There have been complex, multi-scenario last-day finishes. And in 1939, the Redskins had a winner-take-all game against the Giants for the right to play for the world championship — but it was in New York.
So excuse the Redskins their jubilation. Or join it.
“Pandemonium at FedEx Field. The way you like it. It’s definitely going to be a playoff atmosphere,” said defensive back DeAngelo Hall, who invited the NFL to reschedule the game from 1 p.m. to the marquee 8:30 p.m. time slot in order to maximize television ratings (a decision they indeed made later Sunday night): “Let’s go ahead and flex this game. And we’ll make it real nice.
“Absolutely. We want to be the only show on TV. That’s a good feeling. Prime time, baby.”
Should the Redskins lose to Dallas, there are still ways they could make the playoffs, but only if multiple other teams lose. “Man, I just know we need to win next week,” said linebacker London Fletcher, dismissing all the permutations. “Tough life, tough game. You don’t get a chance to exhale.”
So, for the rest of the week, much of Washington will hold its breath.
The Redskins have had bigger games than their meeting with the Cowboys, including battles to see who would go to the Super Bowl. But after 20 years as the weakest of teams, by far, in the NFC East, this is the season, led by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, when the Redskins feel they can reverse that division dominance. Since ’91, the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants have gone to the playoffs 12, 11 and nine times respectively. The Redskins: three. Is the pecking order about to flip?
Just 35 days ago, the Redskins were 3-6 and couldn’t get the time of day. Now, they see omens of a different future wherever they look. The showdown with the Cowboys “is what makes the NFL great. All the guys are excited,” said nose tackle Barry Cofield, whose deflected pass led to an easy interception for Fletcher that set up the Redskins’ first touchdown.
“We have beaten some really good teams. We can beat anybody, we can surprise anybody, on any day,” Cofield said. “We’re not playing to make the playoffs. We’re playing to win the Super Bowl.”