The last time the Redskins lost eight straight

December 23, 2013

(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The Redskins have lost seven straight games, which isn’t necessarily ground-breaking. They lost seven straight to start the 1998 season, lost seven straight in 1994 to go from 2-6 to 2-13, and lost seven straight in 1963 to go from 2-1 to 2-8.

But the losing streak that spanned the 1960-61 seasons was far more epic; Washington lost the final eight games of the 1960 season to finish 1-9-2, and then lost the first nine games of a 1961 campaign that ended 1-12-1. That made 17 total.

(You’re going to hear more about that 1961 season in the coming days. Unless Washington outscores the Giants by 10 points this weekend, the Redskins will finish with their worst point-differential since being outscored by 218 in that 1961 fiasco.)

I just looked back at the stories describing Washington’s ninth straight loss to start the 1961 season, which weren’t particularly remarkable or filled with vitriol. But this decision made by then-coach Bill McPeak is so amazing that it merits a blog item.

The Redskins wound up losing to the Browns 17-6 to fall to 0-9, and the score was the same late in the fourth quarter. From Jack Walsh’s gamer:

To many in the crowd, the 12-point underdog Redskins who lost by 11 appeared to be conceding with about 3:50 left when they had fourth down and three yards to go at their 46 and punted, despite being two touchdowns behind.

Coach Bill McPeak vigorously defended his strategy after the game.

“I’d do it another 50 times if I had 50 chances,” he said. “My thinking was that if we had gone for it and failed to make it, we would really have been giving up the game. A lot can happen in the last couple of minutes.”

A lot did happen. Cleveland didn’t even fall back for the punt, fearing a ruse. And the Redskins didn’t get the ball until there was only a half minute to go. Three long ones by Snead were incomplete and Norman was dumped at the Redskins 24 by Paul Wiggin at game’s end.

Down by 12, fourth-and-short near midfield, less than four minutes left, and he punted? And he wasn’t fired immediately? Were I the owner, I would have stopped the game, fired him, and put the punter and/or band leader in charge. Of course, I don’t exactly understand when’s a good time to fire a flailing Redskins coach.

Shirley Povich also wrote about the incident.

The Redskins had the ball again at midfield with 3 1/2 minutes to play and went into punting position on fourth down with three to go. The crowd pleaded for them to chance the first down, but was overruled by the Redskins’ coaches.

The next time the Redskins got the ball, the clock showed 39 seconds and a great need for some kind of a 12-point maneuver that could pull the game out. Nobody could think of anything of the kind, so they lost their 17th straight.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Sarah Kogod · December 23, 2013