It was 5 years ago today that Redskins Hall of Fame legend Darrell Green played his last game.
It was unfortunate that the game was a meaningless game between two teams that were out of playoff contention instead of being an elimination game of some sort. But it was against the Cowboys and the Redskins did win so it wasn’t all bad.
Here is the account of the game and the surrounding pageantry from the pages of my book The Redskins Chronicle.
FedEx Field (12/29/2002)—The Redskins didn’t formally proclaim it to be Darrell Green Day, but the retiring cornerback and the 84,142 in attendance at FedEx Field knew that it was.
Nobody has played with one team longer than the 20 years Green spent with the Redskins, and he has built a strong bond with the fans. And Green and those fans held a mutual love fest prior to the game against the Cowboys.
Before the game he delivered an emotional address; his attempts to hold back tears were unsuccessful.
And after the final gun, he took a final victory lap around the stadium, greeting fans, accepting a bouquet of flowers and generally reveling in the affection.
“This will not sink in—this day, not playing again—for quite some time,” Green said.
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The 20-14 win over Dallas wasn’t very pretty. Green, however, provided the memories—and any win over the Cowboys after 10 straight losses to them helped make it bearable.
Green provided one of the game’s few highlights (outside of ones that will make “Football Follies”) when he ran 35 yards after taking a reverse handoff on a punt return. He even hurdled a would-be tackler, reminding many of his daring play in his younger days.
Other than that, the play mostly was ragged. Watson’s touchdown was set up when Renaldo Wynn sacked Dallas quarterback Chad Hutchinson and stripped the ball away. LaVar Arrington recovered at the Cowboy 24 and Watson went off right guard for the score four plays later. In the third quarter, Arrington put the Redskins ahead to stay.
On a third and 22 play from the Dallas 14, end Bruce Smith blew by two blockers and blindsided Hutchinson. The ball went flying back to the end zone where Arrington pounced on it for a 14-7 Washington lead.
A pair of Jose Cortez field goals put the Redskins up 20-7 in the fourth quarter. After the first one, the Redskins appeared to have wrapped the game up. The Cowboys’ Woodrow Dantzler fumbled the ensuing kickoff. The ball was lying on the ground and nobody realized it was still alive until the Redskins’ Bryan Johnson scooped it up and ran 12 yards into the end zone. In the confusion, however, the Washington defense had started to take the field and the Redskins lost both the score and possession due to the subsequent penalty.
Washington got a scare when Hutchinson converted a fourth and 14 play with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Bryant to make it 20-14 with 3:10 left to play. The Redskins could breathe easy only after Watson gained seven yards on a third and six carry and Ramsey could kneel down to kill the rest of the clock. The Redskins’ first win over Dallas since October of 1997 was in the books, as was Green’s amazing career.