Joe Gibbs nearly fainted. The sellout crowd at RFK Stadium nearly caused an earthquake of monumental proportions. And Darrel Green threw one arm up in the air in celebration.
Our journey in remembering the 1987 season continues this week with a look back at the greatest moment in Redskins-Vikings history: the NFC Championship Game.
Just one week after a rib injury nearly derailed Green’s Pro Bowl season, the Hall of Fame cornerback refused to let the pain hold him back from making perhaps the greatest play in Redskins history.
After holding the Vikings out of the end zone earlier in the fourth quarter on Neal Olkewicz’s touchdown saving tackle, they purple guys elected to kick an 18-yard field goal to make it a 10 all game.
On the Redskins’ next possession, the clock was milked on an eight play, 70-yard drive where Doug Williams found Gary Clark for the go-ahead touchdown.
That was all the offense the burgundy and gold needed.
The Vikings’ offense charged down the field, showing a determination that another playoff ouster in the NFC portion of the bracket would be an afterthought.
This would be their time—almost.
After stalling on the Redskins’ four-yard line, the game came down to one play. A play the Redskins would win.
As Joe Gibbs looked on from his knees, Vikings quarterback Wade Wilson dropped back quickly looked to his left and saw running back Darrin Nelson nearing the goal line.
Nelson however, was right in Green’s crosshairs.
Breaking up the play, Green watched the pigskin hit the frozen RFK turf before jumping up and celebrating the fact his Redskins were going to the Super Bowl.
He never wanted another team to take away from their season.
“This was our season to go to the Super Bowl,” Green recalled with a smile on his face. “And we didn’t want overtime. I expected the ball to go to [Pro Bowl wide receiver Anthony] Carter. I’m thinking, ‘You ride the horse that got you here.’”
That horse remained locked in the stable of dissapointment, looking on as his opponents trotted around the field celebrating like they just won the Kentucky Derby.
It wasn’t the Super Bowl of horse racing but it did lead them to Super Bowl victory No. 2.
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