Upsetting the New Orleans Saints in a charged atmosphere at the Superdome was a special victory for the Washington Redskins. The smiles on players’ faces last week made that clear.
But it didn’t take long for veteran nose tackle Kedric Golston to provide the reality check. This team has been here before, and guys know they can’t get caught up in an emotional season opener and the hype Robert Griffin III ignited with his debut.
“It isn’t the first time we’ve won a big game, a season opener,” Golston said. “We also know the consistency that it’s going to take. We’ve been 3-1, 4-2, 6-2. We understand that it’s putting together 16 weeks to ultimately get where we want to be, and that’s in the playoffs and a chance to do something great.”
The attention was undeniable in the hours and days after the Redskins beat the Saints. Preseasons always bring optimism, but knocking off the Saints took it to an entirely different level.
All of a sudden “RG3” was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and there was a buzz among fans about this team, and not just in Washington.
“I don’t think it’s just because of me. … I think they’re excited about this team, what this team has to offer,” Griffin said. “I feel good about the excitement about this team, and I think the team feels good about itself just with the way we performed last week, and we’ve got to continue to carry that on.”
Cautious optimism might be the best way to describe it because Golston is right. This is the third straight season the Redskins opened 1-0. They were 3-1 a year ago before losing six in a row and finishing 5-11. In 2008 they opened 4-1 and then 6-2; a 2-6 finish left them at 8-8.
Players have long memories, so shutting out the hype is easy so far.
“It’s not that hard. It’s a really long season, and we know we’ve got a long season ahead of us,” linebacker Rob Jackson said. “I mean one game, yeah, it was good for the time, but now we’re looking at St. Louis and everything they’ve got to offer.”
A loss Sunday afternoon at the St. Louis Rams, who went 2-14 last season, would take some helium out of the hot air the Redskins generated with their opening victory. On the other side, a 2-0 start on the road is a nice first couple of steps.
“Right now we have one. We’re building to have that second one,” wide receiver Santana Moss said. “Until that second one is achieved, accomplished, I’ll be able to talk about it. Right now I’m not going to jump the gun because I don’t do that.”
But with an average age under 27, the Redskins have plenty of guys who haven’t been here before. Moss, Golston and Co. provide the reasonable tempering of expectations, but Griffin and other young players have it under control.
“These young guys also played college ball, played high school ball. These guys play a lot of football to know that regardless of what you do, you have to do that every week,” Moss said. “I’m pretty sure they’re aware of, yes, being 2-0 and, yes, doing all of that, that’s great. We want that. But we want to win every week. We know it’s not going to come down to that every week, but we have to prepare mentally that whatever happens, it happens, let it happen good or bad and move on.”
That means being happy for a little while in New Orleans and shortly after but focusing on what Golston figures will be an “all hands on deck” effort to beat the Rams. But the Redskins are favored this time, even on the road.
Still, as fans start the process of hoisting expectations on this team, an impressive start isn’t yet hard to put on tunnel vision and ignore.