But as Branch sat beneath an oversized television at Champps Americana in Arlington on Sunday and watched the Redskins thump Philadelphia, 31-6, he quickly forgot everything that had turned him off. The retired Army officer, who just one week prior had unplugged himself from football, had medicated himself against the real agony of being a Redskins fan with fictional drama, cheered his team’s most resounding win of the season and imagined out loud playoff scenarios involving Washington.
While the glow from the 110-inch screen danced across his face, the emotional flame inside of him that was recently almost snuffed out once again started to flicker.
“Today I can watch my Skins and feel good all day,” said Branch, a Southeast native who was back in the D.C. area visiting family. “We’re headed in the right direction.”
Quarterback Robert Griffin III was the catalyst for the Redskins’ best overall effort this season—and for Branch’s renewed optimism. The standout rookie and newly minted team captain completed a near-perfect 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and threw a career-best four touchdown passes at FedEx Field. He also ran the ball 12 times for 84 yards.
Before the bye week, the Redskins (4-6) were in last place in the NFC East. Now they are third in the division, just one game behind a Dallas team they will visit on Thanksgiving and two behind the Giants, who they play the following Monday night.
That is what has many fans thinking the Redskins are more than just mathematically alive for the playoffs. Inside a wobbly division in which no team has really taken control, the Redskins play four of their next six games against divisional foes and directly affect their own playoff destiny.
“Those teams on our schedule, they’re catchable,” said Rodney Murphy of Northeast. “You got RG. Anything’s possible.”
The Redskins, even in all their disarray, should have beaten up on Philadelphia. The Eagles (3-7) entered Sunday on a five-game losing streak and were playing for a coach who is sure to be fired by season’s end. They were without Michael Vick, who was held out on Sunday because of a concussion, and were calling on rookie Nick Foles to make his first NFL start.
Foles completed just 21 of his 46 passes behind a piece-meal offensive line and threw two interceptions.
One interception came on Philly’s first offensive possession of the game when cornerback DeAngelo Hall snatched a batted ball out of midair. That set up a six-yard touchdown pass from Griffin III to fullback Darrell Young.
Donté Tanner put down his fork inside Champps and started clapping.
“Turnovers. We don’t get too many of those,” said the Arlington resident who wore a white, personalized Skins jersey. “It’s a rare instance when D. Hall is doing what he’s supposed to be doing, no attitude or nothing.
“I know Philly’s undermanned or whatever. But I’ll take it. It’s still a W.”
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