The Washington Capitals salvaged a dismal weekend for D.C. sports fans. They were one of the few local college or pro teams that won this weekend 7 - 4 over Florida. In spite of injuries to key players including their young star, Alex Ovechkin, the team maintained its 2nd place position of the Eastern Conference of the NHL with the win. There was little else to feel good about in the Nation’s Capitol unless one was a supporter of the House Health Bill which passed by a thin margin.
The football results were horrible again as the Washington Redskins fought their way, literally, to their 4th loss in a row by 31 – 17 to the Atlanta Falcons. At least they made it entertaining by showing their fans that they still had some fight in them as they slammed the Falcons quarterback after he had crossed the sidelines, and then had to stand their ground against the outraged Falcons coach and players. If it had been a boxing match, it would have been a draw. The reason for the loss continued to be the same as a porous line allowed Falcon rushers to knock Skins quarterback, Jason Campbell, out of the game twice. This was combined with the normally dependable defense allowing big plays against them. The loss left the team struggling for answers. It was rumored that the some Redskin fans had travelled to Atlanta for the game so that they could display signs which have been banned by Redskins management at home games.
The local college football teams also saw a continuation of their losing ways. Virginia was embarrassed by the Miami Hurricanes 52 – 17, and the Maryland Terps fell to North Carolina State 38 – 31. In the Virginia game, a solid 1st half turned into an ugly 2nd half that saw Miami score 28 unanswered points. The loss which dropped the Cavs to 3 – 6 for the season and 2 – 3 in the ACC conference increases the pressure on Coach Al Groh who may be gone after the season if the School’s alumni have their way. In a “win now or else” environment, the young Virginia team which has 12 freshmen on the roster could not keep up with the speed of the Miami team.
The situation at Virginia mirrors Maryland’s as injuries have forced the team to play younger and inexperienced players. They lost their starting quarterback, Chris Turner, at the end of the 2nd quarter with a knee injury, but were competitive throughout the game under backup, Jamarr Robinson, who saw his 1st real action of the season. Robinson had an opportunity to tie the game late in the 4th quarter but was sacked and hit hard on the final play of the game. The losses ended the bowl aspiration of the team as they fell to 2 – 7, 1 – 4 ACC. Coach Ralph Fridgen in his 9th year as head coach of the team faces similar unrest as Coach Groh from an impatient alumni who have been accustomed to successful and bowl bound programs. Fridgen who now is looking at a 4th losing season out of the last 6 expressed his perspective "It has not been a good year. I am not feeling real good right now."
The only college bright spot was the win by Virginia Tech on Thursday night beating a mediocre East Carolina team 16 – 3 to raise their record to 6 – 3. While Tech had early BCS championship hopes before the season, they are now hoping to finish with victories in their last 3 games and make it to a lucrative bowl game. In the ACC Coastal Division where Tech plays, Georgia Tech which beat the Hokies 2 weeks ago is the likely winner of the Division.
In Phoenix last night, the Washington Wizards lost to the Suns by 102 – 90 in a game that was close only through the middle of the 2nd quarter. This was the teams’ 4th loss in a row after a promising start. The return of star Gilbert Arenas has done little to cure last year’s losing ways. While he is undoubtedly a prolific scorer, Arenas has failed to involve his teammates in the offensive flow. This has been most obvious with Caron Butler who is often open, but is not noticed by Arenas or Randy Foye, another shoot 1st player. New coach Flip Saunders has to develop a more team oriented offense before the Wizards will be able to beat the better teams in the league.
D.C. sports fans who do not follow the Capitals had nothing to cheer about this weekend. They may want to shift their interest to hockey if they want a team to cheer for.