Donald Jones came off the left edge, beat a Washington State tackle badly with an inside pass-rush move and the University of Washington outside linebacker slammed into Drew Bledsoe as hard as you can hit a quarterback.
Bledsoe had no warning. He was blind to the blind side. This collision had to hurt some.
The Cougars offensive leader took a direct shot to the chest and was bent over backward early in the 1991 Apple Cup at Husky Stadium and went down hard on the WSU 30.
"He didn't see me coming," Jones said. "I just totally leveled him. It was one of those hits where the crowd went crazy."
This is another in series of vignettes about the UW's 1991 national championship team, supplementing the conversation for the pandemic delayed and shortened season. We're in week 11 of this throwback series, Apple Cup week. The Huskies leveled Washington State in the rivalry game 56-21.
Bledsoe, however, showed some moxie after nearly getting knocked all the way to Everett. He didn't stay down long.
"I couldn't believe he got up from that, but he was a tough kid," Jones said. "He earned my respect. He got right back up."
While not bloodied nor broken, Bledsoe got thrown off kilter some by the bone-jarring blast from Jones. A timeout, a penalty and two plays later, he threw an interception to Walter Bailey, who grabbed a tipped ball and tightroped down the sideline for a quick pick-six score and an 18-7 lead.
Bledsoe would enjoy a 14-year NFL career, quarterbacking the New England Patriots for nine years of that time until he got hurt and was permanently replaced by his backup.
A guy named Tom Brady.
Bledsoe had an interesting connection to the Huskies. His father, Mac, was a starting offensive tackle for the UW during the 1960s, but it couldn't dissuade him from playing for WSU. Had he met Donald Jones during his recruitment, maybe he would have changed his mind.
"He took a punishing hit," Jones said. "I know to this day he probably remembers that one."
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