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Slaying Goliath

Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda.

Such has been the mantra of the Washington Redskins fan for years. The only predictable consistency of the burgundy and gold has been unpredictability and inconsistency. While Redskins fans tend to dwell on the excruciatingly painful failures of recent years, there have been a number of memorable triumphs that may give 2010 supporters a glimmer of hope.

And hope they will need, because Goliath is coming to town, in the form of two great teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts. They bring with them a quarterback legend and one in the making. They ooze tenacity, killer instinct, and iron-clad confidence only winning – lots of it – can bring. Their visits couldn’t be more untimely. The Redskins are clearly a team in transition. Barely a quarter complete, the 2010 season has already had more ups and downs than a Pamela Anderson sex tape.

Given the Redskins shaky and erratic start, only a fool would give them a chance against two perennial NFL powerhouses, right?

I’m not so sure. It’s true that being a Redskins fan has involved far more pain than pleasure over the past decade. Yet the Redskins have reeled off a surprising number of big wins over that period. Since the return of Joe Gibbs (sorry – even I don’t have the stomach to closely examine the Spurrier years), the Redskins have beaten a number of very, very good teams.

Since 2004, the Redskins have notched ten wins against playoff-caliber teams. That doesn’t sound all that impressive until you consider that six of those ten wins came against the eventual champion of every NFC division. They beat Super Bowl winners and Super Bowl runners-up. And they did it with the same kind of flawed, unpredictable, and at times, under-performing team we have under Mike Shanahan today.

How did the Redskins beat clearly superior teams like the Vikings, Bears, Seahawks, Giants, Saints, Cowboys, Cardinals, and Eagles in their primes? A closer look at each of those seemingly inexplicable wins shows some surprising similarities, common threads tying these ten Redskin triumphs together.

Perseverance – Redskins fans know their team is rarely blown out. Losses typically involve close games and sometimes even a late Redskins lead before the rally turns to implosion. In our ten great wins, the Redskins weren’t perfect. But they battled, hung on, and ultimately prevailed. All but two of these victories were decided by a touchdown or less. That speaks of guts, determination, and gritty play...

To read the rest of 'Slaying Goliath', click HERE to get your free subscription to Hail! magazine.

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