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Extremeskins at the Eagles Game (w/AUDIO & PHOTO LIBRARIES!)


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Extremeskins at the Game: The Dream Lives....


Now that’s how you start off a New Year. :)

Like every other Skins fan, I entered this weekend with a little knot in my gut. We all knew there was no way we should lose to a Donovan McNabb-less Eagles team playing for nothing but home field pride. We also all knew, deep in the Redskin-recesses of our brains, anything’s possible. And though most of us told ourselves ‘these Redskins are different’ (and damn them, they ARE) and will get their business taken care of, we forgot one other small thing – these Eagles are 1 year removed from a Super Bowl. McNabb or no McNabb, these were no slouches we beat.

But entering a wet and dreary Philly Saturday evening, in-depth analysis wasn’t on my mind – I was just thrilled to be flying into the Devil’s den with something to play for. I had a lot of thrills this weekend. As Blade mentioned, standing at the hotel bar a few feet away from the great one, Mr. Jurgensen himself, I did what I was supposed to do. Remained respectfully distant, listened, didn’t speak, and tried to appear as non-fan-like as possible. Then it hit me. I’m standing next to a childhood hero and may never have the chance to speak to him again. So I thrust out my hand and thanked him for all the Sunday afternoon smiles he brought to my youthful face. I also got to give Larry Michaels my sincere thanks for the outstanding a job he’s done covering our Redskins this year.

We headed out early Sunday morning. In addition to a crucial NFC East football game, Philadelphia also had something called a ‘Mummer’s Parade’ on tap. We were unable to find any native Philadelphian who could actually tell us what the hell a ‘Mummer’ was, but after spotting some of the parade participants, we are pretty sure they are some sort of robots from ancient Egypt who wear gaudy clothes and carry banjo’s and incredibly small saxophones. Blade claimed he received a ‘Mummer’ once in college and hasn’t had one since, but that is a story for another time. As we wound our way through the labyrinthine mean streets of South Philly, Blade and I began getting excited. We hit the D lots at Lincoln Financial Field (‘The Linc’) around 10 a.m. To our amazement, it was already filled 2/3rds with Burgundy and Gold Tailgaters. We quickly picked out Dave Halter and spent the next hour or so hanging with some great fans, including Skinslover, Skinsforlife260, Mark the Homer and his significant other, and many many more, including ½ the membership of the Funky Four (great guys). We had more than a few Philly fans confide to us that they wouldn’t mind losing to us, since it meant seeing the Cowboys eliminated. We understood. Couldn’t help but admiring Mark the Homer’s ‘I love Sonny’ button – a trinket from the Kilmer-Jurgensen rivalry days.

Wanting to get the lay of the land inside the stadium, Blade and I headed in an hour or so later. Enemy territory or not, ‘The Linc’ is a beautiful place to play a football game. Sparkling new, its got all the amenities. Eagle’s fans have definitely got a nice place to watch a game. The pressbox was huge, with flat screen TVs everywhere. As we checked our internet connection, read through our press materials, and grabbed a bite to eat, we kept mental track of the playoff scenarios unfolding on multiple channels. Internet feuding aside, Jason LaCanfora of the Washington Post went out of his way to say hello (as did Bram Weinstein), and wish us a Happy New Year, confirming what I already knew – these guys are not only talented writers, but are class acts. Looking down on the field from the box, a shiver ran up my spine. In full flashback mode, I noticed Brunell and Ramsey, down on the field hours before kickoff, leisurely tossing a ball back and forth. They were wearing their road warm-up suits, what I endearingly call their ‘jammies’ – which they also wore warming up prior to the Giants debacle. Bad juju I thought, and then reminded myself – these aren’t those Redskins. Still, it brought back bad memories. Another 30 minutes later, we decide to head down to the field and start getting ready for real pre-game warm-ups. As we exited the glassed in rows of the pressbox, I ran smack dab into Doug Williams. Yeah. THE Doug Williams. Again, my fanboy instincts rushed to the forefront. You don’t just walk by DOUG WILLIAMS. Not if you are fanboy. I shook his hand and thanked him for ‘making my childhood’. Even with the knowledge that he was here, not as a Redskin’s dignitary, but scouting us for the Tampa Bay Bucs, I was thrilled to meet him.

Entering the stadium, first thing I noticed was the airiness and wide-openness of the place, reinforced by the open gaps left in each corner (an almost inexplicable design choice given the ravenous desire most owners have for increased seating and revenues). The second thing I noticed was that it was pretty cold, even at midday, with a 5-10 mph wind. It looked then like a good day to pound the football. Which brings me to the third thing that struck me - that the sidelines were very very wet. Although the natural turf field looked dry, one of the stories of this game would prove to be the poor footing, something the Redskins struggled to contend with all evening long.

The pre-game stands were filled with Redskins fans, almost as if they couldn’t bear to wait out in the parking lots, tailgating or no tailgating, they wanted this game to begin as soon as possible. I was happy to see an extremeskin’s vet, Dustin Fox, on the sideline and get a chance to catch up with him. Other pre-game spottings included Daniel Snyder (who got a rousing welcome from some endzone Redskin’s fans), Vinny Cerrato, Ron Jaworski (who, don’t tell anyone, I firmly believe roots for the Skins), and Troy Aikman.

Redskin’s fans were definitely in a festive, positive mood. We weren’t going to lose this game. The belief was etched on every face I peered into. As game-time neared, we got the news that both the Bucs and Panthers had won. That brought a smile to my face, as I’ve felt all along we can win in Tampa Bay, and have good karma on our side – the God’s owed us one there. Now all we had to do was deliver on our end.

As player introductions began, I made a silent prayer. For our soldiers and Marines in Iraq, for world peace, and that we would never have a big goofy stuffed mascot (or 3 of them) running around FedEx Field. Ever. Watching 3 different versions of cartoonish Eagle mascots careen around the field, I almost felt embarrassed for our arch rivals fans. Almost. I also noticed that the Eagles too have some lovely young ladies cheering for them. They’re not the First Ladies of Football, but they weren’t bad either. Watching our bench as kickoff ticked closer, I thought the guys looked strangely unemotional. Detached. Tense. Maybe even tight. I understood the feeling. And I hoped I was misreading it. This game was huge and everybody knew it. It was, in a sense, a dreaded scenario – playing a team with nothing to lose on the road, with everything on the line. I hoped the guys were up for the challenge.

I was glad when we lost the coin toss as I felt it put our strength on the field first. Over and over again today, the defense showed it is the heart and soul of this team. And from the first offensive play from scrimmage, as an easy roll-out completion sailed wildly out of Mark Brunell’s hand over the receiver’s head, it was clear we weren’t going to be a scoring juggernaut on this evening. I struggled to determine whether Brunell’s knee was bothering him, or whether the Eagle’s defense and secondary was much better than advertised. In the biggest game in a decade, we looked out of synch and we looked flat. Maybe the jammies had been some sort of evil portent. The Redskin’s struggles were only one part of the 1st half story. Eagle’s QB McMahon looked cool, calm, and collected, and was playing lights out, repeatedly shredding the Skin’s secondary, while the Redskins could not get untracked. There were vicious hits taking place on nearly every play. At one point or another, I spotted ½ a dozen or more Skins (including Brunell, Cooley, Portis, Jimoh, Salave’a, and Arrington) limp off the field after a big hit. Someone had forgotten to tell these Eagles this game didn’t matter. But the Redskins were hardly rolling over, as Sean Taylor, Prioleau, Ryan Clark, and others handed out some physical punishment of their own. The battle against the horrible state of the Linc’s field was constant. During every TV break, team assistants were out on the field, trying to clear grass and mud from players cleats. As the 1st half ended, I watched the Redskins trickle off the field, down but not out. And I wondered what Joe Gibbs and his staff would say to the boys in the locker room. Although I was downright cold by this point, I stayed on the sidelines running through the 2nd half scenarios in my head. My biggest fear, imagined I assume by the cult of burgundy and gold fans across the country, was the Redskins gaining a small lead and surrendering the ball with 5 minutes to play. The horrible visage of the long, efficient, time-killing Eagles drive to score the season-crushing TD as time expired. Did Gibbs, I wondered, still have the magic to extend this incredible season-ending streak of wins to 5?

The team came out for the 2nd half. This time, though, they didn’t look nervous. They didn’t look ‘tight’. They didn’t look doomed. They looked determined. And determined they were. They weren’t screaming at each other, they weren’t doing cheesy chest-bumping unit huddles and pointing to the sky. They just looked steely-eyed and ready. Whether Gibbs, Williams, Bugel, Blache and company had said all the right things in the locker room, or whether the players just decided this was their season to decide, the dynamic had changed. And they seized control of the game. On defense they stuffed the run, and the dinged-up, makeshift secondary did just enough to prevent the big downfield passing plays that had put them in a hole early. The refs, inexplicably, let the players play. Close calls went uncalled. Controversy, for the most part, did not rear its ugly head. The Redskins took it up a couple notches and out-toughed a physical opponent. On offense, the Redskins did the amazing – they stuck with the run. They pounded the ball. The only non-grass-stained part of Clinton Portis by the start of the 4th Quarter was his rear end. Ladell Betts joined in the fun and pounded the holes with fierce determination (gaining 30 crucial yards on just 5 carries to spot Portis). Brunell hung in there, and was able to get the job done, making the Eagles pay for turnovers, and surviving a hit that went largely unnoticed. As he rolled-out and got rid of the ball, he was slung so hard to the turf, his head bounced violently off the ground a few feet away from me. Most QBs, I thought at that moment, don’t get up from this hit. But he not only got up (although I hazard to guess he may not have been able to recite his street address at the time), but went right back to it.

The Redskins were doing it. They were winning the biggest game in a decade. And when Sean Taylor swooped in, athletically and miraculously gathering up an Eagle’s fumble, it was fitting he ended his furious tear towards the endzone with a Superman leap. Blade and I, suddenly finding ourselves on the sideline together at the exact moment Taylor picked up the fumble, raced with him down the sideline, pounding on each other in jubilation every step of the way. And when he’d scored his amazing game-turning touchdown, Sean Taylor didn’t run to his teammates or coaches, he ran right to the stands to celebrate with fans. Wow. I’m not going to lie, the rest of it is a blur, and I swallowed back tears as I watched. Players, coaches, team officials, the Redskin’s sideline crews, all were overcome with joy, hugging, screaming, celebrating. Standing as close as I could to the bench area, watching the Redskins bench erupt in joy, is a moment I will never forget. I even demanded a handshake from the usually grumpy and intimidating Casey Husband who was all smiles.

As the final seconds ticked down, and the celebration exploded onto the field, I just stood there grinning and enjoying the scene. No longer concerned with being ‘professional’ and un-fanlike, I ran to every player I could find, Jon Jansen, Casey Rabach, Ladell Betts, Chris Samuels, and Patrick Ramsey, screaming ‘Thank You!!!’. Redskin’s fans had taken over the area over and around the visitor’s tunnel. They screamed joyously as every player and coach ran off, screaming a raucous rendition of ‘Hail to the Redskins’ that again brought tears to my eyes. And I was once again treated to the sight of that beautiful Redskin’s helmet thrust skyward in triumph. Sunday, January 2nd, 2006 was one hell of a day to be alive ladies and gentlemen.

In the locker room after the game, there were smiles, there was relief, and there was celebration. But it was restrained, muted celebration. I don’t think these guys are done. I asked player after player, what did Joe Gibbs say to spark that 2nd half performance? What did you guys do differently? The answer was uniform. He didn’t need to say much. These guys knew they could do it, they believe the can and will do it. And they went out and did it. Jon Jansen was particularly eloquent after the game, and expressed how happy he was for the guys who’ve been with this team all along, who’ve finally seen their hard work and pain validated by success and how much more special this year is because they’re led by not only a great coach, but a great human being – Joe Gibbs.

Back at the hotel, after feasting on the main course, we settled down for the after-dinner mint, watching Dallas lose their meaningless season finale. After a celebratory ale, Blade and I got up to leave the hotel bar, to do a little work and bed down for the precious 4 hrs of sleep we’d earned before our inevitable trip to the airport and home. On our way out, we heard a fellow bar patron remark to his friend ‘Where did all those Redskins fans come from today??’.

We’ve been here all along I thought. We’ve been here all along.

Thank you my 2005 Washington Redskins, coaches, players, and staff, for making us all proud to be a fan of the Burgundy and Gold all over again.


Post-game Audio/Interviews

Click HERE to hear Mark Brunell's post-game comments

Click HERE to hear Clinton Portis' post-game comments

Click HERE to hear Jon Jansen's post-game comments

Click HERE to hear Phillip Daniel's post-game comments

Click HERE to hear Santana Moss' post-game comments

Click HERE to hear Chris Samuel's post-game comments


Extreme Game Pics

Click HERE to see Pre-Game Pics

Click HERE to see Pre-Game Pics #1

Click HERE to see Pre-Game Pics #2

Click HERE to see Pre-Game Pics #3

Click HERE to see Game Pics #1

Click HERE to see Game Pics #2

Click HERE to see Game Pics #3

Click HERE to see Game Pics #4

Click HERE to see Game Pics #5

Click HERE to see Game Pics #6

Click HERE to see Game Pics #7

Click HERE to see Game Pics #8

Click HERE to see Sweet Victory Pics

Click HERE to see Eagle's Cheerleader Pics

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Sorry I missed you guys again. We were walking around trying to find tickets. We finally got some under face value at about 4:00. Yes we were being cheap. Some day I'll get to a tailgate early.

Regarding the ridiculous mascot, I'm still torn between their mascot and their "fight" song as to which is more embarrassing to them. In a sea of green in the upper deck, dressed head to toe in burgundy and gold, verbally threatened over and over again, I couldn't help but laugh out loud each time they played that nonsense. Combined with the mascot, it was so much like a scene from any number of morning pre-school kids shows I just couldn't help myself.

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Tarhog, you and blade, and DH, TK and Art with these graphic pictures all season has made me feel like I was there.

Thank you all so much for this insight. I know for a fact you mean it when you say it was pleasure. :D:D:D

From Blade's Monkey Dance, to being on the field with the players the moment we make the playoffs, this season must have been bigger than anything you could have possibly imagined.

Again, Thank you and on the Playoffs! :cheers:

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