Washington Redskins wide receiver Brandon Banks (16) gets tackled by Minnesota Vikings cornerback Brandon BCredit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
LANDOVER, Md. (Elfin's Endzon/WUSA) -- To steal from that old chestnut of a song, "Try to remember the kind of December where the Redskins won ... "
The Redskins won big in December under Hall of Fame coaches George Allen (13-6) and Joe Gibbs (33-11 during his first tenure, 13-7 during his second tenure), but those days seem oh so long ago for Washington fans in the wake of this past Sunday's 33-26 home loss to lowly Minnesota which dropped the Redskins to 5-10 overall and 1-3 this month.
During two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan's depressing first two seasons, the Redskins are 2-7 in December, 9-13 otherwise. They were nearly identical during neophyte predecessor Jim Zorn's underwhelming two seasons, going 2-8 in December and 10-12 otherwise.
All told the last four years, that's 4-15 in December compared to 19-25 from September-November.
What gives, guys?
"I think some of it's a landslide effect," said safety Reed Doughty, one of just six players on the active roster who was part of Washington's last winning December back in 2007. "When you've got a losing record, you're out of the playoffs and it's late December, you gotta find out who really wants to play."
Apparently not the Redskins on the heels of a resounding 23-10 upset victory at the New York Giants the Sunday before the loss to the Vikings.
"Playoff teams, they win in December," said defensive co-captain London Fletcher, along with nose tackle Barry Cofield the only Redskins with Super Bowl rings (won with prior teams, of course). "Maybe (our) guys lose a little bit of focus when it gets late in the year."
Offensive co-captain Santana Moss said he refuses to lose focus no matter the record. Perhaps that's why he and fullback Mike Sellers are the only active Redskins who've been part of a Washington playoff victory back in 2005.
"I just try to finish up strong, no matter the situation," said Moss, second on the active roster in seniority with seven seasons in Washington. "We played into the postseason two years when I've been here so I know it can be done."
So does special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander, but he, like everyone else who was part of that 2007 playoff run, would do anything to avoid a similar impetus: the shooting death of star safety Sean Taylor that galvanized the Redskins for the four consecutive December triumphs over the Chicago Bears, Giants, Vikings and Dallas Cowboys that produced a wild card berth.
"That was a special circumstance where we rallied around (the death) of one of our teammates," Alexander said. "We shouldn't need something like that to help us get to the playoffs."
Nor should the players need special incentive to play well in Sunday's seemingly meaningless season finale at Philadelphia against an Eagles team that also can't qualify for postseason but can finish at .500.
"You always want to go out there and put your best foot forward no matter where you're at," Alexander said. "If you go out there and show bad, you're messing yourself up for the following year as far as being here or being with any other team. You have to go out there as a professional, like you have the playoffs on the line."
Not enough of Alexander's teammates concur.
WUSA-9's Redskins Insider, David Elfin, has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of five books on the Redskins including the new "Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History."