What a difference 841 days make.
Mike Shanahan's third regular season as head coach of the Washington Redskins ended the same way his first regular season began: with a home game on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys. We watched last night's festivities on television, but we saw the 2010 season opener live and in color.
The box score makes for interesting reading: Donovan McNabb, making his burgundy-and-gold debut, completed 15 of 24 passes for 171 yards. Graham Gano kicked two field goals and an extra point. Clinton Portis carried the ball 18 times for 63 yards. (Larry Johnson added nine yards on three carries.) Albert Haynesworth (remember him?) recorded two split tackles, one of which was with LaRon Landry).
The game itself was dire the Redskins scored a defensive touchdown on a fumble return by DeAngelo Hall just before halftime, and only held on to win 13-7 after Dallas' game-winning touchdown pass on the last play of the game was wiped out by offensive holding. The 90,670 who attended, most of whom went home happy, couldn't have known at the time that that season and the one after it would collapse under the weight questionable personnel decisions (Rex Grossman), obfuscation from the top ("cardiovascular endurance"), misplaced faith (Grossman again), off-field embarrassment (Haynesworth again), and generally poor on-field performance. (Shanahan's Washington record entering Week 11 of this year: 14-27).
It's been 841 days since Mike Shanahan's first regular season game as the head coach of the Washington Redskins. At times, it's felt even longer. But last night, Shanahan's team came good by winning a division title. And the hopes that fans had leaving FedEx Field three Septembers ago (not the first time they had been re-kindled) were finally rewarded.