In the third quarter, Washington Redskin fans were booing Darrell Green. By the end of the game, he had all of RFK Stadium on its feet.
Green, part of a secondary that had been picked apart all afternoon, intercepted Scott Mitchell's pass 3:49 into overtime and returned it seven yards for a touchdown, giving Washington a 36-30 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Green dove in front of receiver Johnnie Morton to make the interception, then got up and ran into the end zone as enthusiastic teammates grabbed him.
"It was just something that worked out good for me," said Green, a 13-year veteran cornerback. "All I know is I was doing what I was supposed to do."
Former Lion kicker Eddie Murray sent the game into overtime with a 39-yard field goal with four seconds left in regulation, capping a 58-yard drive that was sparked by Brian Mitchell, who accounted for 39 yards with two carries and a reception.
The victory extended the Lions' 60 years of futility in the nation's capital. Detroit has lost all 17 games it has played in Washington, its last road victory in the series coming in 1935, when the Redskins were based in Boston. The Redskins have won 17 in a row overall against the Lions, the longest current streak in the NFL.
The victory was also a needed psychological boost for the Redskins (3-5). They had lost consecutive close games--one in overtime to the Eagles and one in the waning minutes to Arizona--and had lost nine times after leading or being tied in the fourth quarter since Norv Turner became coach last year.
"Well, we won a close one," said Turner, now 3-13 as the Redskins' coach in games decided by eight points or less. "A game like that, and so many of our games come down to one play--if you just keep playing, we're capable of making that play."
Green, one of the most popular Redskins, was burned--albeit on excellent passes--on scoring plays that spelled defeat this season against Denver and Arizona. On Sunday, the 35-year-old cornerback was booed when he was fooled by receiver Brett Perriman, giving up an easy reception.
"I've been booed before," Green said. "It's part of football. I think they have every right. It's part of the emotion of the game. And I just don't live my life that way [for it to bother me]. If I do, I'm in big trouble."
On that drive, Mitchell was moving the Lions (2-5) with ease. Shortly afterward, he passed to Morton for a seven-yard touchdown play and a 20-13 lead.
But Redskins took a 27-23 lead on Henry Ellard's 13-yard touchdown catch--his 700th career reception--with 10:27 remaining.
"It's something I'll appreciate when I retire and look back on my career," said the former Ram who became the sixth player to reach the 700 plateau. "I can't begin to feel what it may mean until I sit back and think about it."
Mitchell (30 for 50, 327 yards and three touchdowns) connected with Perriman on a 51-yarder with 3:21 to play in regulation to put the Lions up, 30-27.