Jeff Rutledge, a former Ram backup quarterback who was pretty much forgotten about during eight seasons with the New York Giants, resurfaced in Pontiac, Mich., Sunday as a member of the Washington Redskins.
All he did was come on in the third quarter to complete 30 of 42 passes for 363 yards and rally the Redskins from a 21-point deficit to a 41-38 overtime victory over the Detroit Lions.
As good as his passing was, Rutledge's biggest play was a run. Rutledge went 12 yards to score on a draw play with 18 seconds left in regulation and send the game into overtime.
Then in the extra period he led the Redskins on a drive from their own 10 to the Detroit 17, completing five passes for 69 yards. With 5:50 left, Chip Lohmiller kicked a 34-yard field goal for the victory.
"The quarterback draw is something we didn't put in until Saturday," Redskin Coach Joe Gibbs said. "I saw a couple of other quarterback draws run on them and I thought we may want to use it.
"Jeff is probably the last guy in the world you would go to with a quarterback draw. It was a fantastic play on his part."
Rutledge, who lives in Mission Viejo during the off-season, was signed as a free agent after appearing in only one game last season for the Giants.
He was a ninth-round draft pick by the Rams out of Alabama in 1979, and has been a backup most of his career. He started four games in 1983 and four in 1987.
He has never had a game like this one.
"The first thing I did was pray," said Rutledge, who replaced Stan Humphries with 10:23 left in the third quarter. "It was 35-14 when I went in there. I said, 'Good Lord, let me go in there and relax and come back and take it a little bit at a time.' I had the feeling when we scored the first time we had a chance to win this ballgame.
"This is something I'll always look back on if I never play another game again."
It was the 13th consecutive time the Redskins (5-3) have defeated the Lions (3-5), including the first game of the 1982 playoffs. In fact, Detroit hasn't beaten Washington since 1965, six months before Rodney Peete, Sunday's starting quarterback, was born.
"We just didn't make the plays when we had to," said Bob Gagliano, who quarterbacked Detroit after Peete pulled a hamstring in the third quarter. "It was a team effort. This is one of the worst defeats I've ever been associated with. It was heartbreaking."
The Redskins overwhelmed the Lions statistically. It was four turnovers--three interceptions and a lost fumble--that gave Detroit the lead.
Washington, controlling the ball for 49 minutes 52 seconds, rolled up 674 net yards to 347 for Detroit, which had the ball only 19:18, including one possession in overtime.
Humphries and Rutledge combined for 482 yards in the air to 187 for the Lions. Art Monk caught 13 passes for 168 yards, Ricky Sanders 11 for 132, and Gary Clark eight for 132.
But on this day Rutledge, 33, was the biggest star.