Redskins' cream-puff schedule surpasses '54 Giants

BY foxsports • October 16, 2009

So, Frank Gifford, are you bummed out that your 1954 New York Giants are about to lose a place in the record books to the 2009 Washington Redskins? "Not at all," the Hall of Fame running back said with a laugh. "Particularly when you didn't know you had one." When Gifford remembers the '54 Giants, he thinks about a knee injury he sustained late in the season that contributed to the team's struggles down the stretch. What never occurred to him - until a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday - was that New York opened that season with five consecutive games against winless opponents. "We only had 12 teams," Gifford said. That's right. While the present-day Redskins' lineup of 0-fer opponents - culminating with record-breaking No. 6, the Kansas City Chiefs (0-5) on Sunday - comes from a kitty of 32 teams, the NFL party numbered only a dozen 5 1/2 decades ago. It helps that some of the opponents were reruns. The Giants opened with a 41-10 win over the Chicago Cardinals, then lost 20-14 to the Baltimore Colts (0-1 entering the game). They then rolled to a 51-21 rout of the Washington Redskins (0-2), beat the Cardinals (0-3) again 31-17 and the Redskins (0-4) again 24-7. They finally faced a team with a win in Week 6, losing 24-14 to the eventual NFL champions, the Cleveland Browns (2-2). So, in review, the Giants did what a team is supposed to do when playing struggling teams: They won, going 4-1 against the winless. Gifford's knee injury - he says he twisted it in a collision with teammate Kyle Rote, who was blocking on the play and suffered a concussion - contributed to a late-season swoon, so New York had to settle for a 7-5 mark and no playoffs. This year's Redskins, by contrast, have failed miserably to take advantage of their soft schedule. Granted, their first game was - sure enough - against the Giants, who are still unbeaten. But then they barely beat the St. Louis Rams 9-7, lost to the Detroit Lions 19-14, squeaked past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-13 and fell to the Carolina Panthers 20-17. So, even though the record is a middling 2-3, the Redskins have already reached the exasperation point. It should have been a lot of fun setting this quirky record, but it sure hasn't. "You're facing teams that ain't won a game," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "We gave Detroit their first win. We gave Carolina their first win. We can't give Kansas City their first win." That said, the streak is a no-win situation all around. If Washington were 4-1, the football world would shrug its shoulders and say, "So what? Look who they've played." Because they've lost more than they've won, the Redskins are considered to be an extreme disappointment, and coach Jim Zorn is already on the coaching hot seat. So, for good or bad, the streak must come to an end. Unless something unprecedented happens that forces Philadelphia (3-1) to forfeit all of its victories, the Redskins will finally play a team with a win when they host the Eagles on Oct. 26. Of course, Washington wouldn't be able to set the record if there weren't so many struggling franchises in the NFL. Gifford, who was a longtime announcer on "Monday Night Football" and continues to follow the game closely, has noticed the lack of parity as compared with his own era, when there were far fewer teams with much smaller rosters. "Today, to fill out a roster, you've got a lot of guys playing that probably shouldn't be playing," Gifford said. "All the guys I played with were really good."