WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — There is nothing left to play for with playoff hopes long since dashed. Wins might even hurt the Redskins’ long-term prospects with a lower draft pick next May. Do not tell that to the players, though.
For them, a 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field on Saturday carried meaning beyond just a meager fourth victory in 15 games.
“It’s great for the young guys. We’ve got rookies and second-year guys who haven’t done a lot of winning,” defensive lineman Barry Cofield said. “Hopefully situations like this can carry over into the future and just be good for the franchise.”
Rookie Bashaud Breeland had the key interception late in the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning field goal from Kai Forbath. But the news wasn’t all good for the younger players. Linebacker Trent Murphy left the game in the first half with a hand injury and could miss the season finale against Dallas next Sunday.
The experience Sunday against the Eagles could help, in theory. But will enough core players return to have this particular win make a difference in 2015 and beyond?
“I disagree [that it doesn’t]. Especially with young guys, especially with the quarterback,” Cofield said. “A lot of key positions need to taste victory, they need to get some momentum going into the offseason and young guys need to mature. I think every win, especially in the division against quality opponents – it’s hard to win in this league. It’s a razor thin margin between winning and losing. These wins are crucial for the future.”
But the Redskins are again headed for a last-place finish in the NFC East. They have a chance to net five wins if they can upset first-place Dallas. But there are holes all over the roster that need to be addressed this offseason and players that have been in Washington for several years – linebacker Brian Orakpo, safety Brandon Meriweather, safety Ryan Clark, wide receiver Santana Moss among others – could be in a different uniform next season or out of the NFL completely.
Still, the players themselves see value in the upset they just pulled. They may have knocked the Eagles from the NFC playoff chase. And maybe – just maybe – some of the lessons from this game will carry over into 2014. Most outsiders will doubt that.
“We can hang a lot on what we just did,” Moss said. “It’s more than just going out and playing good. You want to win. That’s what we step out on the field every day to do. So when you come out of it and get a ‘W’ like that it’s big for everybody’s confidence, it’s big for everybody’s spirits just to lift everybody up and know that we can do this anytime we play the way we played.”
And so the Redskins left the field winners for the first time since that Oct. 27 Monday Night Football victory in Dallas. The last time Washington had a 10-point lead in any game? Nov. 2 in the second quarter against Minnesota – a game it lost anyway. And quarterback Robert Griffin III, with a decent performance, his best of the season to date, showed just enough of the promise that earned him a “franchise” quarterback label before he’d really earned it. There’s so much work left to do, though. For now, the satisfaction has to be short term. The future – whatever form it takes – must wait.
“We needed this for the mindset of this team,” fullback Darrel Young said after a two-touchdown performance of his own. “It’s the sense that we beat a good football team that was playing for a lot.”
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