The Washington Football Team has had several great players in its illustrious history, and while Sean Taylor's time in the burgundy and gold was tragically cut short, it was nothing short of legendary. On Sunday, Washington will retire Taylor’s jersey during its game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Taylor, the No. 5 overall pick in 2004, was a bonafide star for Washington in his four years with the team. He amassed 305 tackles, 43 pass breakups and 12 interceptions in his career, and he created some unforgettable moments for the fanbase.
So, here are five plays that show why Taylor means so much to the organization and its fans.
Taylor's blocked field goal return against Dallas
It was Nov. 5, 2006, and it looked like the Dallas Cowboys were about to leave FedExField with a win. The score was tied, 19-19, with six seconds left on the clock as Mike Vanderjagt, who had already scored from 33 and 30 yards, lined up to kick the game-winning field goal from 35-yards out.
But then the unexpected happened. Troy Vincent broke through the Cowboys' line and blocked Vanderjagt's kick. It was then picked up by Taylor, who ran backwards before turning upfield and sprinting down to the Cowboys' 45-yard line.
It seemed the game was heading into overtime, but a flag was thrown while Taylor was running back the return. Taylor had been grabbed by his facemask, which moved the ball up 15 more yards and put Washington in field goal range. The game was allowed to continue for one untimed down, and Nick Novak nailed the 47-yarder to give Washington the win.
Taylor seals the game against Chicago
On paper, Washington had blown the Chicago Bears away. It had nearly twice as many yards and had six third-down conversions to the Bears' one. And yet all Washington had to show for it was a 13-10 lead.
Chicago had managed to stay in the game, and with 25 seconds left, it had one last opportunity to keep its hopes alive on a fourth-and-15. Jonathan Quinn dropped back for a pass and surveyed his options. He thought he had a man deep downfield, so with Washington players closing in on him, he reared back and fired.
Taylor read the route perfectly, though, and at the last second, he broke on the ball and grabbed the first interception of his career. And to truly put the game away, he returned the ball all the way back to Chicago's 15-yard line.
Taylor scores a playoff touchdown
Taylor was only part of one playoff team in his career, but he certainly made his presence known.
After Clinton Portis gave Washington a 7-0 lead with a six-yard rushing touchdown, Chris Simms and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were looking for a response. At first, it looked like running back Cadillac Williams had been taken down for a minimal gain. But then Washington's players started pointing excitedly as Marcus Washington started running in the other direction.
Washington only made it about seven yards before fumbling himself. That's when Taylor picked up the loose ball and took over from there, as he ran in the 51-yard score for the second touchdown of his career.
The play gave Washington a two-score lead, and while Washington only got another three points for the rest of the game, Taylor's touchdown was enough to help keep the Buccaneers at bay.
Taylor grounds the Eagles in the season finale
Washington was on a roll to end the 2005 season. It had won four straight games heading into Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and Taylor was about to help supply the team with its fifth.
Washington was holding onto a 24-20 lead with 2:30 left to play. Koy Detmer was drawing his arm back to attempt a pass, but just as he was about to let the ball fly, Phillip Daniels knocked it out of his hand. The ball rolled to about the 39-yard line, and after a brief struggle for possession, Taylor scooped it up and sprinted down the sideline before diving into the end zone, giving Washington a 31-20 lead.
From that point on, Washington cruised to its 10th win of the season and a 5-1 division record. It was the first Washington had won the NFC East since 1999, and because of Taylor's effort, it clinched a playoff berth.
Taylor levels Brian Moorman in the Pro Bowl
Playing at half-speed in a game was never an option for Taylor, and that even includes one that didn't count.
After being a standout for Washington in his first two seasons with six interceptions, 27 pass deflections and four forced fumbles, Taylor finally got the Pro Bowl recognition he deserved with 114 tackles in his third year. He was known throughout his career for delivering big hits, and his takedown of Bills punter Brian Moorman might be his most memorable.
With the AFC leading the NFC in the third quarter, 21-14, the AFC decided to run a fake punt at its own 48-yard line. Moorman took the snap and immediately sprinted for the first down marker. He might have gotten there, too, had it not been for Taylor sprinting in from the secondary to send Moorman flying, forcing a turnover on downs. After the play, Moorman even jogged over to Taylor and congratulated him for the hit.
The NFC ended up losing the game, but fans still got to see one of the many plays that encapsulated Taylor's effort and mentality on the field.