Saturday, January 14, 2006

Redkins fever gripped the region for the last time yesterday as fans rooted in vain for the team’s improbable playoff run to continue.

Mister Days Sports Rock Cafe in Arlington was a sea of burgundy and gold during the Redskins’ second-round clash with the Seattle Seahawks. Before the team’s 20-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the bar’s atmosphere was raucous as euphoria and hope replaced the recent years of frustration at the team’s ineptitude.

“There isn’t a team they can’t beat right now,” said Harvey Johnson, 30, of Waldorf, clad in a No. 28 Darrell Green jersey. “They’ve got a balanced offense, and their defense is one of the best in the league.”

Mr. Johnson, pausing briefly to groan along with the crowd at a second-quarter Seahawks touchdown, said he would have liked the Redskins’ chances against the winner of the other second-round matchup. (The Carolina Panthers take on the Chicago Bears today at 4:30 p.m.)

“Like the saying goes, on any given Sunday, a team can be beaten,” Mr. Johnson said.

Chris Tank, 28, of Arlington agreed that the team had a chance if the Redskins’ up-and-down offense had righted its ship. The team put up a record-low 120 yards of total offense against the Buccaneers two weeks ago, the fewest in league history by a postseason winner.

“We just have to get out of this offensive funk we’re in,” Mr. Tank said. “But with Joe Gibbs, you can never count this team out.”

Meanwhile, ESPN Zone in Northwest was the choice location for many D.C. fans to watch the game. Before the game, most die-hard fans said they would follow Coach Gibbs’ motto to take it one game at a time, but some couldn’t help looking ahead — albeit prematurely — to possible NFC championship game matchups and what might have been.

“The Bears don’t worry me, we’ve beaten them before this season,” said Derek Colquitt, 39, of Southeast, as he and his 3-month-old daughter, Kai, joined more than 20 friends and family members to watch the heartbreaking end to the Redskins’ season.

Other fans also had been thinking big before yesterday’s defeat, dreaming of the Super Bowl after the Redskins’ six-game win streak and playoff victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Dave Adams, 50, of the District said he didn’t care who Washington had to play had they moved on. Pressed to choose which team he’d have rather seen the Redskins face, he chose Carolina until reminded that the Skins defeated the Bears, 9-7, in the first game of the season.

“Oh yeah, I forgot about that,” Mr. Adams said. “Never mind that, then, I’ll go with the Bears.”

Reggie Boone of the District also had been high on Washington’s chances for the Super Bowl. Before yesterday’s game, the defending champions were the potential Washington opponent that worried him most, he said.

“New England is the team that I wouldn’t want to play, because they execute well, especially at this time of year,” said Mr. Boone, 39. “You score 40 on them, and they’ll score 41 on you. But we’ve got a secret weapon — Joe Gibbs.”

Oh well, there’s always next year.

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