There are two things in this world that manage to bring people together more than anything else: sports and the death of a loved one.
The 2007 Washington Redskins have experience with both, storming to a strong finish by winning the final four games of their season after attending the funeral of fallen teammate Sean Taylor.
Led by veteran quarterback Todd Collins, the Redskins enter the NFC playoffs as the hottest team in the conference.
Collins teams up with running back Clinton Portis to pose a big threat to opposing defenses. Portis became the first rusher to tally 100 yards against the Dallas Cowboys this season in the Redskins' 27-6 victory in Week 17.
The Redskins will face the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs this Saturday—and may have a little revenge in mind.
It was these same Seahawks that knocked the Redskins out of the 2005 playoffs with a 20-10 win in Seattle, after Washington beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wild Card Weekend.
A big difference between that game and this years': Sean Taylor.
Taylor tied for the most tackles on the team in the 2005 Divisional Round matchup with seven tackles—including six solo.
But what the Redskins miss from Taylor’s play on the field seems to be made up in spirit.
How else could Portis, Taylor’s best friend on the team, turn into the top back in the NFC over the last month?
How else could the Redskins beat Dallas by 21 points to make the playoffs, after defensive end Phillip Daniels’s wife showed a picture to the team of the former safety sporting his number ‘21’ jersey with a signature that said “Just Beat Dallas”?
Why else would Portis tuck one of the ’21’ towels in his jersey like a bib, as the clock ticked down in the Redskins’ win?
This team can feel Taylor’s presence. They are playing some of the most-inspired football the league has seen in a long time.
This was never more apparent than when Portis used a touchdown celebration as a opportunity to display a tribute to his teammate. Portis lifted up his jersey to reveal a collage of Taylor pictures on his cotton white t-shirt.
Washington is a team to keep your eye on in the playoffs. Seattle has a very talented team, and is a tough place to play. But if the Seahawks turn their heads on the Skins then…
They’ll hit them harder than Sean Taylor.