Rookie defensive back Alan Grant returned an intercepted pass 25 yards for a touchdown with 50 seconds left Saturday night, lifting the Indianapolis Colts over the penalty-plagued Washington Redskins 35-28.
The Redskins (9-6) had already clinched their first NFC playoff berth in three years. The Colts (7-8) remained alive for a possible AFC wild-card berth.The Redskins appeared to have the game under control after two touchdown passes by Mark Rypien and four field goals by Chip Lohmiller, including a career-best 56-yarder.
Lohmiller's fourth field goal, a 27-yarder with 4:15 to go, put the Redskins up 28-21. The Colts had to punt on the next possession, but got the ball back with two minutes to go after Clarence Verdin returned a short Washington punt to the Redskins' 37.
Washington was called for encroachment, one of 14 penalties on the Redskins, putting Indianapolis at the 32. After an incomplete pass, rookie Jeff George then completed three straight, including a 12-yarder to Bill Brooks for the tying touchdown with 1:21 to go.
Rypien, who completed 18 of 37 passes for 249 yards, started the next drive at the Redskins' 21. Twenty-five seconds later, Grant picked off the pass and ran untouched into the end zone.
George hit 18 of 33 passes for 252 yards, including two earlier touchdowns to Stanley Morgan.
The running of Washington's Earnest Byner, whose 154 yards marked his fourth straight game of at least 100 yards rushing, set up Rypien's first touchdown pass, a 12-yarder to Art Monk in the first quarter. Washington took the lead with two field goals by Lohmiller in the final minute of the first half, and the Redskins got a safety when Monte Coleman sacked George in the end zone on the second play of the third quarter.
Washington padded its lead to 25-14 early in the fourth quarter on a 53-yard touchdown pass to Gary Clark.
The Colts countered on their next possession with an 8-yard TD pass from George to Morgan, his second scoring catch of the game, before Lohmiller hit his fourth field goal.
The Redskins' first-quarter touchdown pass from Rypien to Monk marked the 12th time this season that the Colts' opponent had scored first.
Washington couldn't hold the lead, however, and Indianapolis started its first scoring drive after Keith Taylor intercepted a pass by Rypien. The Colts used six Redskins penalties to keep alive two touchdown drives in the first five minutes of the second quarter.
Offside penalties on consecutive plays gave Indianapolis the ball at the Washington 32. Eric Dickerson ran six yards to the 26, then penalties for pass interference and holding took the Colts to the 4, and Dickerson ran in for the touchdown on the next play.
Indianapolis started its next drive from its own 17. After an 8-yard pass to Albert Bentley and a holding penalty on the Colts, the Redskins were penalized for unnecessary roughness and for grabbing Dickerson's face mask. George then hit Morgan on passes of 23 yards and 42 yards for the touchdown.
Washington drove to the Indianapolis 36 late in the period, and a 53-yard field goal by Lohmiller, who earlier missed a 50-yard attempt, tied the longest ever made against the Colts. He broke that record, first set against the Colts by Miami's Pete Stoyanovich earlier this year, with a career-best 56-yarder as the half ended, cutting the Indianapolis lead to 15-14. Lohmiller's best previous kick was a 55-yarder against Dallas earlier this season.
The Indianapolis lead lasted less than a minute into the third quarter when Coleman sacked George for the safety. Washington moved 54 yards on the next series, and Lohmiller's third field goal, a 29-yarder, put the Redskins up 18-14.