Just when it seemed like it couldn't get any worse, the Washington Redskins broke the hearts of their fans once again. Unfortunately, I am one of those fans and this one ranks right up there with some of the horrible losses fans from the MD/DC/VA area have suffered through over the years. This meltdown goes right up there with Maryland beating Duke by 10 with 54 seconds left in regulation and losing in overtime. It's up there with the Jeffrey Maier catch in game 1 of the 1996 ALCS between the Yankees and the Orioles. And for me, this one is up there with Mario Manningham's touchdown catch with two seconds left to win the game over Penn State in 2005.
It couldn't have happened in a more gut-wrenching way. Although I kept telling my brother and my roommate that no matter how good we looked we were still going to lose (out of pure pessimism), it was still extremely painful. It was even more agonizing being a Redskins fan and living in Brooklyn.
Living in New York, I was forced to watch the riveting Eagles-Falcons game on FOX with Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Michael Jenkins, Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson all out due to injuries. I was forced to watch the Redskins game on my small laptop screen. I was forced to restrain myself from jumping up and down so I wouldn't damage my computer. And I was forced to sit in silence, helpless, after watching each unusual play occur one after the other on a blurry computer screen.
Certain things happened in this game that I have never seen before in any football game and each peculiar play went against Washington. Of course, there were the usual dropped interceptions that could have completely changed the game in the first half. But the Redskins drop easy interceptions every game -- Redskins fans are used to seeing that.
But when Kareem Moore actually did pick off a Drew Brees pass, it was too good to be true. It was a pass that Drew Brees shouldn't have even been able to throw under heavy pressure. Brees threw it about 20 yards right in the middle of the field off his back foot. Moore leaped over Jeremy Shockey, cradled the ball and decided to get up and run with it. Although I started to scream, "TAKE IT ALL THE WAY," I knew in the back of my mind that something bad was about to happen.
Wide receiver Robert Meachem chased Moore down, broke through a couple of blocks and simply took the ball back out of Moore's hands. Meachem made it look easy. He ran it back for a touchdown and nobody but the Saints could believe what had just happened.
It couldn't have been legal. That doesn't happen in the NFL. It had to be called back. Maybe Moore was down by contact?
(Side Note: All of this happened after a bad Saints possession in which they were forced to punt. The ball sailed through the air, hit Redskins rookie Kevin Barnes in the back as he was ducking and covering like elementary schoolchildren did back in the 1950s when there was a possibility of a nuclear war. The Saints recovered the muffed punt with amazing field position.)
But it gets worse. Even after the play was challenged and upheld, coach Jim Zorn called a timeout before the extra point attempt, meaning that the Redskins weren't even prepared enough to just get on the field for a routine extra point attempt. That was an embarrassing way to end the half.
Washington opened the second half with 10 straight points -- just like the first half. The defense played well enough to hold the potent Saints offense to just three points in the third quarter, stopping them on a crucial fourth-and-one in Redskins territory. Jason Campbell even led the offense down the field and converted that turnover into seven points with another touchdown pass to Devin Thomas. After a New Orleans field goal, the Redskins were suddenly up 30-23 over a team that had not lost a game yet this season.
It started to become too perfect to be real. First, Devin Thomas returned the kickoff for 39 yards. Then Campbell found Mike Sellers for 16 yards. Then a terrible screen pass somehow turned into a 15-yard gain after a face mask penalty was called on Saints cornerback Chris McAlister. Six plays later, the Saints had called all of their timeouts, the Redskins were on the 4-yard line and Shaun Suisham was getting ready to kick a 23-yard field goal on fourth down. The Redskins were about to have a 10 point lead with under two minutes left, a seemingly insurmountable lead, even for the Saints.
Everything was so perfect that FOX switched to the game in the middle of this drive so I wasn't forced to watch it on my computer anymore.
Just before the Redskins lined up to kick the field goal, my roommate turned to me and said, "Well we should have some beers now right?" He went on and explained that since both our teams won big games, we had a reason to celebrate. And who was he kidding? He was absolutely right. He turned to me and handed me a beer.
But, knowing the team I have watched and loved my entire life, I calmly replied, "Hold on. The game isn't over yet." It's always best to just wait until there is no time left on the clock before celebrating.
Then it all began to unravel. Suisham missed wide right. FOX actually turned back away from the game to show the Giants play the Cowboys. I raced to my computer, tried loading the game back up, and before I knew it, Brees had thrown a 53-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. It all happened so fast. To top that off, Campbell threw an interception after just three plays when there was plenty of time to get in field goal range and possibly win the game. I couldn't move.
The game went into overtime and the Redskins actually won the toss.
But, in the middle of just the third play of overtime, Sellers caught a short pass, got his legs taken out from under him and fumbled. Although he was rule down by contact, Sean Peyton called a timeout so the booth could review it and the refs gave the Saints the ball with great field position (I still think his arm was down). All of it happened so fast.
However, the ending seemed like it lasted days. From that point on, it was a slow and painful death. The Saints threw it down field. Then, just when everyone thought they were going to kick a field goal, the Redskins called a timeout and the Saints put their offense back on the field. That actually happened twice until New Orleans reached the 1-yard line and kicked the winning field goal.
It was over.
After the game, Drew Brees used words like "destiny" and "karma" to describe the win that kept New Orleans undefeated. He even went onto say the Saints have "been on the other side of this deal probably too many times."
Did I miss something? Since when have the Saints suffered a defeat like this one with Drew Brees as their quarterback?
Fluke plays like the ones in this game only happen to teams who have hit rock bottom. Challenges don't go the other way even when the arm was down. Shanked punts don't transform into amazing field position for the team that punted the ball. Kickers don't miss 23-yard field goals. A defender doesn't intercept a pass, have a receiver for the other team run them down, steal the ball away and take it back for a touchdown.
Only teams that have hit rock bottom suffer defeats like this. Teams can hit rock bottom in a couple of ways. Going 0-16 like the 2008 Detroit Lions is one way. Rock bottom is where the Cleveland Browns are right now -- only winning one game so far this season with a final score of 6-3 over the Bills.
The Washington Redskins have created a new way of reaching rock bottom. Even when the team is playing its best football of the season, with a handful of key starters sidelined due to injury -- getting within a 23-yard field goal to put the game away against an undefeated team; that rock-bottom team still finds a way to lose.
In Washington's case, the entire organization has reached this embarrassing point. Besides the actual team on the field, the owner sued the fans. The Vice President of Football Operations has made one horrible decision after another. Discussions about boycotting the team are beginning. Going to FedEx field is more of a hassle than a fun experience. This is rock bottom.
But there actually is one good thing about hitting rock bottom -- it can only get better from here... right?