Pre-game, the weather in the parking lot was blustery and cold, and I think we were all wishing we'd brought one or two additional layers. But once we got into the stadium it felt a good ten degrees warmer (the wind stopped blowing, and the rain held off), and it was actually quite comfortable throughout the game.
Our seats were amazing -- eight rows back, on the 45 yard line. We were all commenting what a difference it makes to sit that close to the action. The whole scale of the game becomes much more human: we watched the individual Chiefs players joking with each other, and we got a particular kick out of the kicker and punter buddying-up on the end of the bench. Dad was highly amused by special teams player Studebaker, who appeared to think that he was an honorary coach even though he only played on punts and kickoffs. We also watched Mike Vrabel throughout the game; Vrabel played on at least two of the Patriots Super Bowl winners, and his demeanor projected a sense of "I've been there and done it, and I am the man."
The Chiefs -- like each of our previous opponents -- were winless coming into the game. Their defense was ranked 32nd in the league, and their offense was not much better. Yet somehow we were absolutely incapable of moving the ball on them (thank goodness that Shawn Suisham is 8 of 8 on field goals this year, or we'd be putting even fewer points on the scoreboard).
At halftime, Jim Zorn benched Jason Campbell, and the crowd got pumped up by a pretty pass from Todd Collins to Santana Moss during our first drive. Alas, the offensive production never materialized, and in the end Collins didn't have any more success finding his receivers (or finding time to throw -- our offensive line is remarkably porous) than Campbell.
Although our offense was terrible, I think all of us expected that somehow we'd pull out the victory in the end -- not least because the Chiefs couldn't find the red zone (much less the end zone) either (although to be honest, both Chap and I were impressed by Larry Johnson's speed -- I thought Johnson was completely over-the-hill, but he had several really nice runs).
When the Chiefs ultimately sealed the deal with a couple of minutes left courtesy of a Ryan Succop field goal, the crowd was stunned. In Monday's Post, Thomas Boswell captured the moment:
With less than four minutes to play at FedEx Field, the sparse remains of the Redskins crowd stood as one. And they did nothing.We were disappointed with the loss, but one good thing about driving home from a Redskins loss is listening to the post-game lamentations on the radio. All in all it was a terrific day. And I'm definitely sitting lower-level midfield in the future -- that was awesome.
They did not cheer. They did not exhort their team to block a long field goal by a Kansas City rookie named Ryan Succop, the final player picked in the last NFL draft, which would put the awful Chiefs, losers of 28 of their previous 30 games, ahead 9-6.
The crowd did not boo, either. Instead, in a sight I can never remember at a sporting event, the fans spontaneously shared a moment of silence, a communal mortification, as they stood witness to the bleakest moment -- all factors considered -- in the history of the Redskins franchise.