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The more things change...

By Box Seats blogger

By Stephen L. Carter

My most painful moment as a Redskins fan came on November 15, 1970. I was an eleventh grader in Ithaca, New York, a town where nearly everybody rooted for the Giants. That Sunday, the two teams met in New York. Sonny Jurgensen played brilliantly, completing passes to Charley Taylor and Charlie Harraway seemingly at will. The Washington defense picked off Fran Tarkenton twice on the way to a 33-14 lead after the third quarter. Five minutes into the fourth quarter, we still held that 19-point lead.

Then things began to unravel. Fast.

The Redskins offense suddenly sputtered. Tarkenton turned into a magician. The lead fell to 12, then to 5, and finally, as the game wound down, Ron Johnson ran for the winning touchdown.

Washington had surrendered three touchdowns in eight minutes, and all I could do was sit in my father’s study in Ithaca, watching with a sense of helpless dread, wishing that someone, somewhere would do something to stem to the tide.

I felt something similar toward the end of the Lions game on Sunday, when the Redskins, after playing horribly all day, struggled back to take the lead, only to collapse as Detroit ran off 17 points in less than two minutes. It didn’t feel quite as bad, because we were never ahead by 19. On the other hand ... 17 points in one minute and forty-six seconds?

At least that awful 1970-71 team could move the ball. The Redskins finished with a losing record, but Larry Brown ran for over 1,100 yards and Jurgensen threw for 23 touchdowns – this, remember, in a season of only 14 games. In fact, Jurgensen had a ratio of 2.3 touchdowns per interception. That’s not easy. Only four Redskins starting quarterbacks in the past twenty years have duplicated the feat of throwing twice as many touchdowns as interceptions over the course of a season. (One of them now plays for Oakland.)

My point is that we can’t blame the Washington defense, porous though it sometimes has been, for these embarrassing losses. The offense has trouble sustaining drives more than once or twice a game. We can’t run out the clock. We hit a bomb now and then but can’t complete passes to possession receivers. (We are 31st in the league on third-down conversions.) We can’t pass block, and we can’t run block.

I know that as a true fan, I’m supposed to be complaining that with a couple of breaks, we’d be 6-2 instead of 4-4. What I really think is that without a couple of breaks, we’d be 1-5. I am starting to worry that maybe some of the players think so, too.

By Box Seats blogger  | November 1, 2010; 3:21 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins, Stephen L. Carter  | Tags:  Redskins, Stephen L. Carter  
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