The great tease is over.
For nearly one year, coach Mike Shanahan made Washington Redskins fans think this would be a good season -- maybe a wild-card year and at least a .500 record.
Instead, the Washington Redskins limped into the offseason like a paroled prisoner quietly passing through the prison gates before anyone notices. The New York Giants played a little better. Neither deserved the postseason, so they turned Sunday's regular-season finale into a preseason game.
Too bad an announced 76,189 people, about one-third visiting fans, watched the snoozer at FedEx. The Giants outlasted the Redskins 17-14 in a game that most fans forgot the second they reached the parking lot.
Then again, the dull game was fitting for a season in which the most memorable events happened off the field. Albert Haynesworth made more headlines squabbling with Shanahan before being suspended the final four games. He was the biggest bust of the year. Donovan McNabb finished the season on the bench. Clinton Portis was on injured reserve again.
If nothing else, the final game proved Rex Grossman isn't the Redskins' future. He fumbled twice and threw a horrendous pick that was nearly returned for a touchdown. That's seven turnovers in three games. Sure Grossman threw two touchdowns, including a career-best 62-yarder to Anthony Armstrong, but he also left two scores on the field with his turnovers. Shanahan defended Grossman, saying turnovers are a team's fault. That tips his thoughts about re-signing Grossman -- a free agent -- as next year's starter despite his shaky finish.
In a season in which 12 games were decided by a touchdown or less, it was yet another contest the Redskins could have won. A missed short field goal was the obvious difference, but fumbling two long drives away was even more costly.
The Redskins could have been a contender. They just didn't have the finishing touch. The whole season just felt so mechanical instead of passionate.
Is this what passes for progress? Sure the Redskins won two more games than in 2009, but it was still another last-place finish in the NFC East. A 2-7 finish. A half-empty stadium.
It was another underachieving season, one that barely counts as progress over the previous year. Jim Zorn's final season was as chaotic as humanly possible; this one was simply a dull effort. It either will be remembered as a bridge to better days or just another transitional year that led to nothing.
The Redskins found contributing young players in Brandon Banks, Anthony Armstrong, Anthony Bryant, Trent Williams and Kevin Barnes. But the faces of the franchise -- Portis, Haynesworth and McNabb -- are surely gone.
Asked whether the team will undergo heavy change over the offseason, Shanahan continued to be evasive, saying evaluations over the next two weeks will determine his personnel moves.
Hopefully, Shanahan watches the same film as everyone else.
Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more at TheRickSniderReport.com and on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.