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Blognostications

Week 16 - @ Jacksonville Jaguars

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Blognosticator - Elephant

Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I was accustomed to the final game or 2 of the season being a playoff type atmosphere for Redskins fans. If we had not earned a playoff spot by then, we were usually in the hunt. Of course, there were fewer playoff spots so the final week or so of the season there seemed to be a little more urgency to fill them. I know there is still a sense of urgency in today’s NFL when the regular season dwindles down, but not as much as back then.

If you will indulge me, I will share with you what it was like for a 9-year-old boy on the last day of the 1977 NFL season. The neighbors up the street, Family X, were the exact opposite of my family in regards to Politics and football. They were a strong blue-collar family with the same sort of obsession for Baltimore Colts’ football as my conservative father instilled in me for Redskins’ football. There were always arguments back and forth usually ending with my father and I hearing, “Tic Tac Toe 19 in a row!” That phrase was embedded in my mind throughout my childhood! (For those of you who do not know, the Colts had beaten the Redskins like 19 times in a row, or at least that’s what I was told. I never really investigated it. Ha!)

So, going into the last weekend of the season in 1977 with an 8-5 record, the Redskins needed a victory against the Los Angeles Rams and a loss by the Chicago Bears or Minnesota Vikings to make the playoffs. On that Saturday, the Redskins beat the Rams 17-14. But the Vikings won their game also, leaving both teams at 9-5. It boiled down to the Bears games vs. the Giants. Giants win, we are in! Bears win and we are eliminated! So Steve, a member of family X who is my elder by 5 years, came to watch the games at our house. He made me a promise. The Colts were in a must win situation or they faced elimination from the playoffs as well. He promised to root for the Giants to beat the Bears in the late game, if I rooted for the Colts in the early game.

Sounded good to me especially since I looked up to him. So there I was rooting for the Colts to win on the last day of the season. Bert Jones had a tremendous game beating their Division rival New England Patriots to secure a spot in the playoffs, narrowly edging out the Miami Dolphins. It was all set. The Bears’ game was coming on and Steve was gonna sit there and root for the Giants with me so the Redskins would be playoff bound! I truly believed with Steve on our side the Giants would win!

What happened was a crushing blow! Steve rooted for the Bears! He rooted for the Bears. Well, the Bears won that game eliminating the Redskins from the playoffs! I was crushed! After the game I went upstairs to my room and began to cry. I was 9 guys! Remember? Well, to top it all off, Steve came to my room and started making fun of me for crying and rubbing it in that the Redskins’ season was over!

Many of you may be wondering why I am writing about an event that happened 33 years ago and how it relates to a Blog that is supposed to reference the upcoming game between the Washington Redskins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. I am writing about this playoff picture from 33 years ago because I miss those days! Some of you know them, the days where the Redskins were in it until the end? It has become all too familiar for us to sit here at the end of the season and begin to think about next year. It has become a way of life for this organization and it’s fans. There are already draft threads being created and this season has 2 games left! I, for one, am tired of it! To be honest, I am sickened by it! As I watched the Cowboys take a 27-7 lead this past weekend, I was so disgusted. There was nothing I could do! My team is just bad and I felt powerless! Rex gave us something to cheer for toward the end, alleviating some of the sting, but it was too little too late. We still have massive rebuilding to do.

So I felt there really wasn’t much to write about in regards to this game.

I will say this. If anyone had chosen the Jacksonville Jaguars to have a chance to win the AFC South this season, they would have been called loony! The Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning have dominated the AFC South for the previous 10 years and were coming off a Super Bowl appearance. There have been occasional threats from the Tennessee Titans over the past decade and they were coming off a season where their talented young QB appeared to have turned the corner to possible greatness. After the whooping they handed the Colts on opening day back in September, the Houston Texans looked to emerge as the team to beat in this Division. Well here we are with 2 games left to play and the Jacksonville Jaguars could dethrone the Colts if their stars are aligned.

With a resurgent Maurice Jones-Drew, who is challenging for the NFL Rushing Title, this team has been just solid enough to stay in the thick of things all season long. Solid enough? That seems like a good way to describe this team. They are not outstanding. Their run game is decent. Garrard has been anything but spectacular when it comes to his statistics, but the kid is a gamer and they have squeaked out some tough, close games under his leadership. Their defense is gritty, but they are ranked among the league’s worst at 26. Like their coach, a former linebacker known for his grit and determination, this team has kept looking forward and done what they have needed to do to have a chance to pull out the AFC South.

As for the Redskins, it aggravates me that I had to bring up a story from my childhood to remind me that we once mattered in the NFL! I don’t feel as sick as I thought I would after a loss against our hated rivals, but I am fed up with our season ending after 17 weeks every year. 3 playoff appearances in 17 years sucks!

But this story does have a happy ending…well, a happy memory to say the least. On Christmas Eve 1977, my dear uncle took my brother, Steve from family X, and I to the Divisional Playoff game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore as the Colts took on the Oakland Raiders. With the sting of Steve X’s betrayal still fresh in my mind, I cheered as loud as scorned 9-year-old boy could for the Oakland Raiders in the most coveted section of Memorial Stadium, the Colts Corral. That’s right Steve X! I remember what you did just a couple of weeks before!!!

Well, the Raiders went on to win that game in double over time! Ken Stabler completed a tough pass to a diving Dave Casper in the corner of the end zone in front of the Colts Corral. Less than 100 ft away from the action, Steve X was standing next to me in complete shock. Oh how the joy rushed over me! And oh boy the dirty looks I got from the old timers in their blue Colts’ jackets! It was sweet revenge served on a cold dish on a cold Christmas Eve! I still resent Steve X for his actions, but it was a Christmas that year.

Maybe someday in the next couple of years we will feel the joy that comes with playing in the post season or at the least having a chance with 2 games left.

As for this game, I think we win. The Jags may be in line to win their division, but we have Sexy Rexy!

Redskins 27
Jaguars 13

Merry Christmas everyone!
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