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A Moral Victory, At Best

Let’s be honest: a 9-3 team led by Tom Brady (one of the two best QB’s in the game today) playing against a 4-8 team led by Rex Grossman (one of the five worst starting QB’s in the league today) shouldn’t have been a close contest. My primary concern going into yesterday’s game was whether the Redskins would lose by “only” 30+ points, or would it be 40+ points. That’s how much (or how little) I thought of the team’s chances yesterday.

Or, to put it another way: if someone handed me a free ticket to the game, I would have sold it (although I would have made sure the buying party was a Redskins fan; the amount of fair-weathered bandwagon Patriots fans at the stadium yesterday was disgusting, though quickly becoming par for the course at this mausoleum of Redskins fandom known as “FedEx Field”).

You could argue that the shockingly-close outcome of yesterday’s game had more to do with the Patriots appallingly-porous defense as it did the Redskins efficiency on offense. For a team deep in the playoff hunt, playing for a division title and potential first round bye in the postseason, yesterday’s performance by the Patriots defense was downright laughable.

If you’re a real Patriots fan (and let’s be clear: that pretty much exempts everyone outside of the greater Boston area), you should be embarassed by the way your team played. You simply have no excuse for allowing a team with the 2nd worst rushing attack in the NFL, an offensive line featuring two rookies (a 7th round pick and an undrafted free agent) and a guy just signed off the street, and a backfield tandem of 4th and 6th round picks, to gash your defense for 170 yards rushing. Rex Grossman spent most of the day carving up your zone defense, with three different Redskins receivers breaking 80 yards receiving on the afternoon; the last time the Redskins pulled that off was When “The Posse” (Art Monk, Gary Clark, and Ricky Sanders) did it in 1990, over two decades ago.

But I can already anticipate the argument from the legions of blind Brady-loving, meaningless rhetoric-touting Patriots fans, who probably didn’t even know this team existed even during the Bill Parcells & Drew Bledsoe era(s): “We still won the game.”

And it’s true. The Redskins took to it to a team that many believe will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, giving them everything they could handle (and then some). But at the end of the day, that’s not even worth the paper the box score of the game is printed on. Moral victories don’t show up in the W-L columns or statistical record books. The Patriots scored 34, and the Redskins scored 27.

Sure, it’s nice to see that this team hasn’t given up, even after losing several games, by embarassing margins to teams that should never have beat them to that extent & severity. But at this point in time, it’s too little and too late. It’s frustrating on one hand, because you could make the argument that, the way the Redskins have played the last few weeks, if they got a rematch against teams like Miami or Buffalo, the results could’ve been very different.

But then again, if my aunt had balls, she wouldn’t be my aunt anymore, now would she?

Still, the Redskins offensive output over the last few weeks could be as good as it has been at any point in the Shanahan regime. They did what they were supposed to do, and what you’d expect a Shanahan offense to do: carve up a secretly porous defense, both in the air and on the ground, all game long. For large portions of the game, it almost seemed like the better team on the field, but they quickly quelled that mirage either through committing stupid penalties or self-induced mistakes, or getting outright jobbed by the referres (London Flecther’s supposed unnecessary roughness pentality on Tom Brady was the most egregious and heinous case of favoritisim I’ve seen in 24 years of watching NFL football).

In the end, the contingent of Redskins fans rooting for this team to lose every remaining game, so as to secure the highest possible draft selection, were the only fans in Washington who could officially claim a victory yesterday. This contingent only seems to be growing with every Redskins loss, and they’re doing little (if anything) to hide this sentiment.

While the Indianapolis Colts have all but wrapped up the Andrew Luck sweepstakes (they’re 0-13, and with two more virtually-inevitable losses, they’ll secure the #1 overall pick in the 2012 draft), many of those Redskins fans watched the Heisman trophy presentation on Saturday night, and began dreaming of the uber-talented, resilient, intelligent, thoughtful, and well-spoken Robert Griffin III as Washington’s “Quarterback of the Future.”

But overall, all we could take away from yesterday, and from this current team in it’s current state, is that it’s good enough to really scare some teams, but not good enough to beat the vast majority of them.

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