The Washington Redskins ended their season on a familiar note: close, but not close enough, as they ended with a 6-10 record after losing to the New York Giants 17-14 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. on Jan. 2.

Washington got 336 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Rex Grossman, but his three turnovers helped create another frustrating offensive day for the ‘Skins. Washington’s defense held the Giants to just 17 points, but a mix-up in coverage at one point allowed the Giants’ Eli Manning and Mario Manningham to hook up on a 92-yard touchdown strike.

First Down: A Competitive Close

While their own playoff hopes expired weeks ago, Washington tried to play the role of spoiler against the Giants. With New York needing a win to stay alive in the postseason chase, the Redskins didn’t make things easy. After allowing 197 rushing yards in their Dec. 5 matchup, Washington allowed just 82 yards in the rematch. The Redskins had a chance to take the lead or tie on the last drive of the game, but Grossman couldn’t hook up with his intended receiver on fourth down.

The feat of taking a playoff hopeful down to the wire is something the team will try to build on as it enters the offseason. The Redskins had already spoiled one playoff hopeful’s season last week when they upended Jacksonville, 20-17. Since losing to New York 31-7 in their early December matchup, each of Washington’s last four games have been decided by three points or less.

Second Down: Building Blocks for Next Season

The jury is still out on running back Clinton Portis’ return to Washington next season and several expect quarterback Donovan McNabb to be elsewhere before summer begins. Therefore, Grossman and reserve running back Ryan Torain could take starring roles next year as Washington attempts to rebuild.

Grossman has proven he can steer the ship while the team grooms a signal caller for the future and Torain has performed better than advertised. The Redskins still may not rule out bringing in some fresh players to the positions, but the performance of both reserves gives the organization some time to plug other holes on the team, if it chooses.

Third Down: Home Not Home

Washington finished the season with a 2-6 record at FedEx Field, their worst home record since the 1994 season. Despite the futile performances, local fans were treated to some unbelievable football this year, from the season opener against Dallas to Michael Vick’s heroics to a laugher against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It was truly a season of highs and lows for the Redskins, evident by the mixture of boos and cheers ringing from the home crowd as Washington exited the field. The team is headed for a much-needed makeover and Washington may field its youngest team in years at the start of next season. If so, it will be important for the Redskins to perform better than six at home losses if they expect a better outcome next year.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO