Elation followed by despair. It’s the feeling that DC sports fans have become all too familiar with in the last three months. It started with the Washington Nationals NLDS Game 5 collapse and ended with the Washington Redskins loss to the Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card round. But how similar were those games, really?
Now, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to compare two different games from two different sports. But humor me for a moment. On that fateful night in October, the Nats had the game all but locked up through the first half of the game. They scored six runs in the first two innings. Unfortunately, they saw their lead get whittled away by reliever after reliever.
Last night, the Redskins did much the same. They came out with two quick touchdowns but then Robert Griffin III reinjured his knee, and it was never the same. The Seahawks scored 24 unanswered points to walk away with the victory.
The feel of these two games were incredibly similar. I was at Nationals Park for Game 5, and although I was watching the Redskins Wild Card game at home, you could feel the fan’s pain after watching the lead slip away. And it all culminated with RGIII’s brutal injury. If you’re a fan of both teams, you probably had that same pit in your stomach twice in the last three months.
Both teams were dark horses to make the playoffs to start the season, though the Redskins probably had the worse odds. Sure, the Redskins saw their lead disappear after the first quarter and dealt with an injury to their franchise player. For me, I truly believe the Nats loss was worse. The Nats had a lead through eight and two-thirds innings; they had the Cardinals all but wrapped up with their best reliever on the mound. After they won the division with the best record in all of baseball, they had higher hopes and expectations.
The goal of this post isn’t to say that Nats fans had it worse. I actually hope it makes you feel hope and optimism for the seasons to come for both teams. The pain from Game 5 is just starting to subside for me, and I expect those of you who are diehard Redskins fans will have the same kind of mourning period. But keep your chin up. Your team has shown they can compete in the playoffs. Here’s hoping both the Nats and Skins have deeper playoff runs in 2013.
I agree that the Nats loss felt worse because of the way they lost it. I was also there (way up there) in the stands for Game 5, and I had my camera out in the 9th ready to capture their victory celebration, even as I told myself, "you're jinxing it!" But walking slowly down the ramps as I left the park with my wife and sisters, I immediately thought to myself, "Great run. Fun team. They will be better next season." And I hold that thought today.
I'm a lifelong Skins fan, having grown up in RFK and been there for multiple NFC championship game wins. While we gave up our tix several years ago, and while there hasn't been much to cheer for over the last dozen years, I was reinvigorated by RGIII. The Skins loss in itself on Sunday doesn't seem as bad to me -- they had a great run and lost to a good team. But what does make it seem worse to me than the Nats loss is that we don't know if RGIII will ever be the same player again. I don't have the same optimism about "next season" for the Skins as I do about the Nats, who should be good for several years to come.