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The Stupidest Streak In Sports Ended In A Really Stupid Way

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 21: Joey Slye #6 of the Washington Commanders celebrates with teammates after kicking the go-ahead field goal against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of the preseason game at FedExField on August 21, 2023 in Landover, Maryland.
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Preseason football used to be more of a thing. In the 1970s teams played six exhibition games, usually three home and three away, mostly to gouge season ticketholders into having to buy three extra games. That is still why teams play these games, mostly, but once the schedule increased to 16 games in 1978, the number of preseason games decreased. Starters still might play a little, but they also might not; I always remember my dad telling me that “the third preseason game is the good one.” A lot of life lessons from my father turned out to be true, but this one did not. The NFL now has a 17-game schedule and three preseason games for each team. Starters often just don’t play in any of those preseason games; the one I saw in person last week was absolutely terrible and ended in a tie.

But there was one bit of what I guess you could call intrigue to the preseason. Coming into last night, the Ravens had won 24 consecutive preseason games. They even had some superstitions around it. Coach John Harbaugh told ESPN’s Jamison Hensley that the team just doesn’t talk about it, for fear of jinxing it like a no-hitter. “It’s unspoken,” Harbaugh said, “until maybe after the game.” Maybe. Maybe some members of the Ravens were unaware they even had a preseason winning streak.

You will notice that the preceding sentence is written in the past tense. Look at the excited members of the Commanders in the photo atop this post. That’s Washington kicker Joey Slye celebrating with teammates after hitting the game-winning 49-yard field goal with nine seconds left. The Commanders ended the streak, an NFL record, with the 29-28 win. “One of the most peculiar NFL records—or ‘stupid’ if you ask the irreverent Washington Commanders—came to a close in dramatic and emotional fashion,” Hensley wrote. Hey, ending the streak is quite irreverent.

The win came at a cost, however. In the process of ending that streak, Ron Rivera turned the clock back to 1974, as the Commanders played most of their starters for the entire first half. Considering that, maybe Washington should’ve won by more than a point. Anyway, the cost was an injury to Terry McLaurin, who will have an MRI today after hurting his toe with about a minute left in the first half.

So: Congratulations to the Commanders! This may be the highlight of your season. Now that’s an irreverent remark.

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