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Skins Openers, 2002-2003

Smoot prepares for the 2003 opener. (By Jonathan Newton - TWP)

Continuing the D.C. Sports Bog's special seven-and-a-half hour kickoff show. I can actually smell the Meadowlands at this point.

Were the Spurrier years fun? Not so much. But he did provide two season-opening home wins, which sort of goes to the earlier point: season openers do not a season predict, no matter how many special kickoff t-shirts are for sale.

Also, how could I have forgotten that the Redskins have scored 16 points in four of their last five season-openers, and yet have gone 4-1 in that span. Tonight? 16-15. Lock it.

2003: Redskins beat the Jets, 16-13 (OT)

WaPo gamer lede:
Randy Thomas and Laveranues Coles sprinted out of the tunnel ahead of their Washington Redskins teammates to the roar of the sellout crowd at FedEx Field. Minutes before kickoff, spectators wildly waved burgundy-and-gold flags emblazoned with the Redskins' logo. When the players got near the 50-yard line, they bounced to the rhythm of the cheers. But Coles kept leaping higher as if on a pogo stick, raising his hands and staring at the opposing sideline.

The excitement was palpable for the NFL's regular season opener between the New York Jets and Washington Redskins. But Coles's visceral response before the game affirmed the story line: During the offseason, the Redskins poached the Jets, signing four of their top players, including Coles, a wide receiver, and Thomas, an offensive tackle.

And it was another former Jet, John Hall, who booted a 33-yard field goal with five seconds left, giving his new team a stirring 16-13 victory.

Jessie Armstead: "We could not have written a better script. It was a bestseller."

John Hall: "It doesn't take a genius to figure out that was special."

Steve Spurrier: "Thank goodness for John Hall. Thank goodness Mr. Snyder went out and got us a heck of a kicker. With our kicking situation last year, I don't see us winning that game....Somehow we found a way to win a 16-13 game. I told somebody, 'I'm learning to coach in the NFL.' Winning 16-13 is better than losing, that's for dang sure."

Chad Morton: "I wanted this win so bad, to be able to go out and taunt that team and have the upper hand over them."

LaVar Arrington: "Everybody said we wouldn't be able to do it, to stop the run. People were saying they were going to come in and smash mouth us, ram the ball down our throats. We rose to the challenge. I think it was something we knew were capable of doing all along."

Randy Thomas: "It's been a happy ending."

2002: Redskins beat Arizona, 31-23

WaPo gamer lede: The Washington Redskins were every bit as dynamic, unorthodox and, most importantly, victorious as they had hoped to be yesterday in Coach Steve Spurrier's debut. Spurrier blended the running of tailback Stephen Davis with the throwing of quarterback Shane Matthews as the Redskins beat the Arizona Cardinals, 31-23, before a franchise-record crowd of 85,140 on a sun-drenched afternoon at FedEx Field.

Spurrier didn't disappoint in one of the most eagerly awaited NFL head coaching unveilings in recent memory. He had the Redskins begin the game in a no-huddle offense, even keeping it while converting a fourth-and-one gamble in the second quarter. He had backup quarterback Danny Wuerffel take a second-half kickoff in place of injured place kicker Brett Conway, and he cut the middle finger of his right hand while ripping off his headset in frustration following one of two fourth-quarter holding penalties on his standout tackles.

In the end, Spurrier did what Redskins owner Daniel Snyder expected him to do upon signing Spurrier to a five-year contract worth nearly $ 25 million after the coach resigned from the University of Florida in January: He won.

Steve Spurrier: "We had a few bad plays here and there, but we had a lot of good ones too."

Shane Matthews: "It was a dogfight, like it is every week in this league....It was a good win, the first win, and we're all excited."

Fred Smoot: "We let everybody know we're playing to win by whatever means are necessary."

LaVar Arrington: "Look, maybe I'm just having a bad day or maybe I'm being overly critical when I shouldn't. But to me, we allowed entirely too many points. This isn't the way it's supposed to be. Everybody around [town] is talking about the playoffs and the Super Bowl....We have all got to have a sense of urgency here. There's all this hype over our head coach, our defensive coordinator, our linebackers....People are going to be ready to play us every single week. The offense put up 31 points, but we allowed them to stay close enough to tie the game at the end? I was looking for a more impressive victory."

Michael Wilbon: "Steve Spurrier thinks that before long the hype surrounding him and the Fun 'n' Gun offense will die down, that the TV crews visiting from Florida will go home, that people around here will soon enough become matter-of-fact about him, his offense, his play-calling and his flair for producing the dramatic. But it won't subside at all if the Redskins keep playing like they did yesterday."

Steve Spurrier: Right before the game, I said to [defensive coordinator] Marvin Lewis, 'You're probably used to this.' He said, 'Coach, you never get used to it.' "

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 4, 2008; 1:59 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Giants Stadium: Good Spots Still Available


Damn, I forgot (or don't remember) they wore white-on-white in '03

Posted by: joeblazin | September 4, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | September 4, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

this is too funny.... great stuff!!!!!!!!

Posted by: jimmy h | September 4, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I friggin HATE Spurrier!!

Posted by: Monkman63 | September 4, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

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