Gibbs II, we hardly knew ye. It seems like just yesterday that the limo pulled up to Redskins Park and, amid ecstatic fans and admiring media, Joe Gibbs got out and the Redskins have been saved.
It seemed like it was just a matter of time—and not very much of it—before the collection of three Lombardi Trophies on display in front of the smiling coach and beaming owner would have at least one addition, if not more.
Today, of course, after his retirement, we know that those trophies are earned, not bestowed, not even on living legends. The Redskins didn’t earn a chance even to play for the right to go to the game where they award the hardware. They won just one playoff game in two trips to the postseason. The one win was a quite forgettable affair in Tampa Bay, one with such a horrid offensive output on the part of the Redskins that it doesn’t even make the “greatest hits” list below.
That doesn’t mean that the return of Joe Gibbs didn’t bring its share of high points along with considerable heartache. Here’s my countdown of the best games of Gibbs II.
6. September 12, 2004—Redskins 16, Bucs 10: In Gibbs’ first game back, Clinton Portis got things off to a great start with a 64-yard touchdown run on his first carry as a Redskin. Tampa Bay rallied to tie the game at 10 late in the third quarter and it took a pair of John Hall field goals for the Redskins to get Gibbs his first win in 12 years.
5. December 30, 2007—Redskins 27, Cowboys 6: The Redskins go from tragedy to triumph as they cap a four-game winning streak in the wake of the murder of Sean Taylor to claim a spot in the playoffs.
4. December 24, 2005—Redskins 35, Giants 20: The Giants had thumped the Redskins 36-0 in the Meadowlands earlier in the year and the Skins not only got revenge, they got to the doorstep of the playoffs. Santana Moss pulled in three touchdown passes, including a couple of the jaw-dropping variety, to pace the Washington attack.
3. November 5, 2006—Redskins 22, Cowboys 19: Yeah, this list is going to be Cowboy-heavy. The Redskins tied the game at 19 early in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from Mark Brunell to Chris Cooley and had a shot to win it late, but Nick Novak missed a 49-yard field goal late. After Troy Vincent blocked Mike Vanderjagt’s 35-yard potential winner, Sean Taylor picked up the ball, scrambled around, drew a facemask penalty, and returned the ball into Dallas territory as time expired. The penalty created one untimed down and Novak nailed his second chance from 47 yards.
2. January 6, 2006—Redskins 31, Eagles 20: The Redskins recorded a scrappy win in Philly to claim their first playoff spot since 1999. The Redskins trailed in the fourth quarter until Lamar Marshall made an interception to set up a 22-yard Portis touchdown scamper. Taylor returned a fumble 39 yards and flipped into the end zone to seal it for the Redskins.
1. September 19, 2005—Redskins 14, Cowboys 13: Many Redskins fans turned off their TV’s and went to bed on this Monday night well before a field goal put Dallas up 13-0 with less than six minutes left to play. Lighting struck twice for the Redskins, though, as Moss caught a pair of TD bombs from Brunell to put the Redskins ahead. Taylor separated Patrick Crayton from a pass on a key play on Dallas’ next drive and the Skins held on for the improbable win.