This wasn’t nominated for one of the Redskins’ most memorable plays. But it certainly has to be -- and was in fact -- in any discussion on plays that stand out in franchise history. It was gruesome and ended the career of a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Lawrence Taylor sacking Joe Theismann, snapping his leg in a Monday Night Football game.
It was, however, nominated as one of the New York Giants’ most memorable plays as Dan Graziano wrote about here.
And here’s some of what Graziano wrote:
“It was early in the second quarter with the game tied, and the Redskins called a flea flicker. Theismann handed the ball to running back John Riggins, who ran up toward the line before turning and flipping the ball back to Theismann. The Giants were not fooled. Harry Carson got there first, but Theismann wriggled away from him only to find Taylor waiting. Taylor brought him down, Gary Reasons jumped on the pile, everyone nearby heard a loud "crack" and, suddenly, Taylor was up and waving to the Redskins sideline for someone to come in and help Theismann.”
Theismann had struggled that season. Through 10 games he was the 13th-rated passer in the NFC (out of 14), but with inexperienced Jay Schroeder behind him, the Redskins had few options. But after Theismann’s injury, coach Joe Gibbs had no choice but to insert Schroeder. And Schroeder led a 23-21 victory.
Theismann once told me for a book I co-authored (Hail to RFK!) that he had started to take the game for granted that season, admitting he did not work as hard as he had in the past.
He also recalled this exchange with Carson after the injury. If Theismann sounded calm it’s partly because his body had gone into shock and the full extent, and pain, of the injury was temporarily masked. Anyway, here’s the exchange:
“Harry, I understand you’re thinking about retiring. He said, ‘Yes I am.’ I said, ‘Well don’t you go retiring because I’m coming back.' He said, 'That may be the case, pal. But it ain’t going to be tonight.'”