Last week, Mark Brunell was the target of newspaper columnists and radio talk-show hosts who charged Brunell's play was the primary reason the Redskins started the season with an 0-2 record.
Whether right or wrong, there's no denying that Brunell was a primary reason the Redskins defeated the Houston Texans 31-15 on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. The victory improved the Redskins' record to 1-2.
Brunell completed his first 22 passes of Sunday's game, setting an NFL single-game record.
Overall, he completed 24-of-27 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown pass, a 23-yarder to Antwaan Randle El. He was not sacked once.
Most of Brunell's passes on Sunday were of the short or intermediate variety, but it was still an impressive feat nonetheless.
"He can't do much better than what he did today," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "He threw everything pinpoint and made some very good throws. He is truly a competitor.
"I felt like last week he took everything to heart and he personally told me he had not been feeling like he had been doing his job well and that he wanted to do better."
Added Brunell: "It felt good. It is an offensive team record, really. The offensive line did great. We ran the ball like we wanted. It is a nice honor, but the record should go to all 11 guys that were on the field."
Twice during Brunell's passing streak, he tossed incomplete passes, only to see the plays nullified by penalties. The record-breaking pass was a simple wide receiver screen pass to Santana Moss, who gained six yards.
Brunell broke the record of 21 previously held by Rich Gannon, who had set his mark on Nov. 11, 2002, with the Oakland Raiders.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb holds the NFL record of most consecutive completions with 24, set during a two game-stretch in 2004.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana also completed 22 consecutive passes in a two-game stretch in 1987.
"I kept looking up there at the scoreboard and guys told me not to say anything to him," running back Rock Cartwright said. "Kind of like in baseball--you don't say anything about a no-hitter, so I didn't say anything. Mark had a great game."
Added left tackle Chris Samuels: "A lot of people have been down on Mark, saying he was washed up. But he went out there, blocked out all of the negativity and he just played outstanding. He was hot. Everything was clicking for him. He was the leader out there."
Brunell turned 36 yards last Sunday. Asked last week if he was eager to prove critics wrong, he replied: "I am not trying to prove anyone wrong. That is not my job. My job is to do what I can do to help us win. I understand there are a lot of things being said, but I can't pay attention to them. All I can focus on is leading this team and getting us on track and winning a football game."
On Sunday in Houston, Brunell spread passes around to eight different receivers, including six to Moss for 50 yards.
Brunell's touchdown pass, his first of the season, came early in the second quarter. On 3rd-and-4 at the Texans' 23-yard line, Brunell threw a short pass to Randle El, uncovered in the left flat. Randle El weaved his way through would-be tacklers, into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown.
Brunell sustained a laceration on the elbow of his throwing arm during the game. The elbow was wrapped up on the sidelines and he continued to play the game. The injury is not considered serious, but his status for practice this week will be updated on Monday.
Heading into Sunday's game, associate head coach-offense Al Saunders said he had never wavered in his confidence in Brunell.
"Mark is going to be fine," Saunders said. "We have to help him and the people around him have to help him. Everybody has to do a better job because the quarterback's production often relies on the people that are catching the ball, the people that are blocking, the play design and our effort.
"We will do a better job and help Mark be a better player. I think he is going to be fine."