in the fourth quarter, only to see Warren Moon respond with a touchdown drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run from Lorenzo White to tie it with less than two minutes left. And after Brian Mitchell fumbled the ensuing kickoff, it looked like the end of the streak. All that was needed was a 33-yard field goal from Ian Howfield. The kid missed! Houston won the toss, but on their second overtime play, Moon was picked off by Darrell Green, setting up Lomiller's 41-yard game winner. A day later, Howfield was released and bravely faced the media in tears. It was the last time he was heard from. The Skins scored a total of 97 points the next two weeks in blowouts of Atlanta and Pittsburgh before seeing their win streak stopped at 11 with a Thanksgiving weekend loss to Dallas at home.
2. September 14, 1997 - Redskins 19 - Cardinals 13, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium - The Heath Shuler bust ship had already sailed - shipped to New Orleans before the season for draft picks. And it looked like Michael Westbrook was on his way to sailing right behind him. Shuler had been the third pick of the 1994 draft and Westbrook went fourth a year later. But injuries and discipline problem kept him from matching the potential the Redskins saw in him during his first two years. And less than a month before what would be the first game played in the brand new stadium, Westbrook had attacked an injured Stephen Davis in training camp. He was fined, but not suspended. In the second quarter of this one, Westbrook scored the only offensive touchdown of regulation, catching a five-yarder from Gus Frerotte. But Arizona scored a touchdown off a blocked Matt Turk punt and sent the game in to overtime on a 47-yard field goal from Kevin Butler with two seconds left in regulation. On their first overtime possession, Kennard Lang forced a fumble and Derek Smith recovered. Two plays later, Frerotte threw to Westbrook, who caught it at the five and dove over the goal line for the game-winner.
1. October 1, 2000 - Redskins 20 - Bucs 17, FedEx Field - The best team money could buy had only a 2-2 record heading in to this game. A home loss to Tampa would not be good. Unable to protect a 17-3 lead, the Skins allowed the Bucs to send the game in to overtime on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Sean King to Ridell Anthony and a 42-yard field goal from Martin Gramatica in the final seconds. After the teams exchanged possessions in overtime, Tampa was forced to punt from their own 15. Deion Sanders, who was brought here to be both a shutdown corner and a dangerous kick returner, hadn't really been much of either through the first four games. But in what was his only shining moment as a kick returner here, Deion fielded the punt at his own 35 and made it back to the Bucs eight yard line. The Deion of old might have scored, but it was good enough to set up Michael Husted's 20-yard game winner.