Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Broncos battle at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colo.
“Redskins-Broncos: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.
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TRAIN THE UNDERDOG
Even if the Redskins had been world-beaters since Week 1, they would come into this game as big underdogs to a team that has only lost once at home with Peyton Manning under center. Throw in the fact that last week's loss to the Colts on the road may have served as a wakeup call, and Denver could very well be a hornets nest on Sunday.
With that being said, the Redskins have seen that the Broncos can be beaten by good teams, and the Redskins showed that they can be a good team last week. The Colts are averaging 43 points per game, but the Redskins are coming off of
The key mindset is to embrace the underdog mentality and use it to focus the team's efforts. This is not a team that can play angry and win; they have to play within themselves. Fortunately, this is a mostly even-keeled team. They don't get too high on wins and they don't sink too low on defeats. Play disciplined football, don't turn the ball over and play like the underapprecaited talent that they are.
AGILE, MOBILE AND HOSTILE
The Washington Redskins need to get after Peyton Manning on every single defensive snap of the game. He is too good to allow time in the pocket but can make adjustments too quickly to rely on one tactic.
With that in mind, the Redskins will need to bring the pass rush from different angles. Send safeties off the edge and Fletcher up the middle. Get in Manning's throwing lanes and keep him from finding his receivers deep downfield.
The two key players for creating pressure are obviously
It's an appealing matchup, but the Redskins need to take advantage. Kerrigan has been dynamite in the first half this year, registering all of his 5.5 sacks in the opening quarters of play. Get Manning uncomfortable early and try to put the Broncos in the unfamiliar position of trailing.
GOING ON HOLLIDAY
The Redskins have allowed returns for touchdowns in each of the last two games, giving up more than 100 combine return yards to both Dwayne Harris and Devin Hester.
That cannot happen for a third week in a row. The bleeding stops here. But it won't be easy
Trindon Holliday is the only player in the league so far this year to register both a kick return and punt return for a touchdown. He is a special talent and rises to the occasion in big situations, like last year in the division round of the playoffs.
The Redskins bring the advantage of Keith Burns in this game, who coached this Broncos special teams unit up until last year and worked closely with Holliday. While you can't teach speed, he did help improve Holliday's vision and Burns understands the tendencies his prodigy prefers.
If the Redskins cannot keep the ball out of his hands by kicking it deep and out of bounds, at least use that knowledge of personnel to maintain the upper hand.
On the flip side of the football, the Redskins need a spark in the return game, as
RUN, ROBERT, RUN!
The Redskins have played their two best games all season long in the last two weeks since the bye week. They have run balanced offensive attacks (47 percent pass, 53 percent run), gained an average of 466 yards and scored seven total touchdowns.
The straw that has stirred the drink along the way is Robert Griffin III, who has gotten back to his own balanced attack, carrying the football 20 times for 161 yards. The Redskins have gone over 200 yard rushing in back-to-back weeks for the first time sinces Weeks 4-5 of the 1984 season.
Only 17 players on the active roster were alive then.
This is clearly an offensive unit that thrives off the run-game, using it to set up the pass and open up opportunities for players like
They will be up against a Denver Broncos defense that has not allowed more than 41 yards rushing to a quarterback all season. The Redskins are 3-2 when Robert Griffin III rushes for 80 yards. This should be a big matchup to watch.