1. I suppose it should have been clear right from the beginning. As much as I had hoped and prayed that the Redskins would refrain from slipping and falling out of the gate, Dustin Hopkins...slipped and fell during the kickoff. RIGHT...DURING...THE...KICKOFF. I feel confident that I speak for legions of Redskins fans when I say that my reaction was, "Whelp, that is pretty much about right."
2. I am reminded of all the people who told me the win over the Saints meant nothing. New Orleans is a terrible team with an historically awful defense, they said. I was told I could not claim it as a big win because it simply was not a "quality win." I only bring this up because the SAME PEOPLE have spent the last however many hours trashing the Redskins and their loss to the Carolina Panthers. Let me be very clear: you CANNOT take issue with our win over New Orleans and then FAIL to put the loss to Carolina into context. The Panthers are undefeated. They are talented, physical and every bit the contender you would expect an undefeated team to be. On Sunday, they were the more talented, more physical team, and as a result, they remained unbeaten. This isn't to suggest I thought the Redskins "should have won" that game--although I thought they had a chance going into the contest. All I am saying is that people can't bitch and moan that a win isn't good enough one week and then the next week bitch and moan that the loss is too much.
3. Listen, there are few things that sum up who the Washington Redskins are better than this: 4-6. 'Nuff said.
4. While we pick up the pieces from playing and losing to the second undefeated team we have faced in three games, there is something that bears mentioning: first place in the NFC East is on the line this week against the New York Giants. Suck it up, everyone! It's time to brush off the loss. We have to do that quickly, because the New York Giants are a team that deserve to see the team that destroyed the Saints. I am eager to put the home record to the test. I am eager to see if we can continue to protect the ball at home like we can't seem to do on the road. I am eager to get back into the dirty, filthy mess that is the NFC East. Postseason chances don't exactly grow on trees around here, and those chances are every bit on the line this Sunday.
5. I can't do this today without bringing up "the penalty." Oh my...listen, I get it. Like many of you, I have read and heard from smart people who know more than I do that the rule was properly enforced. That doesn't mean it is not COMPLETE AND TOTAL HORSESHIT! Based on the read of the rule, and the fact that the liability rests with the defender when it comes to where a receiver is contacted, it would seem a referee could throw that flag on just about every play. Offensive players routinely change their body angles and positions--often milliseconds before contact. Think about on how many plays you see that? Think about how many times you see a safety or linebacker bearing down on a ballcarrier and then launching for a tackle right as the ballcarrier turns in or turns out or noses down to the ground. The fact that a referee decided to throw a flag on that play for that rule interpretation is part of what makes it so hard to swallow. As the referees deliberated over what to call on that play, all the terrible fan moments I've had in recent memory came bubbling back up: watching Lebron cry for, and get, every call in those early playoff series between the Wizards and Cavs; every call Duke got that Maryland didn't in countless battles; and of course every ball that bounced the wrong way when my favorite team in burgundy and gold literally couldn't get out of its own way. In short, my loins have been somewhat girded for this moment. Still...
6. So much of the game now is analyzed, judged and defined by slow-motion, high definition video that coaches, players and analysts pore over in forward and reverse. The right answer is searched for under a hood while a referee painstakingly studies every frame of a replay. I don't think anyone is seeking a way to make games longer by making plays like this one reviewable, yet, in HD slo-mo, it was CRYSTAL CLEAR THAT THE PENALTY WAS A TOTAL JOKE. What else can you ask a defender to do? Greg Olsen caught the ball, looked up and then lowered his head to cause the penalty on Chris Culliver. Sure, it was only discernible in replay, but SO IS ALL THE OTHER REVERSIBLE CRAP THAT COMES OUT OF HAVING REPLAY REVIEW!! It was a scoring play for God's sake. Shouldn't that be when the league really goes all out to ensure the best decision gets made? It is hard to argue this penalty today given the final score, but we are talking about a huge moment in a very competitive game (to that point, haha). I think the game would have gone differently from that point, but there is zero chance I would ever suggest that this penalty is the reason why we lost. That said, it was rather soul-crushing to see one of the better plays made by a player who is gutting it out despite being injured be negated at the worst possible moment. It was a real low moment this season. That will only make beating the Giants that much more of a high!