The third-stringer from Harvard led the Rams to a stunning comeback win over Houston last week, and will get a chance to build on the surprising performance when the Rams host the Washington Redskins.
Fitzpatrick, a seventh-round pick and the first Crimson quarterback to play in the NFL, threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns as St. Louis rallied from a 24-3 deficit to beat the Texans 33-27 in overtime Sunday.
Fitzpatrick took over for Jamie Martin, who was knocked out in the second quarter, and earned NFC offensive player of the week honors.
“Once I let that first ball go, everything was fine,” Fitzpatrick said. “I was in a situation where going in, you’re not the starter and you’re just thrown into the situation and you don’t have much time to think about it.”
Fitzpatrick became the fifth quarterback to throw for 300 yards in his debut and the first quarterback to throw a TD pass in overtime in his first game when he hit Kevin Curtis for the winning score.
“I am sure I will always have some doubters out there,” he said. “But I have always been convinced of this and today was no shock to me.”
Fitzpatrick was finally assured Friday of the opportunity to duplicate his amazing performance, as interim coach Joe Vitt declared him the starter.
“Do you want a drum roll?” Vitt said. “Yes. I think he gets better every day, he really does.”
Fitzpatrick appears to have validated ailing coach Mike Martz’s decision to take a chance on the Harvard career total offense record holder and last season’s Ivy League player of the year.
The Rams, who kept their slim playoff hopes alive, know that Martz wants to return to the sidelines after missing six games with a heart ailment, but team president John Shaw said Wednesday he would be shocked if Martz got medical clearance to return this season.
The Redskins also have slim postseason hopes, but those are fading after dropping three in a row and six of eight.
Washington suffered a heartbreaking 23-17 overtime defeat at home to San Diego last week, a game it led 17-7 in the fourth quarter. The loss marked the third consecutive week the Redskins blew a lead in the final period.
“Why this would happen to us?” Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. “I don’t know. We’ve had three tough losses and a total of five tough losses. I wouldn’t want a different group to coach. These are the guys I like. It’s up to us, and we’re going to see what’s going to happen down the road.”
Gibbs wants his team focused on trying to win out as it scrambles to secure a playoff spot despite a 3-0 start.
“I think we’ve got a ton to play for,” he said. “Each one of these games is kind of precious to us. We need to get back on the winning track. Everyone can count the numbers. We’ve got five wins; we’ve got five games left.”
The Redskins have been shut out in the fourth quarter in four of the last five games.