Are Low-Scoring Wins A Good Omen For Skins?

Are Low-Scoring Wins A Good Omen For Skins?
October 28, 2010, 9:02 pm
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Thursday, October 28, 2010 5:00 PM

By Rich Tandler
Redskins Blogger

As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, the Redskins have attained their 4-3 record by winning ugly. One of the reasons that their four wins have been unpleasing to the eyes of many is that they all have been low-scoring affairs. In none of their winning efforts have the Redskins scored more than 17 points. They beat the Cowboys 13-7, won in Philadelphia 17-12, edged the Packers 16-13 in overtime and held off the Bears for a 17-14 win in Chicago. The two times that the Redskins scored more than 17 points in a game they have lost, falling 30-27 to the Texans and 27-24 to the Colts. The common fan reaction to all of the low-scoring wins is that its great, but not good. Its great because the Redskins are winning; the problem, they say, is that good teams dont win like that. Maybe thats true for some teams but a look through Redskins history reveals that winning a lot of low-scoring games is a sign of at least modest success. Since 1970, the Redskins have won 71 regular season games while scoring 17 points or fewer (that is out of 341 total regular season wins). There are a few memorable games on that list, such as the 2005 game in Dallas, a 14-13 win that saw Mark Brunell and Santana Moss connect on two long touchdown passes in the final five minutes of play. Others, like the 9-7 win over the Rams last year that saw the team get booed off the field, were as dull as watching paint dry. A season-by-season look reveals that when such games occur in bunches during a given season, the Redskins have a successful year. Since 1970, the Redskins have won at least four games in a season while scoring 17 points or fewer five times. In addition, they managed to do that three times during the 1982 season, which was shortened to nine games due to a players strike. 200510-6, Wild Card playoffs This was the best Redskins team of Joe Gibbs second tenure with the Redskins and most remember them for their late-season routs of Dallas (35-7) and the Giants (35-20) and their 31-20 win over the Eagles to cap the season and clinch a playoff spot. However for those games to be meaningful they had to win four low-scoring games earlier in the season. A week before the above-mentioned stunning win over Dallas, they beat the Bears 9-7 to open the season. They also posted a 17-10 win over the Eagles in Week 9 and they edged the Cardinals 17-13 in Week 14. In the playoffs they got another low-scoring win, beat the Bucs 17-10 in the first round of the playoffs. 19929-7, Wild Card playoffs The last team of Gibbs first run as head coach was fighting both the Super Bowl hangover following their 1991 championship and an aging core of veteran players. They beat the Vikings 15-13 without scoring a touchdown, relying on five Chip Lohmiller field goals. Washington scored just one touchdown while beating Detroit (13-10), Philadelphia (16-12), and Seattle (16-3). 198612-4, Wild Card playoff spot, Lost in NFC championship game This season was known for the passing of Jay Schroeder (Pro Bowl, 4,109 yards) and the emergence of Gary Clark as an impact receiver (Pro Bowl, 73 receptions, 1,265 yards) as well as George Rodgers best season as a Redskin (1,203 yards rushing). However, they struggled to score at times but they managed to pull out four wins while scoring 17 or fewer points. Dexter Manley called out Joe Montana, threatening to ring his clock leading up to a Monday night game against the 49ers. The spectators needed an alarm clock to stay away during the Redskins dull 14-6 win. They also beat the Raiders 10-6, the Saints 14-6, and the Packers 16-7. 19828-1, Top seed in NFC playoffs, Super Bowl champions As noted above, this team won three games while scoring 17 points or fewer but they make this list because they did it during a strike-shortened, nine-game regular season. Their low-scoring wins include one of the most famous games in team history, their 15-14 victory over the Giants in swirling December snow at RFK Stadium. Mark Mosleys game-winning field goal not only broke the NFL record for the most consecutive successful field goal attempts, it clinched a playoff spot for the Redskins. A week before that game, the scoring offense all Moseley as his four field goals were enough to beat the Cardinals 12-7. The strike pushed their home opener back to November 28 and they made that a success by beating the Eagles 13-9. 197910-6, Lost NFC East title and Wild Card spot on tiebreakers Despite the ending to the seasona 35-34 loss to Dallas, a game in which the Redskins blew leads of 17-0 in the second quarter and 34-21 in the fourth quarterit looked like good times were just around the corner for this team. That turned out to be right, but it took Jack Pardee being fired after the following season and being replaced by Gibbs to make it happen. Three of their four low-scoring victories came on the road. They won 17-7 in St. Louis, 16-7 in Atlanta, and 13-9 in Cleveland. The Redskins also posted a 17-7 win at home against the Eagles. 19779-5, Lost Wild Card spot on tiebreakers This team posted the most low-scoring wins of any Redskins team since 1970. Six times George Allens last Redskins team managed to walk away with a win after putting up 17 points or fewer. The 77 Redskins couldnt get it done any other way. With an aging Billy Kilmer and a green Joe Theismann playing musical chairs at the quarterback position, the Redskins struggled on offense. They scored more than 17 points just three times. The Redskins started off 3-1 but after a midseason slump their record was 4-4. At the end of the year the Redskins went on a playoff drive, winning five of their last six. In only one of those wins did they score more than 17 points. As things turned out, however, they needed to put up a few more points. At 9-5, they lost out to the 9-5 Bears for the Wild Card spot based on net points scored. The low-scoring Redskins didnt have a chance. You will note that none of the Redskins strongest teams of the last 40 years such as the 1972 and 1983 NFC champions or the 1991 Super Bowls are on the list. But nobody expects the Redskins to be at that level yet. What this means for the 2010 is anyones guess. Are we looking at a cause (strong teams have the wherewithal to scrap out low-scoring wins) or an effect (mediocre teams that have good records because they can steal a few victories)? Well just have to wait and see how the rest of the season plays out.You can reach Rich by email