by Chuck Sapienza, special to Breaking Burgundy
It’s déjà vu all over again for the Washington Redskins. As the calendar flips to December and radio stations replace The Weeknd with "The Christmas Song," the 'Skins are in that all-too-familiar position. They must win in December if they want to make the playoffs. This should be nothing new for a franchise which has made nail-biting an art form. The Redskins play so many nail-biters, my right hand looks like Jason Pierre-Paul’s.
Since the 2005 season, the Redskins have qualified for the playoffs four times and have missed the postseason in seven. In those four playoff seasons, the Redskins' record in December/January was 18-2. In the seven seasons where they were home sipping eggnog and watching the playoffs on their 70-inch Samsung, they were 6-27. Sense a trend?
In their four playoff seasons, their record was spectacular in the games that meant the most:
They were dominant at the end of those seasons and needed every victory to make up for slow starts. Their only two losses were a one-point loss to Buffalo in the emotional game after Sean Taylor’s death and a three-point loss to Dallas on Dan Bailey’s 54-yard field goal at the buzzer. In other words, in their only two late-season losses, the Redskins were either tied or held the lead with 10 seconds remaining in both games. That is getting it done when it counts the most.
In the seasons where they did not qualify for the playoffs, those gutless Redskins teams all but quit after Turkey Day:
Six of their 27 losses in non-playoff seasons were by more than 20 points. You have to work hard to lose an NFL game by more than 20 points. I still have nightmares about the 2013 loss to Kansas City when Shanny's crew rolled over like a child making snow angels during a blizzard at FedEx Field. As you can see, there is no middle ground. They either kicked ass or quit, and this season will be no different. At least the Redskins won’t have to scoreboard watch this winter because they control their playoff destiny, beginning this Sunday in the Valley of the Sun.
It’s simple for the 2016 Redskins; Win and you’re in; lose and someone is getting fired.
Chuck Sapienza is the executive producer of the Naval Academy radio network and the former VP of Programming for ESPN980. He was also a part of the Washington Redskins Radio Network from 2009 to 2015, serving as the network's executive producer. He can be reached at SapienzaChuck@gmail.com
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