The Blog Squad

Friday, December 21, 2007

The 12th Man on the Field

The unofficial count was 10 dropped passes by the New York Giants last Sunday when they lost to the Washington Redskins. Some blamed it on wind gusts. Others said it was because of frigid conditions. And still others pointed to the playoff pressure of the game.

The Giants dropped screens, hooks and go passes. Amani Toomer was wide open down the sidelines, and New York’s all-time leading receiver had the ball bounce off his hands. Nobody was within five yards of him.

As I watched this happen, muffed pass after muffed pass, I wondered …
I rank the Redskins' 22-10 victory over the Giants as one of the best ever. It’s been a difficult season to watch and follow. There was so much hope at the beginning and so many close defeats in the middle. Washington (7-7) lost five games after holding the lead at halftime. A sixth defeat came when the Redskins threw two late interceptions deep in Tampa Bay territory in a 19-13 loss.

It has indeed been a nightmare season on the field, and coupled with the murder of star free safety Sean Taylor, many Redskins fans have wished for the end to come soon. That sentiment continued last Sunday night when second-year linebacker Rocky McIntosh fell in the first quarter. The weakside linebacker will be out for up to a year after he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee. He was developing at a stellar pace, and it’s questionable if he’ll ever regain his explosiveness.

So with three young defensive playmakers out due to devastating circumstances, and a quarterback who hadn’t started a game since 1997, there was no way Washington could win at the Meadowlands, especially with New York knowing that a victory would secure it a playoff berth. The Giants had outscored the Redskins 55-3 at home the past two seasons.

But then New York players started to drop passes. And Brandon Jacobs, their 265-pound running back, was being tackled by smaller guys. And Giants quarterback Eli Manning was jumpy in the pocket and threw some passes early despite little pressure.

What was happening?

Could it be?

To me, there was a force greater than the wind and cold, and greater than the circumstances of the situation that was pushing the Redskins along to victory.

I don’t claim to be overly spiritual, but I do believe. I have faith. I know there is existence. If I look to the sky, put my hands together and ask for guidance, I know I’m heard.

That’s why it’s not impossible for me to fathom that a presence, with work left undone, was there to lend a hand to his teammates on the cold winter night.

I don’t want the season to end anymore. It may this Sunday night in Minnesota. But I have this feeling, the Vikings might drop a few easy passes and their pro bowl rookie Adrian Peterson might find it hard to break tackles or juke defenders.

I have a feeling it’s not over yet because there’s still work left undone.

OUT AT HOME: Have you ever seen a baby squirrel? Or even a teenaged squirrel?

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: The Redskins need to bring this attitude to the game Sunday night against Minnesota.

Notice how Frampton (No. 39) is talking back. See what happens to Frampton later. Man, he was a badass!

—Gage Harter


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