I came away from the Giants game full of optimism.
Maybe it's the particular offshoot of Stockholm Syndrome so typical among Redskins fans that had me excited for the Eagles game, but, whatever the reason, I thought Washington would at least keep it close. They obviously did more than that, beating a Philly squad who needed the win more than the Redskins did. Yet, Philadelphia also couldn't get out of its own way, racking up over 100 yards in penalties.
Robert Griffin looked decent (and only took two sacks, a minor miracle for this year's Redskins), DeSean Jackson made some big plays, Trent Williams played through pain (or, I guess, the lack thereof), and Bashaud Breeland made a game-changing interception late in the fourth that helped Washington prevail.
With a chance to end the season by completing a sweep of Dallas, there may still be a little bright spot in an otherwise-bad year in the form of a two-game winning streak against divisional rivals to end 2014. Before we get there, however, I thought I would deliver some more photos from a time when Washington was routinely still in the championship hunt at Christmastime.
In the first picture from Redskins '77 this week, the Redskins locker room, as a group, looks for a lost contact lens. Or possibly engages in a pre-game prayer. Whichever. It's unclear what game this is, although it's either a home game or against Dallas in Dallas, based on the uniform combination. Of all of the aspects of football that have changed since 1976, this is probably one of the elements that has changed the least.
This shot shows a disheveled Billy Kilmer after taking a sack against the Bears. Chicago was just decent in 1976, finishing 7-7. Yet, the Bears hung the worst loss on Washington that the Redskins would suffer all season. Chicago pounded the Skins 33-7, leading 27-0 at the end of the third, and 33-0 before Washington finally got on the board in garbage time. The Redskins gained a whopping total of 119 yards, and Kilmer and Joe Theismann were each ineffective.
Speaking of Kilmer and Theismann, here's another factoid from the artist-drawn bulletin board in Redskins '77. Amazingly, the Redskins led the NFC in touchdown passes in 1976 with 20 for the season. I say "amazing" because George Allen was known as a conservative, run-first-and-play-tough-defense coach.
The Redskins only threw the ball 38.7% of the time in 1976. That number wasn't as odd in the pre-1978 years as it would be today, but Washington was still a running team. They were also a team that used two quarterbacks - the aging Kilmer started nine games, Theismann five. Yet, despite both of those factors, Washington came out on top when it came to touchdown passes.
One last point to keep in mind: The NFL was still playing a 14-game schedule in 1976. It wouldn't switch to 16 games until that revolutionary year of 1978 I mentioned a moment ago. This means that throwing 20 TD passes in '76 would equate to a little south of 23 touchdown passes in a 16-game schedule. That still isn't a ton by today's measure, but it's important to remember the league played fewer games then.
Lastly, this action shot shows Eddie Brown breaking to daylight against the Philadelphia Eagles at RFK. This was a weird game. The Redskins came in at 7-4, needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Washington won 24-0 over the reeling Eagles, a much different margin than their first meeting, a 20-17 overtime win for the Redskins.
Despite the seeming blowout, though, the game was actually much tighter. The Redskins mustered only 206 yards, one of their lower totals of the season. But 72 of those yards came on three Kilmer touchdown passes, two of which went to Mike Thomas. For his part, Brown helped Washington's struggling offense with good field position created by his 99 total return yards (20 on one kickoff return, 79 on punt returns). Brown went on to lead the NFL in punt-return yardage in 1976.
That's it for this week - Merry Christmas, Beat Dallas, and whatever else may apply in your particular case.