- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 9, 2008

SURE-HANDED

The Redskins, you may have noticed, haven’t been turning the ball over much. In fact, they’ve done it only once in their first five games (and that was a special teams turnover - a fumble on a punt return).

How unusual is this? Well, put it this way: According to my research, they’re the first team in the 89 years of the NFL to make it through their first five games without an offensive turnover.

There was some doubt about this earlier in the week. The 1960 Browns, I discovered, turned the ball over just once in their first five games - a fumble - but it was unclear which unit was responsible: offense, defense or special teams. An e-mail to the Elias Sports Bureau, keeper of the NFL record book, brought the following response:

“The Browns had four fumbles in that game [and lost one]. The fumbles were committed by Jim Brown (2), Len Dawson and Jamie Caleb. None of those players had a kick return, punt return or interception in that game, so there is a very good chance it was a fumble while the offense was on the field.”

(Also, none of them punted, so it couldn’t have been a case of a dropped snap. And none of them played defense, so they couldn’t have picked up a fumble, started running and fumbled themselves.)

It’s quite an accomplishment for the Redskins and their first-year coach, Jim Zorn. Consider: The team hasn’t made a turnover of any kind in its last three games (Arizona, Dallas, Philadelphia). When Joe Gibbs was coaching, the Redskins never went more than two games without turning the ball over - which was the club record before the ‘08 Redskins came along.

Other turnover-related tidbits:

• No Gibbs team ever had more than four turnover-free games in a season (‘83, ‘90, ‘06). The Zornskins already have four. The franchise record is five by Norv Turner’s ‘99 NFC East champs.

• From 1950 to ‘65 - just to show you how bad they were in those days - the Redskins had only five games in which they DIDN’T commit a turnover.

• The NFL record for most consecutive games without a turnover is four, shared by eight teams. The Redskins can join that group if they can avoid a mishap against the Rams on Sunday.

• Near as I can tell, only one team in NFL history has gone more than five games without an offensive turnover - the ‘05 Broncos, who had only a special teams fumble in a six-game stretch (Weeks 3 through 8).

TEAMS THAT HAVE GONE FOUR GAMES WITHOUT A TURNOVER

Year and team (W-L)Coach/QuarterbackResult

2005 Broncos (13-3)Mike Shanahan/Jake PlummerLost AFC title game

2001 Jets (10-6)Herman Edwards/Vinny TestaverdeWild card

2001 Seahawks (9-7)Mike Holmgren/Matt HasselbeckWild card

1999 Jaguars (14-2)Tom Coughlin/Mark BrunellLost AFC title game

1998 Bengals (3-13)Bruce Coslet/Neil O’DonnellLast in AFC Central

1994 Lions (9-7)Wayne Fontes/Dave KriegWild card

1980 Vikings (9-7)Bud Grant/Tommy KramerWon NFC Central

1971 Dolphins (10-3-1)Don Shula/Bob GrieseLost Super Bowl

- Dan Daly