Come Together?

When Tshimanza Biakabutuka scored with 12:58 to go in regulation, making the score 14-0, the Redskins seemed destined to go 0-6.

The offense had sputtered all day, while the Panthers' run game started to run down the defense. Then, LaVar Arrington intercepted a Chris Weinke pass, providing the momentum change the Redskins needed to win. From that point, Rod Gardner caught an 85-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. Brett Conway won the game in overtime with a 23-yard field goal, after barely missing a 32-yarder before the end of regulation. The Redskins scored seventeen unanswered points, winning a game they could have easily lost.

But can the team build off of Sunday's win?

The fact that the Redskins pulled Sunday's game out is amazing, especially with the turmoil that has surrounded the team this year. While it is easy to get caught up in the win (Hey, aren't we all?!?!), and easy to look back to 1981 for more hope, the Redskins still have some work to do. Overall, the offense looked horrible for the first three quarters. Everytime the offense did one thing right, they turned around and did ten things wrong. Tony Banks looked uncomfortable with the offense at times, missing open receivers and making several mistakes. Of course, his receivers did not help matters by dropping several passes. The defense did play a good game. The unit put pressure on Weinke, forced turnovers, and stopped the Panthers in the red zone twice. However, the defense allowed 342 yards in total offense and, again, allowed a running back to rush for over 100 yards. Yet, it did not matter. The defense bent, but it did not break.

Sunday's win did not look pretty by any means, but it felt sweet. The Redskins, for the last 14 minutes of playing time, played as a unified team determined to win. But is this the start of a respectable finish that was impossible to fathom as Sunday's win was when Biakabutuka scored? Its hard to say. After all, Sunday's win can be as much a product of the Panthers' ineptitude as it was the Redskins determination. Its up to Coach Marty Schottenheimer to take the energy from Sunday's game to try and improve his relations with the players. More importantly, its up to Schottenheimer to take Sunday's win and extend that unity and effort into next week's game against the Giants. That game will be a great test to see how the team responds to Sunday's victory. So will the remaining games on the schedule. Of the last 10 games the Redskins play, at least 4-6 games will be against playoff contenders.

It would be unfair to expect the Redskins to finish above .500, but after one win of today's magnitude, it might be possible for the team to finish the season on a respectable note. After all, Sunday's win is the kind of victory that can galvanize a team.

Hopefully, the Redskins have been galvanized.


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