Suddenly, after dominating much of the game, the Packers were on the ropes. Washington's Rod Gardner made an incredible, leaping catch on a deep crossing route for 17 yards and a first down to the Packers' 43. After an incomplete pass, Brunell was blitzed by cornerback Joey Thomas but found running back Clinton Portis open in the middle of the field. Portis eluded linebacker Nick Barnett, picked up some blocks down field and scored practically untouched with what would have been the go-ahead touchdown.
Instead, the referees intervened. Before the snap, wide receiver James Thrash motioned to the right. When he started in motion, Thrash was at the 46. Just before the snap of the ball, Thrash stepped forward to the 45. He was not set for a full second, however, when the ball was snapped. That constitutes an illegal-motion penalty — borderline, perhaps — nullifying the touchdown.
"It's an absolute mystery to me," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said of the call.
"That's a season-breaker," Gardner said. "After all that, we put ourselves in that position. We came back, and they get us on an illegal shift? Come on, man."
On the next play, Brunell tried to hit Gardner with another deep crossing route, but cornerback Al Harris diagnosed the play and made a game-saving interception. His 29-yard return set up the Packers' clinching touchdown four plays later, with Green carrying the ball on all four plays, covering 36 yards and the final, 11-yard burst.
"I don't feel like a hero or anything. I'm just doing my job," said Harris, who was questionable for the game due to a knee injury and was awarded the game ball for his clutch play.