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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com
I admit It's getting better
A little better all the time (it can't get much worse)
Yes, I admit it's getting better
It's getting better since you've been mine!
It wasn’t their best game of the year, not even their best of the month. They committed a dozen penalties for 137 yards, clunked on offense for most of the game, let Eagle receivers run open deep often, gave up six receptions to Terrell Owens, and put little pressure on Donovan McNabb.
Still, they almost pulled out a game against on the three best teams in football. Despite the penalties, Philadelphia converted just 3 of 13 third downs. Offense woes aside, the Skins held the ball for over 33 minutes. The Eagle receivers didn’t always catch the ball when they were open deep including one where Todd Pinkston developed one of the most severe cases of alligator arms ever seen when it appeared that the safety was bearing down on him (Pinkston might have to have surgery to remove his elbows from his rib cage, so severely did he yank his arms back to protect himself). Owens’ catches gained just 46 yards and McNabb was effective but hardly dominant.
If I believed in moral victories, I’d say this was one, but I don’t so I won’t. Still, while putting numbers in the left-hand column of the standing is what it’s all about, you can take some good out of a loss.
Still, when it came down to it, the Redskins didn’t get it done. Every week, you see teams turn a deficit into a lead in the last two minutes of the game. I’m just going off of memory here and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s been over five years since the Redskins did that. On October 3, 1999 Brett Conway booted a field goal in the dying seconds for a 38-36 win. Since then, the Redskins have taken the lead in tie games in the last two minutes and they’ve come from behind to tie it up in the late going, but they haven’t turned a loss into a win during crunch time in a half a decade.
Nobody on this team was playing for the Redskins that day (Jon Jansen is the only one left in the organization and, of course, he’s out with an injury). There’s no carryover, no legacy of pulling out the close ones. If this team is ever to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on a regular basis it will have to do it the hard way—they’ll have to learn it on their own.
Certainly, Gibbs and the coaches will help them learn how to win and a lot of the players who were with other teams recently played in games that their teams won in the dying seconds. That helps, but until they mesh as a team during crunch time and each player knows what the others are doing, it will be a hit or miss proposition.
Last night, it was a miss.
Yes, you Eagle fans who called my sanity into question when I predicted that the Redskins will win, I will examine my predictions and rate them, but that won’t happen until tomorrow. Also tomorrow, I will reveal how I voted for the Quarterback Club Redskins Player of the Year award.