Playoff Forecasting
Jan 02, 2013 -- 10:44am

The Redskins are making their 17th trip to the "playoffs" since the merger.  They were in the postseason five times in the 1930's and 40's and actually had to win one of the few playoff games ever held in those days.  The NFL had only two divisions and the winners would simply play a championship game to decide the title.  However, in 1943, the Skins lost their last three games, including the season finale at home against the Giants.  That meant the two teams finished in a tie for the division title at 6-3-1 and had to play a one game playoff, which the Redskins won.  However, they were blown out 41-21 in the championship game in Chicago the following week. 

     In the modern era, their playoff history started in 1971.  Over the next 20 years, they went to the playoffs on a regular basis, making it 13 times over those years and appearing in the Super Bowl five times.  As you know, over the last 20 years, the Skins hav made it only four times and never advanced past the second round.  However, over these last two decades, the Redskins went in only once as a division winner - 1999.  And unlike this team, the '99 team played it's best football at the beginning of the year, not the end.  Here now is the rundown of the forecast for those four teams and what they ultimately did in the postseason.  It might have you believing this team may have it's best shot since the Super Bowl championship team of 1991.
1992 - Regular season record: 9-7, playoff forecast: mostly cloudy, lost in the divisional round - This was the last season of Joe Gibbs I and the last hurrah for an aging core group of players who had achieved so much.  The offensive line was banged up all year,with only Mark Schlereth managing to make all 16 starts.  Quarterback Mark Rypien, who had missed most of training camp in a contract dispute, was clearly not the same player he'd been the year before when he was named Super Bowl MVP.  Rypien was intercepted 17 times and threw only 13 touchdown passes.  The year before, he'd thrown 28 td passes and was picked off only 11 times.  Over a four week period in the middle of the season, the Redskins managed only one offensive touchdown.  And after losing back-to-back games to the Eagles and Raiders to close the season, they needed help from the Vikings to get in to the playoffs as a wild card team.  It meant a trip to Minnesota, where they were lucky enough to be facing Sean Salisbury, who finished the game 6 for 20 with two interceptions.  Seemingly overmatched in San Francisco the following week, the Redskins nearly pulled out a miracle.  Down 17-3 at the half, they were 23 yards away from going ahead late in the fourth quarter.  Twenty years later, the debate continues as to who's fault it was, but disaster struck on a play designed to get Brian Mitchell in the end zone.  Either Rypien botched the handoff or Mitchell fumbled, but the 49ers took over and were able to close out the game.  The replay showed the hole was big enough for Rypien and Mitchell to get through sideways.  Too bad.  Gibbs retired, replacement Richie Petitbon finished 4-12 and a year later his replacement Norv Turner cleaned house.  The Camelot years had come to a close.
1999 - Regular season record: 10-6, playoff forecast: partly sunny, lost in the divisional round - The first season under the ownership of Daniel Snyder got off to a boffo start.  Though they lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Dallas in the opener, 41-35, the Skins went on a scoring tear over the next six weeks, winning five while hanging 50 on the Giants on the road and 48 on the Bears at home.  Good times.  An offseason trade for Brad Johnson was just what the Doctor ordered.  Losses to the Bills and Eagles brought them back to earth, but they went on to win three of the next four - all division wins over New York, Philadelphia and Arizona.  They clinched a playoff spot with a come-from-behind win at San Francisco and were handed the division title before they even took the field for a season-closing win over the Dolphins.  Though Johnson had tailed off at the end of the season, he still finished the year with over 4,000 yards passing, 24 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 90.0.  In, until Sunday, the only playoff game ever held at FedEx Field, they beat the 8-8 Gus Frerotte-quarterbacked Lions with little trouble, 27-13.  A week later at Tampa, Brian Mitchell returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown to put the Skins up 13-0.  But the tide turned on an interception thrown by Johnson to John Lynch.  The Bucs went ahead 14-13, though they had one more chance.  Brett Conway lined up for a 52-yard field goal with 1:17 left.  But the snap from Dan Turk never got off the ground and the season came to a crushing end.  Turk didn't even fly back with the team and died a short time later from cancer.  Thirteen games in to the following season, Norv Turner was fired.
2005 - Regular season record: 10-6, playoff forecast: partly sunny, but head scratching, lost in the divisional round - This was year two of Gibbs II.  Although he had finally given in to using the shotgun in his offense, Mark Brunell was still his quarterback.  But Brunell may have saved the season with his midnight miracle in Dallas in the second game of the season.  With less than five minutes to go, he threw a pair of touchdown bombs to Santana Moss for a 14-13 win.  But after an overtime win over Seattle to get to 3-0, the season went south.  The Skins would manage to win only two of their next eight.  Highlighting the inconsistency was a 52-17 win over San Francisco, followed by a 36-0 loss to the Giants.  Heading in to December, the record was 5-6 and things looked bleak.  But with some luck and big-time running from Clinton Portis, they picked up steam, winning all five in the month, including the division three step over the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles by scores of 35-7, 35-20 and 31-20.  A couple of key turnovers helped them win the wild card game at Tampa 17-10.  The divisional round took them to Seattle.  Although the Seahawks would advance to the Super Bowl that year, the Redskins were in position to go up 10-0 and really put the heat on the home team.  A pass from Matt Hasselbeck landed right in the hands of Redskins rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers with nothing but open field ahead of him.  But Rogers did what he did too much of as a Redskin.  He dropped it.  Hasselbeck continued the drive and threw a touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson and the Seahawks never looked back.
2007 - Regular season record: 9-7, playoff forecast: very hazy, lost in wild card round - Much worse than the Thanksgiving weekend loss at Tampa, was the news two days later that star safety Sean Taylor had died of a gunshot wound suffered during a break in to his home.  Though they dedicated the rest of the season to Taylor's memory, a brutal ending to a home game five days after Taylor's death, seemed to end the season.  Gibbs called back-to-back timeouts trying to ice Bills kicker Ryan Lindell in the final seconds of the game.  The second timeout automatically drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 51-yarder suddenly became a very makeable 36-yarder.  The Bills won 17-16 in the gloomy afternoon.  A day later, the team flew to Miami for Taylor's funeral, cutting their prep time for an upcoming Thursday-nighter against Chicago to virtually nothing.  And early in the game when quarterback Jason Campbell went down with a dislocated kneecap, it looked like everything was stacked against them.  But Todd Collins came in for what was the start of the best month of his long NFL career.  Collins directed impressive wins over the Bears, Giants and Vikings.  And in the season finale, with top-seed Dallas resting players for the playoffs, clinched a wild card spot with a 27-6 win.  It was back to Seattle for the second time in three years.  Although the Skins were emotionally spent from what they'd been through, they actually led 14-13 in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from Collins to Moss, Seattle ran off 22 straight points to complete a 35-14 blowout.  Gibbs retired for good a few days later and four messy seasons followed. 
2012 - Regular season record: 10-6, playoff forecast:  mostly sunny.  In recent years the hot team seems to win the Super Bowl.  And right now, who's hotter than the Redskins?  Hang on.  This should be fun.

Return to: Andy Pollin Blog