The details can be parsed, and in some corners they will be over the course of the holiday week. But the particulars, at this point, hardly matter. It was the Redskins’ sixth straight loss. Six games remain in the season. So the most meaningful questions surrounding the franchise over the holidays are: Will there be another victory this year? Is the right leadership in place? And, when’s the draft?
“It’s difficult, man,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said afterward in a locker room that was quiet enough to hear the zipping of equipment bags. “We . . . shoot, I don’t know. It’s just difficult.”
There are, by now, very few reasons for veteran players to offer detailed dissections, because at some point one season blends into another, and the losses become almost indiscernible. The difference this year: With two-time Super Bowl winner Mike Shanahan in his second season as head coach, and with offseason moves that addressed several weaknesses on defense, players and coaches were palpably optimistic two months ago, particularly after winning three of their first four games.
Now, the team is in the midst of its longest losing streak since 1998 — the longest of Shanahan’s 18 seasons as a head coach — and a peek toward 2012 seems appropriate.
“I’ve never been part of a losing streak like this,” defensive captain London Fletcher said. “I know a lot of guys have never been a part of this. I know Coach Shanahan hasn’t been part of this.”
To be sure, for one of the few times all season, there were developments worth cheering Sunday. The offense, which had scored just one touchdown in the previous three games combined, managed an efficient fourth-quarter drive to tie the game with 14 seconds left, and produced more points than it had all year. Quarterback Rex Grossman, back in the starting lineup for the second straight game, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.
Had place kicker Graham Gano converted either of two missed field goals — including a 52-yarder in overtime — the losing streak could have been over, and the focus could have been on some unexpected improvements.
“I’d rather talk about silver linings on Wednesday or something,” Grossman said. “It’s just frustrating right now.”
But Sunday’s loss will nestle into a season that puts Washington’s glory years further behind, and becomes part of a growing legacy of disappointment. At the Redskins’ Ashburn training facility, three Super Bowl trophies still sit prominently in a display case in the lobby. But the last of those arrived after the 1991 season. The kids who sat with parents in the stands Sunday have only heard tell of them, even as jerseys throughout the stands — Theismann and Green, Riggins and Monk, greats long since come and gone — showed there are those who remember when.