A huge year for D.C. sports

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NFL,Redskins,MLB,Nationals,NHL,Capitals,D.C. United,Craig Stouffer

In a town starved for legitimately thrilling sports moments, the District finally enjoyed its share in 2012. For years, the Capitals had been carrying the freight, and they again came through during their two rounds in the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring. But this time the other local teams have done their part, too.

That starts with the Redskins, who at 3-6 were en route to a fifth consecutive year outside the playoffs. The emergence of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III always made this season seem different, and Washington won its next six to set up a game vs. Dallas at home Sunday for the NFC East title. But the best moment so far may have come without Griffin, who was out with an injury when rookie backup Kirk Cousins came on to throw a touchdown pass in the final minute against Baltimore on Dec. 9, punched in a two-point conversion to tie the game and then watched Richard Crawford's overtime punt return set up the game-winning field goal as FedEx Field erupted.

RFK Stadium also shook like old times when D.C. United clinched its first playoff berth since 2007. With 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario injured, United was unbeaten in its final seven matches, securing the postseason with a 3-2 win over Columbus in front of a raucous, reduced capacity sellout of 19,647. That was trumped by a game that was never played. More than 700 fans on 11 buses only could sing and commiserate after trekking in a nor'easter to Harrison, N.J., for a playoff match against the New York Red Bulls that was postponed for weather-related reasons 40 minutes after it was supposed to kick off.

Meanwhile, the Nationals made a summer full of memories on the way to their first National League East title since baseball returned to Washington in 2005. They won so many games -- a franchise record 98 -- that they all seemed to blend together. But none was more memorable than Game 4 of the NL Division Series against St. Louis. Facing elimination and with the game tied at 1-1, Jayson Werth punctuated an epic 13-pitch at-bat to open the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off home run. It was a genuine October moment -- the city's first since 1933.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner