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HAIL to them anyway: The Redskins may have lost the NFL Wild Card game to Seattle, but they've given 'Skins fans at least two things: A late-season thrill ride and hope for the future.
After a lackluster start to the season, the team re-grouped and turned in a seven-game winning streak to capture the NFC East title and bragging rights over perennial rivals like the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. Now the Seattle Seahawks, who, in addition to winning Sunday night's game kicked the 'Skins out of contention in 2005 and 2007, may join the constellation of targeted teams.
The future, of course, depends in part on the knee of one Robert Griffin III, which, Joe Theismann-style, crumpled sickeningly late in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's game. A bad snap resulted in a loose ball. RGIII went after it, his foot caught on the turf, and 80,000 fans collectively caught their breath as their franchise quarterback went down.
Monday morning quarterbacks are having a field day. Should head coach Mike Shanahan have allowed RGIII to play? Should he have pulled him after the quarterback re-injured his braced leg on the second drive of the game? Did the team physician clear him to play? And what about field conditions--could they have been to blame? Rarely have more people waited anxiously for the results of an MRI of a stranger.
It's all part of following a sports team, and Washington fans can take solace in the fact that the watercooler discussions can include a healthy dose of hope, thanks to Mr. Griffin, running backs Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon, defense leader London Fletcher, and a whole passel of others who made the Redskins look respectable again--even fun to watch. "Wait 'til next year" has some zing in it this time. If only that knee holds out.