Top 5 moments from the past 5 years in D.C.
The Nationals’ 8-game winning streak got me thinking: Where does it stack up with the top moments in D.C. sports over the last couple of years? While this streak didn’t make the cut, I still think that you’ll enjoy reliving these five moments from the last five years that made us cheer in Washington. If you think I’ve left anything out, comment on the post and let me know! Tomorrow, I’ll post the 5 worst moments in DC in the last 5 years.
5. Gilbert Arenas drops 60 points on the Los Angeles Lakers. My biggest regret as a Wizards fan was deciding to go to sleep before this game was over. Since it was on the West coast, it ended quite late – and being in 2006, this was when I still had a bedtime. The game started innocently enough before Gil went into overdrive. He unloaded shot after shot (most of which would have gotten a normal player cut for poor shot selection) and hit ridiculous pull-ups, three-pointers, and layups. He scored 16 points in overtime setting a new NBA record and helping the Wizards overcome Kobe Bryant’s 45 points in a 147-141 victory.
4. The Capitals overcome a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the New York Rangers. One year after their coming out party, the Capitals were out to erase memories of the previous season’s 7-game loss to the pesky Philadelphia Flyers. Unfortunately for the Caps, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was locked in and held them to 5 goals in 3 Rangers wins. But the Caps discovered Lundqvist’s weakness on his glove side and exposed it for the rest of the series. In Game 7, former MVP Sergei Federov scored the winning goal with just under five minutes left in the game to send the Verizon Center into a frenzy.
3. The Capitals win 14 games in a row. It began with a 5-4 shootout win over the Florida Panthers on January 13, 2010 and ended with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens (who would do other things to the Caps in the playoffs. Stay tuned for the “Worst Moments” post tomorrow) on February 10th. During the streak, the Caps averaged a stunning 4.86 goals per game and allowed just 2.07 goals against. They were four games shy of breaking the 1992-1993 Pittsburgh Penguins’ record of 17 wins in a row. The Caps finished the season with 121 points, finishing first in the league and winning the Southeast Division by a staggering 38 points.
2. Stephen Strasburg strikes out 14 batters in his major league debut. The Nationals had only one defining moment since moving to D.C. from Montreal: a 10-game winning streak in their debut season of 2005. The team struggled going forward, but those struggles resulted in the drafting of once-in-a-generation pitcher Stephen Strasburg. After blowing through the minor leagues, Strasburg took the mound on June 8, 2010 in front of a sellout crowd at Nationals Park. Seven innings and a team-record 14 strikeouts later, Strasburg emerged from the dugout for one of the most memorable curtain calls in D.C. sports history. The dominant performance will undoubtedly live on in Washington lore not only for its sheer brilliance, but also because the 21-year old kid with the rocket arm was able to exceed the enormous expectations placed on him.
1. The Redskins close out 2007 with an emotional 27-6 win over the Cowboys. If you think that a one, single Redskins win could not possibly make No. 1 on this list, I’m sure you have a good reason why. But there were several reasons why I think this moment deserves to be called the best moment in D.C. in the past five years. First of all, it capped an unbelievable 4-game winning streak led by veteran QB Todd Collins and guaranteed the Redskins a trip to Seattle for a wild card playoff game. Second, it was arguably one of the most dominant performances in the storied Redskins-Cowboys rivalry. The Redskins held Dallas to 147 total yards including a franchise record one rushing yard. Marion Barber III, who needed just 25 yards to reach 1,000 for the season, was held to -6 yards on six carries.
But this victory is No. 1 on my list for reasons greater than anything could happen on the field. Namely, it was a game that was dedicated by the Redskins to their fallen teammate, Sean Taylor, killed in his Miami condo in an attempted burglary earlier in the season. When Redskins RB Clinton Portis scored a touchdown in the first quarter, he lifted his jersey to reveal a t-shirt commemorating #21, his best friend and fellow teammates at the University of Miami.
But then-Redskins LT Chris Samuels made a declaration that touched the hearts and minds of Redskins fans all over the country: “I was on the sideline and the guys were talking about the score and then it hit me – we won by 21. I came into the locker room…and broke down in tears.”