[With eight days until the start of training camp, we take a look back at quarterback Mark Brunell’s 2005 season. After losing his starting role in 2004, Brunell returned to the field in 2005 and led the Washington Redskins back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.]
In 2012, Robert Griffin III solidified one of the more fluid positions for the Washington Redskins over the past two decades—quarterback.
Now more than ever, Redskins fans are patiently awaiting No. 10’s return to the field as the magnificent 16 game sample seems like merely an appetizer to a prominent career.
Since 2000, Griffin III is the third quarterback (Patrick Ramsey and Jason Campbell are the other) the Redskins have selected in the first round of the league’s annual draft.
Although he showed glimpses of promise at times, Ramsey conceded his starting gig to veteran Mark Brunell after injuring his neck in the first week of the 2005 season. Despite his age, the three-time Pro Bowler’s play kept Ramsey on the sidelines for the remainder of the season and led the Redskins back to the playoff for the first time in six years.
In 2004, after nine years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brunell signed with the Redskins to provide returning head coach Joe Gibbs with a veteran gunslinger that had postseason experience and was battle tested. Brunell after all appeared in Jacksonville’s inaugural season back in 1995 and spilt time with Steve Beuerlein behind center.
With Gibbs, Brunell and newly acquired running back Clinton Portis in town, Redskins fans had a fresh “restart” on the outlook of the upcoming season.
Brunell, though, struggled out of the gate.
After winning only a third of the games he started and failing to connect on 18 of his last 25 passes of the season, the three-time Lombardi Trophy winning coach pulled No. 8 in favor of the younger Ramsey.
By season’s end, Ramsey had won as many games as Brunell (three) in two less starts, prompting Gibbs to go with the 2002 draft pick as the team’s starter going forward. A move he believed would jumpstart the offense in 2005.
After a neck injury sustained at the hands of the Bears defense, though, Ramsey was forced to leave the game reopening the door for a Brunell return to the huddle.
While the offense failed to cross the goaline for an official touchdown (a Chris Cooley six-yarder had been called back earlier in the game), the former University of Washington Huskie led the Redskins on three field goal drives and a victory.
Touchdowns, however, didn’t elude Brunell and Co. just eight days later in one of the greatest moments in Redskins history against none other than the Dallas Cowboys.
The two teams are not only NFC East rivals, but combine to create one of the best rivalries in the NFL. No game epitomizes their bitterness toward each other more than Week 2 of the 2005 season.
Going into the contest, the Cowboys had won the last four matchups of the series by a combined 50 points. Confidence on Dallas’ side rapidly expanded with each passing moment as halfway through the fourth quarter they had shutout the Redskins offense are were up 13-0.
That’s when Brunell and newly acquired wide receiver connected on two Hail Mary bombs to escape with an amazing 14-13 victory, snapping Dallas’ winning streak in the process.
In 15 games, Brunell amassed 3,050 yards, 23 touchdowns and Washington’s first playoff win since the 1992 season. He was also the first quarterback since the turn of the century to throw for 3,000 yards.
While Brunell’s stint with the Washington Redskins was sandwiched in-between two first round quarterbacks, the fact that he brought Redskins fans their first playoff victory in 13 years will never be forgotten.
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