The Game I'll Never Forget: Desmond Bishop


Make a mistake, and all an athlete asks for is a chance for redemption. Some way to atone for the miscue.

That's what makes last season's Pac-10 showdown with Washington the most memorable game of former Cal linebacker Desmond Bishop's career.

Bishop, a sixth-round pick by the Packers in last month's NFL Draft, vividly remembers as the Golden Bears' game with the rival Huskies on Oct. 21, 2006, went into overtime that he had to do something to win it. Just had to.

Because moments earlier, in front of the home fans in Berkeley, Calif., he had made a mistake that could have lost it.

With Cal leading 24-17 and Washington down to its final play, Huskies quarterback Carl Bonnell launched a Hail Mary from 40 yards out that Bishop was in perfect position to knock down and end the game. But Bishop mistakenly tipped the ball right to Washington receiver Marlon Wood, who scored an improbable touchdown to send the game to overtime.

After losing the coin flip, Bishop and offensive star teammate Marshawn Lynch, who both wore No. 10, looked long and hard at one another.

"We pointed at each other like, 'All right, let's take it over,'" Bishop said.

First, Lynch did his part, busting free for a 22-yard touchdown run on Cal's second play of the OT. Then, it was Bishop's turn.

After Washington drove to the Cal 6 in an attempt to re-tie the game, Bishop's instincts took over.

"They kept running a flat-curl route, and they would either hit the flat or hit the curl, and they had a little bit of success," Bishop said. "So I knew they would go to it."

This time, Bishop jumped the curl route, picked off the pass and raced 80 yards the other way to seal the 31-24 win with a flood of teammates running in from the bench to chase him down the field in jubilation. The win was Cal's seventh in a row and kept the Bears undefeated in the Pac-10 at the time, at 5-0.

{sportsad300}Bishop's big play, as well as his botched one, made the SportsCenter highlights and the clip was all over the internet on YouTube and other sites. The celebration made headlines as well, as Lynch hijacked the cart used to transport injured players and wildly drove around Berkeley's artificial turf, leaving several turn tracks in his wake.

"I remember the crowd chanting my name," Bishop said. "Hearing 60-plus thousand people screaming 'Des-mond Bish-op', that was exciting."

So was the entire game for Bishop, who had a career-high 16 tackles, including four for losses, all before his game-clinching turnover. All that would have been forgotten in favor of the misplayed Hail Mary had Cal not won, but Bishop had a perfectly good reason to have a big game.

"It was right after they picked the Dick Butkus Award (finalists)," Bishop said of the honor given to the nation's top linebacker. "Apparently I didn't get it, so I was kind of playing with a chip on my shoulder."

And a redemption slip in his back pocket.

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