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Flashback Friday—Arrington’s return sparks Skins’ win

Jul 3, 2008, 10:41 AM EDT

Yes, it’s only Thursday but with the Independence Day holiday and most everything coming to a standstill as far as the Skins are concerned for another couple of weeks, here’s FF a day early.

On October 21, 2001 the Redskins were 0-5 and staring 0-6 right in the face until LaVar Arrington made a play that turned around not just a game but the season as well.

From the pages of The Redskins From A to Z

FedEx Field—After three and a half quarters of football that strongly resembled the first 20 quarters of a dismal season, lightning struck twice for the Redskins in the final period as they tied the game on big plays by Lavar Arrington and Rod Gardner. Brett Conway’s 23-yard field goal beat Carolina in overtime.

“You hate to say you don’t believe it, but I really don’t believe we won,” Arrington said. “There were a lot of crazy turns and twists in that game.”

Perhaps his ability to comprehend was somewhat affected by the concussion he had suffered in the first half. He went back into the locker room, rested until he regained his senses, and then went back into the game.

“I didn’t think it would take this long, but it did,” Marty Schottenheimer said. “We are growing. I’m more delighted, frankly, for the players than myself because they’re the ones that had to endure in the circumstances that unfolded in the ballgame [today] and they wouldn’t give up.”

As mentioned, the game started out as though it would be no different from the futile experience of the first five games. The Panthers drove to a touchdown on their second possession after an exchange of punts gave them good field position at their own 47. It took them six plays to move the 53 yards and Wesley Walls caught a two-yard scoring pass from Chris Weinke to account for the score.

While the Redskin offense was utterly ineffective, the defense did step up with a pair of second-quarter interceptions by defensive linemen to snuff out Panther drives deep into Redskin territory. First, with the line of scrimmage at the eight, linebacker Antonio Pierce smashed into Weinke, forcing a fluttering pass that tackle Kenard Lang picked off. Then, with time running out in the half Carolina had the ball at the Redskin one. Out of timeouts, Weinke had to pass. Tackle Dan Wilkinson tipped the ball, however, and rookie defensive end Otis Leverette got the pick with eight seconds left.

No inspiration was drawn from the clutch defensive plays, however, and a sense that another loss was inevitable began to grow. An 83-yard drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters ended with Tim Biakabutuka’s one-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0. Washington went three and out and a 27-yard Biakabutuka run had Carolina in Washington territory at the 31. Two plays later, it was third and seven at the 28.

It wasn’t a particularly risky play that Carolina called, a little toss in the flat to Chris Hetherington. Arrington was nearby and zeroed in on the fullback as the ball came into his hands. The ball bounced out, though and, in a flash, Arrington went from tackler to pass defender, snatching the ball out of the air and taking off for the goal line. He cruised the 68 yards unchallenged and the game, perhaps the season, took on a new complexion.

Another play was needed, however, for Arrington’s to do any good and the Redskins got it in short order. The Panthers failed to get a first down and their punt rolled dead at the Washington 15. On first down, Tony Banks, who had been booed lustily for most of the game, saw that rookie receiver Rod Gardner had worked his way past the Carolina zone. The quarterback delivered the ball on target and the receiver easily coasted into the end zone to tie it up midway through the fourth quarter.

The Panthers were clearly broken and meekly went three and out. The energized Redskins would eventually score the winning field goal, but it would take them two tries to get it. First they drove smartly to the Panther 13, but Conway missed a 32-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in regulation. After winning the toss in overtime, it took the Redskins just four plays to end it.

From the Washington 14, Stephen Davis carried for two yards and then Banks threw to fullback Bryan Johnson for 32 yards to the 48. On the next play, Banks connected with Gardner again. The rookie made a diving catch at around the five, bounced up and bolted into the end zone. A wild celebration was cut off, however, when replay revealed that Gardner had been touched while he was on the ground. The festivities resumed shortly as Conway came in and kicked the game-winner from 23 yards.

  1. Allen - Jul 6, 2008 at 6:45 PM

    Does anyone know what Arrington is doing now? Is he trying to play this year?

  2. Allen - Jul 6, 2008 at 6:45 PM

    Does anyone know what Arrington is doing now? Is he trying to play this year?

  3. Rich Tandler - Jul 6, 2008 at 8:05 PM

    He owns a restaurant/bar in a development near FedEx Field among other business ventures. The motorcycle accident he had a year or so ago pretty well wiped out any chance of a football comeback.

  4. Rich Tandler - Jul 6, 2008 at 8:05 PM

    He owns a restaurant/bar in a development near FedEx Field among other business ventures. The motorcycle accident he had a year or so ago pretty well wiped out any chance of a football comeback.

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