How do you like your football? If it's fantastic finishes, it appears the Washington Redskins are for you.
In the Redskins' last six regular season games, dating back to the 2004 season, all six have been decided by three points or less. That, head coach Joe Gibbs was told on Monday, is an NFL record.
"That's never been done before in the NFL, so you'd have to say that this team is going to play a lot of close games," Gibbs said.
Already this season, all four of the Redskins games have come down to the fourth quarter.
In Week 1, the Redskins' defense stifled the Chicago Bears down the stretch, preserving a 9-7 win. Of course, everyone remembers the dramatic, 14-13 come-from-behind win at Dallas in Week. Following the bye, the Redskins defeated the Seattle Seahawks in overtime 20-17.
On Sunday, at Denver, the Redskins rallied again, only to fall short 21-19 to the Denver Broncos.
This season, Gibbs has noted an elevated intensity level by the team in the fourth quarter.
"It's been phenomenal all the way across the board," Gibbs said. "They go after it super hard. Whether it's on offense, defense or special teams, they make key plays when they have to late in the game."
On Sunday, the first key fourth-quarter play was by Chris Clemons, who came in and blocked a punt by Denver's Todd Sauerbrun. The Redskins took possession of the ball at the Broncos' 40-yard line with 6:30 left on the game clock.
The Redskins sideline erupted after the blocked punt. The Broncos still led the game 21-10 at that point, but it seemed that a momentum shift had occurred. Nick Novak connected on a 36-yard field goal to pull the Redskins to within 21-13.
The Redskins' defense forced a three and out on the Broncos' next possession. Brunell then led the Redskins' on a 13-play, 94-yard touchdown drive, capped by an 11-yard pass to H-back Chris Cooley. But a two-point conversion pass attempt was tipped by Denver linebacker Ian Gold and fell incomplete, ending the Redskins rally.
Left tackle Chris Samuels said that, in previous years, he has noticed doubt among his teammates on whether the team could come back in games.
"I've always felt that we could win, no matter what the situation," Samuels said. "But I'd look around at the other guys and you could see it in their eyes that they weren't too confident. We've cleared those guys out there here and we feel like we can win."
Of course, Gibbs would prefer that the Redskins win in more convincing fashion.
"I would hope that we could start the game that way," Gibbs said. "Certainly I admire guys the way we fight in that environment, with the crowd, and then we tool the ball the length of the field and give us a chance."
But playing close games also means there is little margin for error. The Redskins had 10 penalties for 67 yards against Denver and the offense turned the ball over once, leading to a Broncos touchdown. Receivers also dropped several passes in the game. Novak had a 38-yard field goal blocked.
"Our guys have to be smart, understand that, and correct that, if we're going to win those kinds of games," Gibbs said. "I think we're going to play a lot of close games this year. I thin anybody can beat us, and we can probably beat anybody else. That's the way it's going to be."