The Master: Gibbs Goes Off

The Redskins' playoff position as the top Wild Card had already been set before this game, the 1986 regular season finale, started, but Joe Gibbs refused to let his team mail it in.

December 21, 1986, Veterans Stadium—"We were dead. No, worse than dead," said Dexter Manley.

"It seemed to be one of those days when everything I did and every choice I made was wrong," said Jay Schroeder.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Don Warren of Joe Gibbs' halftime tirade.

These were words from the winning locker room. The Redskins scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to take the win over the Eagles. Philadelphia had taken a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a pair on oneyard touchdown runs, one by quarterback Randall Cunningham, the other by running back Andrew Toney. For the next thirty minutes of play the Redskins continually tried to give the visitors the opportunity to put the game away with turnovers and stalled drives, but Philly refused to accept the offer and it was still 14-0 as the fourth quarter neared.

On the final play of the third period, a promising Redskins drive was kept alive when an Eagles fumble recovery at their 20 was negated by a roughing call and Washington maintained possession. Shortly after that, Schroeder drilled a pass to Clint Didier for 13 yards and the Redskins' first touchdown. Newly-signed kicker Jess Atkinson's extra point was good, and it was 14-7.

Nine plays after a pair of sacks, one by Manley, the other by Rich Milot, had forced an Eagles punt and given the Redskins possession at their own 36, the score was tied. Gibbs crossed the Eagles up by calling for a pass on second and goal at the two and the result was a two-yard TD pass from Schroeder to Warren.

After another Philly three and out, the Redskins were facing third and ten at their own 43. Ricky Sanders, the only eligible receiver who was on a pattern and not double covered, ran a streak down the right sideline. He had a step on cornerback Roynell Young and laid out parallel to the ground to snag Schroeder's pass at the 16. After that spectacular play, the more mundane was utilized as George Rogers carried four straight times, the last for the winning TD with 2:19 remaining.

December 22, 1986:

Gibbs' Haltime Tirade Still a Big Topic

Chairs were flipped. The coach's arms were waving. His voice went several octaves higher than his normal, calm tone.

"Screechy," was the way linebacker Neal Olkewicz described Joe Gibbs' voice. "Definitely screechy."

"I thought maybe Coach Gibbs had been fired, and Mike Ditka (coach of the Chicago Bears) had been hired at halftime," free safety Curtis Jordan said.

But, no, it was Gibbs, riled by his team's lack of intensity in the first half of the game against the Eagles.

"There were veins stick out of his neck," said linebacker Rich Milot.

There was evidence that this was a very controlled rage. "He never used any four-letter words," said Milot.

Planned or not, controlled or not, the tirade apparently worked. The Redskins rallied from a 14-0 halftime deficit to beat Philadelphia 21-14.

Gibbs was more reflective later on. "Turning it around like that is the toughest challenge there is," he said. "I'll remember that long after I've forgotten what's on the scoreboard."

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