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Dec 27, 2004, 2:21 AM EDT

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Dog bites man. The federal budget deficit soars. Dallas beats Washington.

Midway thorough the fourth quarter, it seemed as though 72-point headline news was about to me made. The Redskins were on the verge of beating the Cowboys and a bunch of bad streaks and jinxes were on the verge of vanishing. The 1-13 against Dallas, Gibbs 0-7 vs. Parcells, the Redskins not having won this year without Clinton Portis rushing for 100 yards or turning the ball over more than once or having trailed at any point during a game.

If you want to see the difference between even Joe Gibbs’ most mediocre teams in his first go-around here, you need look no further than here: Starting with 5:26 left to play, three times the Redskins had their hands on the ball with a chance to salt a four-point lead away. One time Antonio Brown fumbled a punt away. The other two times they went three and out.

Without looking it up, I’d venture to say that in the 184 regular-season games that Gibbs coached from 1981 through 1992 and in the 21 playoff games in that time span, they never had three chances to put a win away and failed to do so. I’d do the research, but I’m so sure that I’ll challenge anyone out there to prove me wrong. Certainly on some occasions they blew one offensive chance to protect a lead of more than a field goal with less than five and a half minutes to play. Maybe a handful of times they had two chances to finish off a team and couldn’t do it. But three, never.

You can only ask a defense, even a very good one, to get it done so many times.

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