It was a stunning comeback. Mark Brunell had connected with Clinton Portis on a 43-yard touchdown pass, tying Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers at 20-20 late in the fourth quarter.
Players rushed downfield to celebrate with Portis. Brunell was greeted on the sideline with a hug from backup Patrick Ramsey. But a few yards behind the line of scrimmage sat a yellow flag. Wide receiver James Thrash was called for illegal motion in the backfield. Just like that, the touchdown was nullified.
On the very next play, Brunell was intercepted by Packers' cornerback Al Harris, all but ending the Redskins' comeback attempt and deflating the excitement of the capacity FedExField crowd.
In the end, the Packers won 28-14, dropping the Redskins' record to 2-5 on the season. In his first-ever appearance at FedExField and his first game in Washington since 1991, Brett Favre was 20-of-33 for 289 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
"I told our players I was proud of them and the way they fight, regardless of the odds," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "I told them, Today we had a lot of stuff go against us.' But they fought hard. And somewhere in here we need to find a way to get better so that we can start winning."
The Redskins had two key injuries in the game. Kick returner Chad Morton left the game in the first quarter with a right knee injury. He was carted off the field and did not return to the game. Safety Andre Lott, who started for Sean Taylor, suffered a left pectoral muscle injury in the second half and did not return to the game.
The Redskins comeback effort began midway through the fourth quarter. Down 20-7, Shawn Springs intercepted his second pass of the game and returned the ball 29 yards to Green Bay's 17-yard line. Two plays later, Brunell connected with wide receiver Rod Gardner on a 12-yard touchdown pass. The score pulled Washington to within 20-14.
On the Packers' next offensive series, Fred Smoot picked off a Favre pass on a diving catch. But the touchdown reversal and subsequent turnover gave the Packers the ball back with 2:25 left in the game. Ahman Green capped off the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown run.
The Redskins trailed Green Bay throughout the game. The defense struggled to contain Favre and the Packers' downfield passing attack. Favre connected on passes of 41, 48 and 48 yards in the first half as Green Bay built a 17-0 lead.
The Packers took an early 3-0 lead on a 37-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell in the first quarter. Green Bay moved into scoring position with to a 41-yard pass from Favre to wide receiver Donald Driver, who got a step on Springs on the play. But the Redskins' defense clamped down, with Smoot breaking up a pass to Walker in the end zone and Antonio Pierce tackling Green on a swing pass, forcing Longwell's the field goal.
Early in the second quarter, Green Bay scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by Green. The scored completed a 9-play, 75-yard drive for the Packers. Favre connected with wide receiver Robert Ferguson on a 48-yard pass to put the Packers inside the Redskins' 15-yard line.
The Redskins had forced Green Bay into a 4th and inches at the 1-yard line. Favre threw a pass into the left corner of the end zone to tight end David Martin. Linebacker Lemar Marshall broke up the play, but he was called for pass interference, giving the Packers a 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Green scored on the next play.
Midway through the second quarter, Favre connected on a 9-yard pass to Walker to give the Packers a 17-0 advantage. The score capped a 5-play, 76-yard drive and included a 48-yard pass from Favre to Green.
On the Redskins' next series, Brunell was intercepted by Packers' safety Bhawoe Jue, who was playing for injured starter Darren Sharper. But Favre was then picked off by Springs, who returned his interception 28 yards to give the Redskins a first down at the Packers' 24-yard line.
One play later, Brunell found Gardner in the right corner of the end zone for the Redskins' first touchdown.
On the second half kickoff, Gibbs elected to try an onsides kick, but he could not catch the Packers napping. Jue recovered the kick, giving Green Bay excellent field position. Favre connected on a 21-yard pass to Walker to help set up Longwell's second field goal of the game, a 39-yarder.
The Packers had built a lead that in the end was insurmountable.
Brunell finished the game completing 25-of-44 passes for 218 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Laveranues Coles and Portis had seven catches each, while Taylor Jacobs added five. Portis rushed for 70 yards on 17 carries.
"We moved the ball up and down the field pretty well," H-back-tight end Chris Cooley said. "That's a positive for us, but we still have to be able to score. We need to get the ball in the end zone. We let our defense down. They forced a few turnovers and held a great offense to just 20 points."
Said Brunell: "We got in the locker room after the game and everybody said, 'Let's stick together and keep the positive attitude.' Pretty soon things are going to go our way."