by David Elfin
Robert Griffin III is tackled by Luke Kuechly, Captain Munnerlyn, and James Anderson of the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter of the Panthers 21-13 win at FedExField on November 4, 2012. (credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Robert Griffin III is tackled by Luke Kuechly, Captain Munnerlyn, and James Anderson of the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter of the Panthers 21-13 win at FedExField on November 4, 2012. (credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

It’s an eerie parallel.

In 2012, Washington was 3-6 and coming off an embarrassing defeat to a Carolina team with just one victory as it prepared to play Philadelphia.

On Sunday, the 3-6 Redskins, coming off a blown 13-point second half lead in a loss to previously 1-7 Minnesota, visit the Eagles.

Last year, of course, beating Philadelphia in Week 11 turned the season around as the Redskins followed with six straight victories to win their first NFC East title since 1999.

As poorly as Washington has played this year — on defense and special teams, that is – the division is still very much for grabs with Dallas and Philadelphia tied for first at 5-5, two games ahead of the Redskins and the New York Giants. It’s highly doubtful that a 10-6 record will be needed to capture the NFC East. Heck, 7-9 might get it done as was the case in the NFC West four years ago.

“We’re 3-6, [but] our [division] leader right now is 5-5,” said captain London Fletcher. “We’re still in this thing, [but we] gotta win on Sunday. We’re disappointed with [last] Thursday’s game, felt it was a game we should have won. There’ve been a number of games like that this year.”

That’s always the case for losing teams, and in truth, Washington is 2-1 in games that have gone down to the wire, beating Chicago in the final minute and San Diego in overtime before its final drive last week ended at the Minnesota 4-yard line.

The Vikings’ game was the third straight in which the Redskins lost a double-digit lead during the second half.

‘’We let the team down,’’ end Kedric Golston said of the 27th-ranked defense.

“We’ve had teams in situations that as pass-rushers we want them, a double-digit lead with not much time left and we haven’t been able to capitalize,” said outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who leads the Redskins with 6.5 sacks but has just 1.5 since Week 4. “I don’t know if it’s a mindset thing or a physical thing, but it’s gotta change. They’re making the plays and we’re not.’’

Indeed. Washington’s past three foes have scored 68 of their 103 points after halftime while the Redskins have scored just 34 of their 78 (not counting the overtime touchdown that beat the Chargers).

“Teams go into halftime and figure out what we’re doing,’’ said rookie cornerback David Amerson. ‘’We’ve just gotta be able to adjust. It’s natural to think ‘this happened last week and the week before [so it’s going to happen again.’ ‘’

Forty of the 53 current Redskins have been here before, as in the same situation last November.

“We know we can overcome [being 3-6], but at the same time, we can’t be sitting there [saying], ‘We’ve been there before,’ ” Kerrigan said. “We gotta focus on one game at a time.”

That game is against the Eagles, who stunned the host Redskins in Week 1 behind new coach Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense, outscoring them 26-7 while outgaining them 322-75 and ringing up 21 first downs to their three. Washington’s only score came on a fumble return by cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

‘’They kind of took it to us,’’ Fletcher said. ‘’Any time a team beats you, you definitely want to go out and play better and try to even the series. We hadn’t had a chance to make adjustments in the first half because everything was happening so fast. We played better in the second half. The Eagles, their offense [with] the playmakers they have, you still have to go out and execute, not allow the explosive plays.”

Oddly, considering the recent meltdowns after halftime, the Redskins have allowed just 21 plays of at least 20 yards during the past six games after surrendering a ghastly 22 during the first three weeks.

But last week, Washington’s fifth-ranked offense went south after halftime, converting just two of eight third downs, managing just nine first downs and 145 yards. As if the S.S. Shanahan needed another leak.

“We’re in a similar situation as last year,’’ said quarterback Robert Griffin III, whose side of the ball caught fire during the final seven games of 2012. ‘’We just have to take it one game at a time, one play at a time and let the chips fall where they may – focus on the little things, let the big things fall into place. The only thing we can control right now is getting to 4-6 and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

If they don’t, then it will be a fourth essentially meaningless December in five at Redskins Park.


David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last three Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since March 2011.