Goal Line Stand Could Spark Another Run At Playoffs

1st and 1 at WSH 1

(Shotgun) Danny Woodhead up the middle to WSH 1 for no gain (London Fletcher, Brandon Meriweather).

The 2nd and 1 at WSH 1

Phillip Rivers pass incomplete short right to Antonio Gates.

3rd and 1 at WSH 1

(Shotgun) P.Rivers pass incomplete short right to Keenan Allen.

4th and 1 at WSH 1

Nick Novak 19 yard field goal is GOOD.

Before those four plays, the Redskins season hadn’t gone exactly as planned. Everyone knew that there would be a certain curve since the franchise player's health was in question, but the struggle was greatly underestimated.

It has been inconsistent to say the least. The offense had been uneven at times, the special teams had been some of the worst I’ve probably ever seen and the defense hadn’t come up with the big stop when it really needed it. Already a disappointing 2-5 record and with the Chargers effortlessly marching down the field for a game-winning score, the Redskins were staring their season-damning sixth loss directly in the face.

Those four plays represented a certain guts, grit and determination we hadn’t yet seen from the 2013 team.

Those four plays represented a renewed level of hope heading into the second half of the season.

Those four plays from last Sunday’s 30-24 win over San Diego outline a game-saving goal line stand that helped the Redskins earn a much-needed victory and dare I say it..another late season run at the playoffs

It seems like every team that reaches the pinnacle of their sport can identify that one season-defining moment. That moment when fortunes change, tables turn and when teams are propelled to contender status.

Back in 2003, the New England’s big moment came when they kept Colts running back Edgerrin James out of the end-zone on four straight plays from the one yard line to preserve a 38-34. The win all but wrapped up home-field advantage for the Patriots and ensured that the road to Super Bowl XXXVIII would go through Gillette Stadium (where they beat the Colts in the AFC Championship game eight weeks later).

Back in 2007, the struggling 0-2 Giants trailed the Redskins 17-3 at halftime. 21 consecutive points later, the Giants held a 24-17 lead with the then Jason Campbell-led Redskins driving for the tying score. New York broke up a pass intended for Mike Sellers on second down and then stuffed Ladell Betts on third and fourth down to preserve their first win of that season (I still don't know why Clinton Portis was not in for that drive. Joe Gibbs owes me an explanation for that one). The Giants would win their next six games and make the playoffs as a fifth seed. They then went on a unprecedented run through the postseason, beating Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay all on the road before upsetting previously undefeated New England in Super Bowl XLII    

Back in 2005, Chris Cooley took a Mark Brunell hitch route 30 yards up the sideline, leaving trucked Cowboys in his path, for his third touchdown of the game to give the Redskins a 28-0 halftime lead. The Redskins went on to win 35-7, earning their first season sweep over their rival in a decade. The win was the third of five in a row to close the regular season that put the Redskins in the playoffs for the first time since 1999

Nine days after Sean Taylor's death in 2007, Todd Collins came off the bench to replace an injured Jason Campbell, throwing two touchdowns and leading the Skins to a 24-16 win over the Bears. That win was the first of a four game streak that put the Redskins in the playoffs for the second time in three years.

Look, I am not saying the 3-5 Redskins are Super Bowl bound. They're still facing a pretty steep uphill battle to just make the playoffs. But that special season-defining moment may have occurred last Sunday. And it wouldn't be the first time the Redskins saw a gut-check moment kick-start a late season rally.

And last year, Robert Griffin III threw a back-shoulder fade to Santana Moss for a touchdown right before halftime to give the Redskins a 28-3 halftime lead over Dallas on Thanksgiving (a circumstance in which Washington had never won). The Redskins would go on to win the game, the second of seven straight, and claim their first division title in over a decade.

Three separate playoff runs all sparked by three moments of fortitude. And while the Redskins didn't end up winning the Super Bowl in any of these three seasons, these special against-all-odds backs-against-the-wall moments helped resurrect Washington seasons and jettisoned these teams into the previously unthinkable.

Of course that goal line stand could be meaningless. The courageous effort could all be in vain if the the Redskins lose tonight.  If that happens, last week's heroics will just be another footnote in another bad Redskins' season.

But if it does lead to something and we're talking Super Bowl again in early January, we can all look back and appreciate those four plays.