Picking an impossible fight
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
For years the Redskins have fundamentally misunderstood their place in the football world. It manifests itself in new, bizarre and self-defeating forms that you could never imagine.
But the Redskins topped themselves on Monday night when several of them went out of their way to pick a yelling, shoving match with the Eagles long before kickoff. Eventually both teams were one big scrum on the Eagles' sideline.
By the time the insults, curses and pushes had been broken up by officials, with some Redskins like DeAngelo Hall and Santana Moss still screaming as if they'd driven an enemy off their sacred turf, the Eagles went to their locker room with smoke coming out of their ears.
Like they say in the schoolyard, the Redskins started it, but the Eagles finished it. One play into the second quarter, the Eagles led 35-0.
In football, you can't absolutely prove causality. But that doesn't mean you can't believe in it. When you challenge a rival to a fight as well as a football game before the kickoff, then you better live up to your talk.
In a sense, it's estimable that the Redskins always feel they're on the verge of being vastly better than their actual record. But sometimes it helps to keep at least one foot grounded in reality.
The Redskins are a team that went 4-12 last year and should be trying earnestly to get to the vicinity of 8-8. Almost every win this season has been a last-second trauma for them. Their quarterback, Donovan McNabb, who signed a $78 million contract extension hours before the game, was traded away by the Eagles in April.
Meanwhile, the Eagles were an 11-5 team last season that came within a win of the NFC championship game. Since then, they have unleashed the rejuvenated, almost reborn Michael Vick, the highest-rated passer in the NFL.
In a lifetime of watching the Redskins, I have never seen them taken apart as suddenly and viciously as the Eagles dismantled them when they returned from their locker room to start the game.
The Eagles scored on their first five possessions, amassing 328 yards of offense. The Redskins went three-and-out on their first four possessions and gained 23 yards.
Perhaps more indicative of the Eagles' mind-set - or that of their pugnacious coach, Andy Reid - was the selection of disdainful go-for-the-jugular plays that they called as soon as they could get their hands on Washington.
On the first offensive play of the game, Vick hurled the ball 61 yards in the air for an 88-yard touchdown to DeSean Jackson. On their third play from scrimmage, the Eagles ran a successful double reverse. On the first play of the second quarter, Vick threw a 48-yard touchdown bomb to Jeremy Maclin.