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Washington Redskins no strangers to close games

Oct. 8, 2010
 
The Green Bay Packers have had their shared of squeakers in 2010, but Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan knows the strain of close games as well.
The Green Bay Packers have had their shared of squeakers in 2010, but Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan knows the strain of close games as well. / File/AP

Striking distance

Teams involved in the most regular-season games decided by eight or fewer points since 2008.

G Team Record
25 Redskins 12-13
23 Steelers 13-10
22 Bears 12-10
22 Dolphins 15-7
22 Jaguars 12-10
22 Texans 12-10
20 Chargers 10-10

Teams involved in the most regular-season games decided by three or fewer points since 2008.

G Team Record
13 Redskins 5-8
11 Steelers 5-6
11 Saints 4-7
10 Buccaneers 4-6
10 Chargers 6-4
10 Texans 7-3

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Well, buckle your chin strap because the Washington Redskins are well acquainted with tight games.

In a league in which nearly half of all games since 1994 (49.6 percent) have been decided by eight or fewer points, the Redskins have emerged as the most practiced in the art of closeness. In their last 36 regular-season outings, Washington has finished within eight points of its opponent on 25 occasions (69.4 percent).

Yes, the Redskins have a losing record (12-13) in those contests, but not at FedExField, where they are 7-5. It’s probably not a good venue for Green Bay to test Washington’s resolve considering the Packers are 2-7 in their last close calls on the road.

Close is a relative term. Ask five individuals for a definition and five answers might be forthcoming.

The NFL charts games decided by eight or fewer points and those decided by three or fewer points. In other words, the league keeps track of games that could have been tied with a touchdown and a two-point conversion or those that could have been knotted up with a field goal.

The Redskins are the frontrunner in both categories.

The Jim Zorn era in Washington, brief as it was, produced but 12 wins in two seasons. It did, however, give rise to 22 games decided by eight or fewer points and 12 that were settled by a field goal or less.

Coach Mike Shanahan, Zorn’s successor, has extended this trend. The Redskin’s 2-2 record includes a 13-7 season-opening win over Dallas, a 30-27 loss to the Texans in Week 2 and, most recently, a 17-12 triumph in Philadelphia.

Washington stumbled 30-16 at St. Louis in Week 3.

Packers statistics  |   Other NFL statistics  |  Standings  |  Matchups/Odds

Shanahan knows close games. His Broncos were 3-0 in games decided by three points or less in 2008 his final year in Denver.

Of course, close scores don’t always equate to close games. Who hasn’t heard a talking head proclaim a game wasn’t as close as the score indicated?

The Redskins can attest to this. They won their opener by six points and for most of the game (46 minutes, 41 seconds), Washington and Dallas were within eight points of one another.

But a week later, they lost by a smaller margin (three points) yet for nearly two thirds of the game (39:50), the Texans couldn’t come within eight points of the Redskins. That can happen when squandering a 17-point lead.

A similar situation arose last week in Philadelphia. Washington jumped to an early 14-0 lead and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Eagles pulled to within eight points.

The Redskins have held double-digit leads in all but their loss to the Rams. That is another reason why Green Bay can’t take Washington lightly.

Mike McCarthy’s Packers are 19-15 in regular-season road games and 6-7 in those decided by eight or fewer points. His team was 2-0 in tight games in each of his first two seasons, but the only victories since came at Chicago last year and at Philadelphia to open this season.

It doesn’t take a pessimist to realize that lose is part of the word close. And lose is a real possibility for the Packers should they allow the Redskins to hang around for four quarters Sunday.

Extra point

The Redskins have been involved in just two games decided by 20 or more points since 2008. They won 34-13 at Oakland, then dropped a 45-12 decision to the Giants in consecutive weeks last season. Every other team has been a part of at least five such games in that time.

Regular-season series

Overall: Green Bay leads 17-12-1.

At FedExField: Packers lead 1-0.

Starting quarterbacks

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (20-16 overall; 0-0 vs. Washington).

Redskins: Donovan McNabb (94-51-1; 3-2 vs. Green Bay).

Once a Redskin, now a Packer

There are no former Redskins on the Packers’ roster.

Once a Packer, now a Redskin

Defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday (1998-2002) is a former Packer.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,” a statistical history of the Packers. E-mail him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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