If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.
For the newest generation of Washington Redskins fans, they’ve had to live by this famous Heraclitus quote. No two seasons have produced similar results as one year they’ll start fast then fade quickly before cross the finish line last in the NFC East or they’ll start cold before storming past the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants.
Since 2001, the Washington Redskins have turned poor starts into strong finishes four different times. 2012 of course is the highlight effort. Rallying from 3-6 to 10-6 and a home playoff game that some in attendance on that cold January night weren’t even alive the last time they hosted, the Redskins capped off the most miraculous of comeback stories.
Anyway, longtime Redskins beat writer John Keim has been through it all since starting his coverage of the team back in 1994 and highlighted previous turnarounds starting with 2001’s 0-5. to .500 finish.
How they started: The Redskins lost their first five games under coach Marty Schottenheimer — and looked terrible in doing so. It also happened to follow a horrible preseason. The Redskins were outscored 143-33 in those games.
In a complete role reversal from the 1991 offense that dashed numerous records and destroyed opponents at a record pace, the offense seemingly couldn’t do anything right.
In the first two games they were outscored 67-3 and that included a 37-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football were the offense couldn’t even produce 200 yards of offense.
The offense was able right the ship in Week 6 with an overtime win over the Carolina Panthers. They followed it up with a five touchdown performance against the Giants.
Despite the porous start, the Redskins finished second in the division.
How they started: The Redskins actually played well at the start of the season, winning their first three games and they were 4-2 after six games. But they lost four of their next five to sit 5-6 after 11 games.
Then seasoned veteran Mark Brunell and weapons Chris Cooley, Santana Moss and Clinton Portis shifted into fourth gear in their first season together. Winning the last five games of the season, the Redskins found themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
Outscoring the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles by a combined score of 101-47 in the last three weeks, it was one of the best endings to the regular season in franchise history.
How they started: The Redskins won five of their first eight games coming off a 6-10 season. Things looked good.
A second playoff appearance looked lost after Jason Campbell went down with a season-ending injury in Week 14.
Everyone eliminated the Redskins with Collins in control— and that was before he had even taken a snap.
But in a George Mason basketball-esque fairy tale run, the veteran journeyman put the Redskins on his back and helped them reach the playoffs in a season where football soon became the last thing on everyone’s minds.
How they started: Washington lost three straight, including at home to Carolina, 21-13, to fall to 3-6.
Still fresh enough that fans can recall every game during the stretch run, the Redskins became only the fourth team in the Wild Card Era to start 3-6 before making the playoffs.
It didn’t matter if it was the defense clamping down in late-game moments or the offense running rickshaw over confused defenses, the team had that “it” factor that made the unimaginable become reality.
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