My day ended yesterday with my wife looking at me and saying “you get to wear a ‘victory jersey’ tomorrow!”
I’m still in disbelief.
Saturday night was dreary, not quite raining, cold and the Caps had just lost to the Devils. I braced myself for another awful loss to a team that started off well (Denver went 5-0 to start the season), and was looking to rebound on the most charitable team in the NFL; the Washington Redskins (giving up more wins to winless teams than any other team in the league).
I slept in a little Sunday morning, and as I got dressed, I selected my Dexter Manley jersey from my closet. I’ve taken a lot of flak for still wearing jerseys on Fridays and game-days with the ‘Skins doing so poorly, but tradition is tradition.
As I moved to the front of the house, I realized the sun was out. I hadn’t seen the sun in four days. I’m not usually a big fan of the sun, but after four days of miserable drizzly rain, it was nice to have a break. I went outside and realized it was actually warm. Like mid-70’s warm.
If the ‘Skins were going to lose, at least it was going to be a nice day.
I settled in to watch pre-game on ComcastSportsnet. It’s become harder to watch as, well, the ‘Skins haven’t really done much worth talking about, and these guys have an hour and a half to fill. Who wants to watch an hour and a half of speculation about where things went wrong for this team this year? How many interviews with players talking about how hard they are working, and how disappointed they are in their team’s performance can you watch before your eyes begin to bleed?
Dan Snyder announced that morning that signs were going to be allowed in FedEx again (2 hours before game time when most people were already at the park) and the focus turned to this week’s patch-work offensive line combination. The news wasn’t any better as the team added a new guy to play the most important position on the line (left tackle) and moved Stephon Heyer (who had been struggling at both sides) back to the right tackle, next to Chad Rinehart who had been struggling in every game he played.
The Washington Post Live guys practically giggled at their witty predictions picking Denver to win big with the ‘Skins who would only score their maximum 17-points (the most they had scored in any single game all season).
The game started off with the Redskins blowing coverage and leaving Brandon Marshall wide open in the end zone. The guy could have made a pot of coffee while he waited for the ball to land easily in his hands with no defenders anywhere close; Broncos 7, Redskins nothing.
The Redskins’ first possession was a 12-play, 78-yard drive that led to a touchdown when Campbell connected with Yoder in the end zone. “Well that’s different” I said to myself, “the Redskins never score a touchdown in the first quarter”; Redskins 7, Broncos 7.
Denver get’s the ball back, and again, the Redskins forget about Brandon Marshall and leave him running down the sideline 75-yards for the touchdown with nobody close to him. “Damnit”; Broncos 14, Redskins 7.
“This is going to be a long game if the Redskins don’t figure out how to cover him,” I say to my wife; both of us have resigned ourselves to the ultimate fate that the Redskins will lose this game.
Second Quarter; fourth down for the Redskins and the field goal unit goes out on the field to try a 53 yard attempt. Zorn quickly calls a time-out, obviously upset about something as he flings his clipboard down to the ground. “It’s fourth and short,” I say to my wife, “we’re too close to punt, and too far for Suisham’s leg, they might as well go for it. Worst case is they turn it over at the 35.”
My wife, being smarter than I, pointed out that even if they punted it out of the end zone, the 20 is better than the 35.
The game comes back from commercial and the team is lining up for a 53 yard field goal attempt. My wife and I both become highly critical of this play-call. Go for it, or punt; Suisham will never make this.
Suddenly, Suisham lines up as a gunner as the team switches up into a punt formation. Denver begins to panic. They were lined up for a field goal block. They start changing their play to punt return when the Redskins snap the ball. Mike Sellers tears down the sideline all by himself, and Hunter Smith airs the ball out 35 yards to hit Sellers at the five and he dives in for the score! Unbelievable! The Redskins have scored another touchdown and tied the game!
Denver marches down the field 18 plays, 82 yards before the half, but can’t punch it into the end zone. On third down, Brian Orakpo lands on Kyle Orton awkwardly, and he limps off the field as Denver gets the go-ahead field goal.
My wife and I are waiting for the Broncos to drop the hammer in the second half. Washington get’s the ball first and does nothing with it. They punt it away. “They’re sending in Chris Simms!” I say.
“We victimized him in the playoffs back when he was with Tampa,” my wife responds, starting to get excited, “bring it!”
Simms never gets anything going, and for the the third quarter, it looks like the Redskins aren’t going to either. My wife’s father calls after the Redskins fail to convert on fourth down (with a stretch play to Rock Cartwright that loses yards) for a “WTF was that!” moment with his daughter.
The Redskins do manage to tie the game halfway through the fourth quarter when Suisham nets a 30 yard field goal. “How big is that failed fourth down now?” my wife asks rhetorically.
It’s still anybody’s game until Ladell Betts finally caps off a 60-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown push into the end zone. The ‘Skins have finally taken the lead by more than three points! Denver has just under three minutes to tie the game, they must score a touchdown and we are standing as we watch the final minutes tick by.
I’m waiting for the defense to give up the “big play” they always do when the team takes a lead, but it never comes.
Denver goes for it on 4th and 10 from their own 27, and the pass is incomplete to Brandon Marshall. The Redskins push the ball back to Denver’s 18 and Suisham nets a 35-yarder to put the game 10-points out of reach with 1:10 remaining.
They did it! The Redskins actually won a game against an opponent with a winning record! They won a game they were supposed to lose! They vicariously beat the Cowboys who had lost to this same Denver team earlier in the year. They restored hope to a city that was tearing itself apart!
We, like I’m sure most of you, tuned in to watch the Cowboys get nearly shut out by Green Bay. You can almost hear the chants of “we want Dallas” as the ‘Skins enter “Dallas Week.”
For six days at least, there is something that has been missing around Washington for a long time…there is hope!
I’m wearing Art Monk as my victory jersey today, and I’m wearing him proudly.
I want Dallas!