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How Will Redskins Respond? Answer Could Define Season

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Blown out.

No other way to describe it, no way to excuse it and maybe no reason to remember it.

Unless it sets the stage for further adventures in ineptitude. Unless the Redskins don't put it behind them immediately and, as Donovan McNabb says over and over (and over), "Move on."

How do the Redskins respond to the 59-28 flattening by the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night? Do they let it doom their season? Do they simply count it as one defeat and get back to work with renewed intensity? Hideous beatings, as coach Mike Shanahan noted after the game, "do happen."

Maybe the Redskins can take a lesson from this Sunday's opponent, the Tennessee Titans. Maybe they can also reach back into their minds to 2007 when they did not let a humiliating defeat linger long.

First, the Titans. They started the 2009 season a stunning 0-5 and went on the road to play the New England Patriots. They came home 0-6 after losing 59-0. They trailed 45-0 at halftime, gave up 619 yards, finished with -7 net passing yards.

Did they quit, pack it in, call it a season? No. They won their next five games and finished 8-8. We won't give them a medal for being .500 but they notched victories in eight of their last 10 games.

How about the '07 Redskins? Similar scenario. Went to New England and got eviscerated, 52-7, by a team that set a basketful of offensive records on its way to the Super Bowl (and a stunning defeat in the pursuit of the perfect 19-0 record). The following week? The Redskins nipped the New York Jets 23-20 in overtime. Yes, they lost their next four. And yes, they went on to win their last four to grab a wild-card playoff berth. The loss to New England was, at the end, simply one of seven.

The beatings by New England and the Eagles, linebacker London Fletcher said in the locker room Monday night, weren't exactly comparable.

"That game against the Patriots was a methodical beating. This was just a flurry right from the beginning," he said. "New England, they just methodically scored points against us. We didn't have the personnel to match up with them going into that ballgame. We were down about three corners. We just couldn't match up with their personnel."

Against the Eagles?

"This game, division rivals, we felt pretty good coming into this game," Fletcher said. "We knew the opponent. They didn't do anything that wasn't expected as far as some of the stuff that they (had) been doing. The first play (an 88-yard touchdown pass) was a little change-up from what they had done. For the most part, all of the other stuff was the typical Philly, the first 15 plays."

Different blowouts. Fine. They're the same in this way – they're over. The loss counts only once. Teams rebound from terrible outings all the time.

Take the Dallas Cowboys (please). One week they're getting cheesed 45-7 by the Green Bay Packers, costing their coach his job. The next, they're beating the New York Giants 33-20, stopping the Giants' five-game winning streak.

How about the St. Louis Rams? They absorbed a 44-6 defeat at the hands (or paws) of the Detroit Lions, then turned around and beat the San Diego Chargers 20-17. The Seattle Seahawks? In consecutive weeks they fell 33-3 to the Oakland Raiders and 41-7 to the Giants. Then they went on the road to beat the Arizona Cardinals 36-18. The Seahawks lead the NFC West with a 5-4 record.

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Mauled at home by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 38-13. Nice way to enter the bye week. Next, though, they're 24-21 winners on the road over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bucs are 6-3, tied for second in the NFC South, 4-2 since the Steelers took them apart.

No, getting blown out, blown up and blown away at home isn't excusable or fun. Nor is it, as they say in the stock market, an indicator of future performance. It just makes the next game a little more important.

On his weekly radio show Tuesday, Donovan McNabb agreed that the Titans' game now fell into the "must win" category.

"I view it that way," he said. "I viewed this week that way. Although we're 4-5, we're still in the hunt a little bit."

The Redskins must decide if they're the hunters or the hunted, chasing big game or allowing big games. Predators or prey.

In the spirit of getting it together, let us prey. Upon others.


Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for Redskins.com and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at Redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.

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