Brian Mitchell: ‘Body Bag Game’ sparked Washington’s 1992 Super Bowl run

B-Mitch: ‘Body Bag Game’ sparked Washington's 1992 SB run originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Brian Mitchell played 10 seasons as a running back and return specialist in Washington, eclipsing over 3,400 rushing yards in 159 games. One game sticks out to him more clearly than all others, probably because it later became known as the “Body Bag Game.”

And yes, it was against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In an interview with Rick “Doc” Walker on the Washington Football Team’s digital show The Legacy, Mitchell discussed that cold Monday night in Philadelphia in Week 10 of the 1990 season. It was called the “Body Bag Game” for a reason: injuries were piling high due to what some might call dirty tactics by Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan.

“That game we got tested by the bully, and the bully got the best of us. But they didn’t kill us. They left us breathing, and we had a chance to come back. And when you come back, you make sure you understand, ‘you made a mistake by not taking me out,’” Mitchell warns.

With the injury count mounting for Washington in Veterans Stadium (nine D.C. players went down in total), team morale was teetering on being lost. With starting quarterback and later Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien already inactive due to a preexisting injury, and backup QB Jeff Rutledge one of the players downed during the contest, legendary head coach Joe Gibbs had few other options. He turned to Mitchell, who played quarterback at Southwestern Louisiana.

Mitchell stepped up when it counted, and although the Eagles would go on to win 28-14, he would go 3-for-6 passing with 40 yards and one rushing touchdown.

“That game was one of them games where you go in the game and people are getting hurt, and it seemed like they have your number and nothing was working for us. But you know what? Nobody quit,” Mitchell says. “I think that game started our Super Bowl run for the next year. When I was in Philly, they always talk about the ‘Body Bag Game,’ and I say, ‘Yeah, you know I was a part of that game?’ They say, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘When we were in the playoffs, y’all’s tails got knocked out by us,’” Mitchell describes.

Washington would go on to win Super Bowl XXVI in 1992 as Mitchell foretold, the third mountaintop the team would climb in franchise history.

“It’s because the offensive line and the defensive line—they took [the beating] personally,” Mitchell said. “You know, some days you don’t have your best. But you don’t just say, ‘Well man, I’m just gonna quit.’ No! You fight ‘till the end, you fight being a warrior, and then you come back the next time and you remember every damn thing they did to you and you get ‘em back—and that’s what we did. Then that next year, it was a runaway locomotive.”

Brian Mitchell would be the workhorse of the team that year, and by the time he retired in 2003, he would rank second all-time in all-purpose yards in the NFL behind only Jerry Rice. Indeed, they were the ‘locomotive’ that Mitchell describes, as USA Today still ranks that 1991-92 Washington squad as the sixth-best team in NFL history.

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