Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why It's Obvious the Skins Will Be Back (and had a great season)

As we continue to follow these now-Redskin-less, anyone-but-Dallas (please God, anyone but Dallas) playoffs (aka, The Race To Lose To the Patriots), and as we continue to mourn yesterday’s really, really close-to-victorious playoff game, let’s look at what was positive about the loss, this season, and what it means for the future.

To use a cliché that’s only slightly less overdone than “The 12th Man”, the game was much closer than the unfeeling 35-14 final would tell us. It was shades of Dallas 2005 as the Redskins found the end zone twice in the fourth quarter after listing behind 13-0. A 14-13 final score on the road, capped by the furious two-touchdown comeback, seemed imminent. But then it looked even better. 21-13 or better seemed more imminent as the Seahawks forgot how to field a kickoff.

Alas, here Fate fell asleep at the wheel and looked away for a moment and forgot that these Redskins were supposed to be destined for Dallas, Green Bay, and beyond. It was nothing more than a mistake, a glitch in the fabric of the universe, that turned two passes from the previously un-interceptable Todd Collins into Seattle touchdowns. It was nothing more than karma error that pushed a Shaun Suisham chip shot a little to the side to kill Washington momentum and give it back to the Seahaws and their flags-with-“12”-on-them waving fans.

In the end, it’s ok. It was a more-than-spirited run to the playoffs, one so unexpected and marvelous that even the most die-hard optimism-hater and Fire-Joe-Gibbs-promoter had to stop and admire it. And speaking of that once-embattled coach, it would seem he has earned a respite from the constant talk of “should he come back.” In pulling a team out of a tailspin in the way that DCO-supported Glen Hanlon could not, Gibbs validated those of us who desperately pleaded and believed he could still do it, that he could get past brain-deadening double timeout calls and lead a team again.

Gibbs will be back next year, and if the comments of Clinton Portis are any indicator, the core of the team will be back too (even if it does require the massive salary restructuring the team has never shied away from). Part of that core is LaRon Landry, a draft selection looking more and more brilliant with each postseason interception and each big hit that does not end with a 15-yard penalty (really lucky for the Seahawks that they were able to make that incidental/accidental contact to wipe out his INT TD return, wasn’t it?). It’s perhaps a tad too early to make those comparisons to 21, but even if it is, the time for such comparisons is not far off.

The Redskins will bounce up from this playoff knockdown the way they bounced up from the teammate murder and all the other relative catastrophies that beset them this year to make the playoffs. They’ll bounce back up the way Portis did when he momentarily seemed destined for offseason surgery as he writhed on the turf in the fourth quarter. A second straight offseason of important (yet sensible, draft-pick-saving and non-roster-blowing-up) moves, combined with a newly focused, inspired, and bonding coaching staff and roster will put this team solidly in contention for an NFC East title, knocking Romo and the Boys from their media-heralded perch.

Speaking of the Cowboys, it must now be the focus of all our ‘tism-loving efforts to see them gruesomely knocked from these playoffs. A stain like Tony Romo must not be permitted the spotlight of a Super Bowl (he gets plenty enough of that spotlight as it is, every time he flashes that Peter-King-melting smile or stars in an inane Pepsi commercial). It will be a necessary evil next weekend to root for the Giants. It might also be necessary to cheer their victory today over the Bucs, for New York is likely better equipped to deal with Dallas than the how-are-they-in-the-playoffs Buccaneers.

A record of 9-7, a sixth seed in the playoffs, and a first round exit might not exactly have been what we expected back in those typically heady spring days, but considering everything that went down since then, we’ll definitely take it. We’ll always have that 27-6 clinching win over a Dallas squad supposedly bent on playing the spoiler (then spun into really being an uninterested playoff-bound starter-rester). And we’ll always have that moment of 14-13 that looked like it just might be turning into the season of destiny we all thought it was meant to be all along.

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