The Last Great Come Back And Almost Come Back Losses (Part 2–Creative Writing)
Part 4: Brief history of Fullback Larry Centers.
The following summer fullback Larry Centers had been unexpectedly released by the Arizona Cardinals and Dan Snyder’s ownerships 1st personnel move was sign Centers to Washington. Centers was cut by Arizona due to salary cap considerations and durability and was considered the heart and soul of the Cardinals, according to Wikipedia.
In 1999, Centers recorded 69 receptions with WFT and the following year he caught 81passes. At the time, Centers passed Keith Byers for most receptions by a running back…those who remember Keith Byers, he was the great Philadelphia Eagles pass catcher…however that record did not help as the beginning of the end of Larry Centers career path with WFT or Norv Turner‘s career with Washington…as Norv was fired and the late Marty Schottenheimer came in and turned over the roster.
But at the time of Center’s signing in July 1999, Mark Maske reported (in a July 7, 1999 WP article) that Larry Centers was considered “a long-time tormentor” when he played for the Arizona Cardinals.
Furthermore in that article Maske mentioned that Centers “in his 9-year career had been one of the NFL‘s most productive pass catchers out of the backfield.”
Even though in the 2 games, Centers had 1 touchdown and only 7 receptions for 50 yds it was 1 key reception that helped key the comeback in 1st game which had fans like us muttering Plummer as the GOAT of comebacks and clutch plays and cannot be stopped!
Game 1: November 8, 1998 WFT (1-7) at Arizona Cardinals (4-4), Sun Devils Stadium. 4th quarter, :35 seconds left, WFT just scored on a drive to go up. A few WFT fans, still held hope of running the table, most wondered if Turner was leaving town if Plummer made an improbable comeback.
Jake sat on the sidelines, actually, Jake warmed up on the sidelines, down 27-26 with :35 seconds left in the game. A controversy for some that believed that it appeared from the TV there were :34 seconds when the ball was kicked off into the end zone–a dead ball and Arizona was given :35 seconds to work magic for their own 20.
As it turned out, this fact would have no effect on the outcome as the game was not decided by a second, just a final score.
Then when Plummer got the ball, he dropped back on 1st down and found his elusive and somewhat controlled player up until that point Larry Centers out of the backfield for a 1st down.
Like a stealth bomber Jake’ the Snake’ and Arizona was on the move. The next play, like some sort of Super Mario video game Larry Centers caught the ball for another 1st down and ran to Ari 45 before being tackled inbounds. Could anyone guard Centers when it counted as barely visible most of the game Centers had to come alive when the last gasp of WFT and possibly Turner’s career was at stake.
Jake ‘The Snake’ was slithering as they called a timeout with 22 seconds left at their 45.
Arizona had 1 timeout left. Since WFT only had 2, WFT knew they needed to stop Plummer and Arizona from scoring. Out of the timeout, Plummer stayed in the pocket and had quite a bit of time and us fans thought he would be going back to Centers instead he went to his other cohort Frank Sanders right at the sidelines and Sanders after the catch downfield was able to get out of bounds easily at the WFT 45 with :16 seconds left.
Would Jake ‘The Snake’ be stopped as he was building a reputation for comebacks and gritty play. Some were mentioning him for the ‘MVP.’
Would Centers or Sanders catch a pass with enough time to give them a chance to attempt a game winning kick…
Well, WFT fans were certain a stop was going to be had, maybe! Just say, maybe!
Arizona broke the huddle and lined up at WFT 45, and Plummer took the snap and under pressure threw high. Probably a good miss as the receiver was not all that far downfield and :13 seconds left off the clock.
The collective breath of WFT fans, well, that might have been for a different season but Plummer sat back and broke hearts-1998, by spotting Eric Metcalf at the 29.
Metcalf, the son of the great Terry (both Cowboy and Redskin) never had a better pro play. But in the annals of WFT fandom, Centers is the FB, fans remember on that day, not the player who always seemed to have more potential.
Cardinal players who were still fighting for an elusive division were holding hands on the sidelines…not quite BLM days, fortunately or unfortunately as many of us were even aware of social issues and sports in 1998…Assistant GM Doug Williams, Congressman Heath Shuler did come back to DC…and Arizona hit a 48-yarder and it was all but final, 29-27. Or Jake ‘The Snake’ 1, Norv’s Seat 0.
Game 2 November 22, 1998. Arizona
Cardinals (5-5) at Washington Redskins (2-8), formerly Cooke Stadium (now FedEx Field). 4 minutes left, 3rd quarter, Arizona 31 WFT 13.
Plummer finds Larry Centers who once again had been somewhat invisible for a 38-13 lead. In the AFC, Elway would win the Super Bowl but Plummer was getting more play as the QB of the decade than an aged and could he even throw the ball anymore Elway in 98 as opposed to 91.
Plummer had been running, passing, scrambling and looked like the next Joe Montana or Steve Young. Here in Cooke (at the time), many thought we were witnessing a new legend. Little did we know it would be a legend for how much futility would be displayed by Plummer and ARI since that day. Also, at 38-13, many thought the next ticket out of town would have Norval stamped on it.
As Plummer dove into the end zone late in the 4th to make it 45-35, it looked like this score of Plummer’s had quelled an improbable comeback bid by the unknown Trent Green. WFT had pulled within 38-35 on Green’s heroic but Plummer once again could not be stopped finally diving in for his 3rd rushing td and what seemed like a sure clinching win. The Last Great Come Back And Almost Come Back Losses.
However, WFT kept on coming. The offensive genius of Norval Turner might have finally blossom on those fields against Jake ‘The Snake’ and ‘Mean’ Joe—well, he was on the sidelines.
WFT and Green score again and finally stopped Jake ‘The Snake’ getting the ball back with them on the clock, down 45-42.
Two weeks before, Jake ‘The Snake’ had orchestrated a comeback with cohorts Sanders and Centers.
Green dropped back knowing that a lot of fans who were already anointing Turner out and a new QB in, Plummer a franchise and WFT really in need of Joe—not Gibbs, yes! There, Green unfortunately 1st pass was juggled and picked. The day ended. Jake’ The Snake’ won.
Part 6: Jake ‘The Snake’, Trent Green et al.
Maybe ‘Mean’ Joe saw a 5th those days…actually how many does, it is Mean! Terry Bradshaw–Jake ‘The Snake’ or something like that, Brady surpassed all of that…Washington actually went on to play very good football but the most important and gratifying aspect for Washington the next season: drum roll please…the following year, yes, the following year yes WFT which had been bought by Snyder and signed Centers won their division and beat Plummer in both games (in 1999).
Yes, WFT did it twice! Both games against Plummer were sound trouncing with no need for last minute heroics, etc.
Actually, after 1998, Plummer never had a winning record as an Arizona QB (becoming a winner much later on in Denver).
Trent Green, on the other hand, seemed to never be able to stay on the field for WFT– injury prone for every season with this team. Finally released, Green actually excelled as KCC starter after his improbable stint with WFT. Now, Green does work in media.
Centers seemed to be the greatest acquisition that Snyder has to his name. Even though the player had somewhat of a checkered past (as I wrote a brief history), Centers came to our squad and gave us that vigor to enact revenge against the Snake. This blogger is a WFT fan so alert NFL: do we have a winning record against any team this century and is there any player outside a Haskins or the few others who we have ran out of town who WFT are not willing to come here to help if it means winning…hmmm, this blogger hears Dez is signing up! That what Centers did for us back in 1999. Held a grudge!
As for Plummer, you have to ask him about his Jake ‘the Snake’ days, but it seems like his playing career exceled in Denver where he pretty much dropped his nickname…when he became…well, let us just say, the black stallion (or bronco) in him probably stamped out the snake.
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