Believe it or not, the Redskins are playing their tenth season at FedEx Field. That?s hardly a long and storied history, especially given the team?s relative lack of success since they?ve set up shop in Landover. They are 42-31-1 there, not exactly a staggering home field advantage.
After Sunday, however, the massive building now has one element that it has been lacking since its inception, a memorable game. In fact, one could argue that this was the best game ever played at FedEx Field (previously known as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and, briefly in 1999, as Redskins Stadium).
There are a few other serious contenders for best ever in that building. In 1999 the Redskins rallied from a 21-point first-quarter deficit and beat the Carolina Panthers 38-36 on a last-minute Brett Conway field goal in what was an exciting, well-played affair. The first game ever at the stadium saw the Redskins win 19-13 in overtime, but that win came against a bad Cardinals team. Their first win after starting 0-5 under Marty Schottenheimer came with a thrilling comeback in the late going, highlighted by LaVar Arrington?s interception return for a touchdown that saved the season. However, that was a tedious affair for the first 50 minutes or so. Last year?s overtime win over Seattle was entertaining and considering where the Seahawks wound up the season it was rather impressive as well.
Still, this one had all of the elements you could want in a football game. There were two quality teams on the field and each of them seemed to have control of the game at various times. We had a go-ahead and then a tying field goal in the last two minutes of regulation. It was cleanly played with just eight penalties being called on the two teams combined. Turnovers were a bit high at two per team, but the play didn?t get near the point of being sloppy. There were plays that would have been Sports Center highlight leads on their own had they not been overshadowed by other, even more spectacular plays. Santana Moss? spin move on his first touchdown looked like something that only could be executed on a PlayStation 2, not on the field of play. Maurice Jones-Drew displayed a scary burst of speed on his touchdown catch and run. And have you ever seen a receiver lose his helmet on a hit but hang on to the ball for a touchdown as Reggie Williams did in the fourth quarter? To top it off, a walk-off 68-yard touchdown play is more fun and exciting way to end an overtime than is a chippie field goal.
And, perhaps most importantly, the home team won.
The New York Giants seem to be in a bit of disarray at the moment. They went into their bye week after getting spanked by Seattle in a 42-30 rout that was not nearly as close as the final score might indicate. After the game, in a statement he has since apologized for, tight end Jeremy Shockey said that the Giants were ?outplayed and outcoached?. That?s not a very settling tone on which to enter your bye.
New York has the third-ranked offense in the league in terms of yards per game and one matchup that they have to like this Sunday is their crew of big, physical receivers going up against a Washington secondary that has been under assault, literally and figuratively, all year long.
Amani Toomer, at 6-3, has been a thorn in the side of the Redskins for years and at 6-5 Plaxico Burress gives Eli Manning a huge target to throw to. Add in Shockey at 6-5 and you have quite a towering set of pass catchers.
Washington is 24th in the league in pass defense. The beleaguered secondary has allowed both big plays and little ones to the likes of Marcus Robinson, Andre Johnson, Terry Glenn, and Reggie Williams. It?s been the Achilles heel in the defense, no question about it.
Shawn Springs is unlikely to return from his groin injury on Sunday so there will be no help coming from the return of one of their best players. After getting burned by the likes of the 6-4 Reggie Williams and, to a lesser extent, the 6-4 Ernest Wilford, dealing with New York?s giant receivers are not a group to get well against.