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Looking for meaning

Dec 26, 2005, 8:44 PM EDT

Looking for meaning
During a TV interview following the Redskins’ win over the Giants, Gregg Williams was informed that the Cowboys had come back to win their game against Carolina. That meant that the Redskins wouldn’t be able to have a playoff spot wrapped up until next week.

“I like the fact that we have to win next week,” said Williams. “I think that’s good for this football team. I don’t think we’ve accomplished nearly enough to be able to think that we can take a week off.”

You have to like that point of view and it makes perfect sense. Coaches are always looking for the extra edge to motivate their players and certainly the opportunity to keep playing and keep those paychecks coming in is as good and as practical as any incentive. If the Redskins had clinched this week, there is a chance that they would lose focus and intensity.

Next weekend’s schedule sets up perfectly from the perspective of Williams and, presumably, the rest of the coaching staff. There is no way that the game on Sunday at 4:15 will be rendered meaningless for the Redskins. While a Dallas loss would clinch a playoff spot for the Redskins regardless of the outcome of the game in Philadelphia, that game doesn’t kick off until 8:30 PM on Sunday. If that doesn’t keep the team focused on winning their game, nothing will.

The playoff seed possibilities are narrowing down for the Redskins. If they go 10-6 and win the NFC East, they will be the four seed. Seattle and Chicago have locked up #1 and #2 respectively. The winner of the NFC South will either have 11 wins or it will be Tampa Bay at 10-6 and the Bucs would get the higher seed due to their win over the Redskins.

If the Redskins win on Sunday to earn their playoff spot, they will be the five seed if Carolina loses at Atlanta and they will be the six seed if the Panthers win. If they manage to back in despite a loss on Sunday, they will be the six seed.

If Washington wins the division it will host either the Giants, Panthers, or Bucs. A Wild Card berth will earn a trip to one of those three teams.

Finishing up in style

In his first tenure here, Joe Gibbs’ teams were an impressive 8-3 in the 16th game of the season. On top of that, they never suffered a loss in the final game of the regular season that cost them a playoff spot. In 1991 they had wrapped up home field throughout the playoffs, so their loss to the Eagles was merely an exhibition. In 1987 the Redskins had been eliminated the previous week, so all their overtime loss to Cincinnati didn’t matter.

Only in 1992 did a final-game loss have playoff implications. Facing a win and in, lose and need help scenario going into a Saturday afternoon game against the Raiders, the Redskins came up short, losing 21-20. Fortunately, they got the help they needed the next day as the Packers lost and the Redskins were able to back in.

Big Blew

The New York writers didn’t take out the long knives on the Giants after the game nearly as bad as the press in Texas went after the Cowboys after their loss in Washington. Still, they don’t take losing lightly in the Big Apple. Here are a few tidbits from a column by Steve Serby in the New York Post.

This was the day the Giants should have made a loud statement – to the Redskins, to the 90,000 fans that shouted them down and cursed them, to all the other NFC teams with Super Bowl dreams. They were as quiet as church mice, and just as big, instead.

Little Blue shrunk to the occasion.

Big players play big in big games, and Big Blue was nowhere to be found.

Blue Christmas.Better yet,

Blew Christmas.

. . .

In the old days, you could always count on pride and toughness from the Giants defense. LT steaming around the corner against Joe Jacoby, with Leonard Marshall creating his own havoc on the opposite side. Harry Carson and John Riggins smashing mouths. Jim Burt nose-to-nose with the Hogs.

Little Blue yesterday.

“They just basically threw the ball up and had some fun with it,” Michael Strahan said.They threw a roadblock in front of sackless Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.

So many fingers of blame to point, so little time:

  1. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2005 at 6:52 PM

    Rich,
    Need some help on a trivia question. When was the last time the Redskins swept both the Cowboys and Eagles in the same season? I read that its been 17 years since a sweep of the Eagles, so it must have been a very, very long time since a sweep of both Eagles and Cowboys.
    Thanks

  2. Anonymous - Dec 27, 2005 at 8:05 PM

    Rich,
    I was able to find this information online. The answer: NEVER. It has NEVER happened in the history of the NFL that the Redskins have swept both the Eagles and Cowboys in the same season. Kind of scary when you think about it.

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