Monday, October 10, 2005

Can a Loss Really be as Good as a Win?

Now that the pain of Washington’s heartbreaking two-point loss on the road against the Denver Broncos has faded a bit, the reality of the situation has set in: Ol’ Joe’s done it—the Redskins are a good football team again.
Yeah, it would’ve been nice if Mark Brunell had completed that two-point conversion pass to David Patten and sent yesterday’s game to overtime, but those things happen. The Redskins made too many mistakes throughout the course of the game and it finally caught up with them. Denver is a playoff-caliber team, and it should win at home (one of the toughest places in the league to play, by the way).
However, there are several positives for Redskins fans. For starters, the offense racked up nearly 450 yards against a rather stout defense. Brunell continues to look like he’s back from the dead, this time going for 300-plus and two touchdowns. Clinton Portis ran well against his former team with 103 yards on just 20 carries for a crisp five yards a tote. Also, except for two bonehead runs, the defense continued to play well despite more injuries in the secondary. (Please, can we put the LaVar Arrington talk to bed? Sure, I want him to play, but the “D” doesn’t seem to miss him that much. I’ll trust Gibbs and Gregg Williams over LaVar any day. When they feel he’s ready, then he’ll play. Until then, everyone, enough already—shut up.)
And, most importantly, Washington proved yet again that it is never out of a game—no matter how much time is left on the clock and how long the odds. If someone had told me a year ago that this season the Skins—with No. 8 under center—would be able to go 95 yards for a touchdown on their final drive and nearly pull even with the Broncos, I would have thought that person was crazy.
But after five weeks, get this: The Redskins are eighth in the league in offense and fifth in defense. … OK, now that you’ve picked yourself back up off the floor after that shocking realization, here’s another: There’s absolutely no reason the Washington Redskins shouldn’t make the playoffs.
Just look at the rest of the conference: The Redskins have already beaten the best team in the NFC West (Seattle); they’re certainly better than any of the four teams in the dreadful NFC North; they should be able to hold their own against either Carolina or Atlanta from the South; and, oh yeah, the Skins are still in first place in the East.
Brunell and Gibbs seem to get more and more comfortable with their surroundings week by week, and the improvements have shown on the field. There are several should-win games on their schedule, including San Francisco, Oakland, St. Louis and Arizona. If Washington simply goes .500 in the rest of its games, that gives the Redskins 11 wins this year. Hello, playoffs.
Sure, we’re only four games into the season and a lot can happen over the next three months. But after Washington’s first three “lucky” wins, everyone was still skeptical and wondering whether this team is for real or not.
Consider that question answered. Just ask the Broncos.

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