These past few weeks have been pretty tough on Redskins fans. Not only has the team run its losing streak to five, in the last three games it has scored a mere 20 points (11 with John Beck at quarterback, 9 with Rex Grossman).
It’s the fifth time since the franchise moved to Washington that it has gone through a three-game stretch like this – or worse. Here are the particulars, if you can bear to read any further:
● 1961 (7 points in Games 4-6): Lost 31-7 at Cleveland, 20-0 at Pittsburgh and 24-0 vs. St. Louis.
Best excuse: Rookie Norm Snead started at QB, and the offense struggled all season. In fact, it scored a touchdown or less eight times en route to a 1-12-1 record. It didn’t help any that the kicker, John Aveni, missed 23 of 28 field-goal tries (in what turned out to be his last year in the NFL).
Notes: The Redskins never led in any of the three games… . Their only points came on a 6-yard pass from Snead to Tom Osborne, who would go on to much greater fame as the coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. (Miraculously, Aveni booted the PAT.)
● 2001 (16 points in Games 1-3): Lost 30-3 at San Diego, 37-0 at Green Bay and 45-13 vs. Kansas City.
Best excuse: It took them awhile to adjust to the mysteries of Marty Ball (it being Marty Schottenheimer’s first and only season as coach). Plus, Schottenheimer and quarterback Jeff George never saw eye-to-eye; indeed, George – one of Dan Snyder’s fantasy-team signings – was cut after the second game.
Notes: Tony Banks took over at QB in Week 3 and at least produced a touchdown – on a 26-yard throw to rookie Rod Gardner… . The Redskins’ other points in this stretch were scored by kicker Brett Conway (three field goals, one PAT)… . As in ’61, they never led in any of the three games… . But … after dropping their first five, they rebounded to finish 8-8.
● 1980 (16 points in Games 11-13): Lost 24-0 to Philadelphia, 14-10 at Dallas and 10-6 at Atlanta.
Best excuse: There were several, actually. First, after rushing for 1,000 yards in both ’78 and ’79, John Riggins sat out all year in a contract dispute. Second, the three clubs the Redskins lost to were the three best in the NFC. All went 12-4 (and the Eagles beat the Cowboys in the conference title game). Third, Joe Theismann hurt his shoulder against Dallas and missed part of that game and all of the next. (Mike Kruczek filled in for him.)
Notes: These were the last three games of a five-game losing streak that doomed the Redskins to a 6-10 season and cost coach Jack Pardee his job. He was followed, of course, by Joe Gibbs, and two years later the club won the Super Bowl… . The lone Washington touchdown in the three games was supplied by Wilbur Jackson, who ran 8 yards for a score at Dallas… . Mark Moseley’s three field goals and one PAT accounted for the other points.
● 1938 (20 points in Games 7-9): Tied 6-6 at Brooklyn, won 7-0 at Pittsburgh, lost 31-7 at Chicago Bears.
Best excuse: Cliff Battles, the league’s leading rusher the year before, unexpectedly retired when owner George Preston Marshall wouldn’t give him a decent raise. Battles was a phenomenal player – a Hall of Famer – and a huge loss.
Notes: Despite their offensive issues, the Redskins still managed to win one of the games (on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Sammy Baugh to rookie back George Karamatic) and tie another (thanks to two Riley Smith field goals)… . It was the only TD of Karamatic’s NFL career.
● 2011 (20 points in Games 7-9): Lost 23-0 at Buffalo (Toronto), 19-11 vs. San Francisco and 20-9 at Miami.
Best excuse: The offensive line has been hit hard by injuries and, really, how many points are you going to put up with Grossman and Beck under center?
Notes: Let’s not overlook the fact that, against the 49ers, Graham Gano knocked through a 59-yard field goal to set a franchise record… . The points breakdown for the three games: Gano 12 (4 field goals), Jabar Gaffney 6 (on a 9-yard toss from Beck vs. the Niners), Leonard Hankerson 2 (on a conversion pass after the Gaffney TD)… . As in 1961 and 2001, the Redskins never led in any of the games… . Mike Shanahan’s previous three-game low as a head coach: 28 points with the ’88 Raiders (Games 10-12). Amazingly, the Raiders won the first two (13-3 over San Diego and 9-3 over San Francisco) and nearly the third (a 12-6 loss to Atlanta).