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Capital Games' Year in Review: Best Moments of 2012

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Throughout the week, you've been able to look back at 2012 in D.C. sports.

    First, you made it through reliving your worst nightmares (I apologize for that, by the way), then the best quotes, tweets and games of the year. Your patience has been appreciated, so to end the week, I plan on reminiscing about this year's greatest sports moments.

    Just so that I'm clear, "best moments" doesn't necessarily mean "best plays." Yes, there are some breathtaking feats of athleticism detailed below, but sometimes, it's what happens as a result of a particular play (or in the case of one entry, a freak snowstorm) that creates the meaningful moments that we cherish most.

    Not everything went our way around here in 2012, but there was plenty to cheer about.

    That being said, you survived the Mayan Apocalypse, so celebrate by recalling those special moments.

    Honorable mention No. 2: Roger Bernadina's game-ending catch against the Houston Astros 

    If this was a post commemorating the "Holy $@%&, how the $@!# did he do that?!" plays of the year, this would be No. 1, hands down. The game itself meant very little; it was a win over the league-worst Astros in the beginning of August. Yet, it was a harbinger of things to come for an incredibly special Nationals team. 


    Honorable mention No. 1: D.C. United joins their fans in the stands after their playoff match against the New York Red Bulls is postponed

    (Photo credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

    I've mentioned this game throughout the week, but as I said in the introduction, moments don't necessarily equate to plays. After around 700 United supporters bussed up I-95 to watch their favorite team battle in the MLS Playoffs (on a Wednesday no less), only to have the match postponed due to snow, the team jumped into the stands at Red Bull Arena and joined their fans in a show of solidarity that was incredibly touching. 


    5. Robert Griffin III's 76-yard touchdown run against the Vikings in Week 6

    RGIII has given us many on-field memorable moments this year, but perhaps none was more impressive than his 76-yard touchdown run to seal the Redskins' 38-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings back in October.

    Entering the game, we had seen flashes of Griffin's unbridled speed, but nothing particularly spectacular (his longest run before the one above was 19 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3). Griffin simply took off, leaving several defenders in his dust en route to the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in 16 years. And remember, he was one week removed from suffering a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons.

    RGIII then leaped into the FedEx Field stands and was embraced by several fans in a moment that truly depicted his welcome into the arms and hearts of a success-starved fan base. 


    4. The Nationals clinch their first NL East title

    Back in Spring Training, manager Davey Johnson made a bold statement when asked if he would consider the season a failure if the Nationals didn't make the playoffs.

    “No question in my mind,” he said. “You know, and they can fire me... I mean, we should make the playoffs. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

    That was some big talk for a team that finished 80-81 the year before and wasn't far removed from back-to-back 100-loss campaigns.

    Let's be honest: Not very many people expected the Nationals to be that good entering the season, but they were certainly one of baseball's biggest stories this year, finishing with an MLB-leading 98 wins and their first NL East championship. Johnson knew what he was talking about, and just like it did with the Caps several years ago, this city fell in love with the Nats this past summer as another yet band of youngsters took the District by storm.


    3. Joel Ward's series-clinching goal in overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

    As the Capitals prepared for another dreaded Game 7 back in April, I asked defenseman Karl Alzner what a win in that game -- one that nobody thought they had a chance to win after losing Game 6 at home -- would mean to him and his teammates. This is what he told me:

    "Just going out for dinner after [Game 6], we’re hearing people saying we don’t even deserve to be in the series and we shouldn’t even be in the playoffs. It’s hard to understand why people are saying that. Because we didn’t finish in first or second place in the regular season, we’re not worthy of being in the playoffs or being on the same ice as Boston? That’s one of the things that we wanna prove, is that regardless of how the regular season goes, we’re a good hockey team. It matters now. That’s the only thing. So for us, it’s proving a lot of people wrong and it’d be really nice to do it.”

    The Caps, who had never won a Game 7 on the road in their nearly 40-year existence, did just that on April 25, knocking out the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins on their home ice. It was one of the few high points in a tumultuous season for Washington, but one that will surely live on in the annals of franchise history.

    Also, props to Joel Ward for making his third appearance in my year-end lists. 


    2. The Redskins draft Robert Griffin III

    For years, the Redskins thought that they had found their franchise savior -- Bruce Smith, Albert Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb, Adam Archuleta, Deion Sanders, among others -- only for them to ultimately end up as false idols. The 'Skins, however, finally found somebody worthy of such praise in April when they drafted Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

    We knew this guy was going to be special, but, if you can believe it, he has exceeded expectations.

    He has turned a moribund franchise into a contender in just one season, not to mention giving them (gasp) actual stability at the quarterback position -- and to think that one year ago, the 'Skins were entering the season having to choose between the lesser of two evils in either John Beck or Rex Grossman.

    RGIII has shed a new light on one of the most criticized teams in the NFL and has done tt all with a bright smile on his face. I think it is physically impossible to not like Griffin. 

    Most importantly, RGIII has given Redskins fans hope, something long forgotten around here. 


    1. Jayson Werth's walk-off home run in Game 4 of the NLDS

    Werth's at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning against Lance Lynn was the moment of the year. It had all of the elements: the collective nervousness of 40,000-plus that grew with every pitch that Werth fouled off (all seven of them); the absolute euphoria when he crushed the 13th pitch into the left field stands; Charlie Slowes's epic call (which still gives me chills).

    No play in Washington sports in 2012 gave fans the rush of adrenaline that Werth's game-winning home run did that night in October. And it will be hard to top next year.  

    You know, other than winning a championship.


    Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.