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Redskins-Eagles: 4 Keys To The Game

Posted Dec 20, 2012

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

“Redskins-Eagles: 4 Keys To The Game” is presented by Papa John’s.

Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.


THROW RECORDS OUT THE WINDOW

The last time the Redskins played the Eagles, both teams were 3-6 and battling to stay out of the cellar of the NFC East. The Redskins trounced the Eagles 31-6 at FexExField and have not lost again since.

In that stretch, the Redskins have beaten the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving, the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, the Baltimore Ravens in overtime and the Cleveland Browns in overtime with a backup rookie quarterback getting the start. With so much excitement in the last month, the Redskins are poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and possibly host a game for the first time since 1999.

But all of this is premature if the team fails to take care of business against the Eagles.  The Eagles are nearly two years removed from being the "Dream Team," and have very little to show for the hype. That does not, however, mean that they can be overlooked. They have a veteran roster playing for pride, with a rookie quarterback looking to prove he can be the long-term solution. Head coach Andy Reid may be on the hot seat, but he possesses a 17-10 record against the Redskins in 27 career matchups.

Look for the Eagles to come out firing, so the Redskins need to set the tone early.

CALLING FOR A BLITZ-ZARD

Redskins linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Rob Jackson have found their stride, picking up steam in recent weeks and contributing in all facets of the defense.

For the season, Kerrigan has 51 tackles, six for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 20 quarterback pressures, an interception, 10 passes defensed, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. Since taking over for Orakpo in Week 3, Jackson has 44 tackles, seven for a loss, 4.5 sacks, eight quarterback pressures, three interceptions, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a touchdown.

The two linebackers paired up for dominant second-half performances in each of the last two games and will be looked to again this week to set the tone on defense.

Both linebackers recorded a sack the last time they faced Philadelphia, and the team combined for four sacks and three forced fumbles. Since taking over as the starting quarterback in Week 10, Foles has been sacked 15 times, including eight in the last three weeks. If the Redskins' pass rush can hit home, they can force Foles to make mistakes, as he has also turned the ball over 11 times in six games.

TAKE THE TOP OFF THE DEFENSE

The Redskins have taken a liking to the deep ball this season, airing it out with both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins under center. Griffin III's first touchdown of the year came on an 88-yard catch and run by receiver Pierre Garcon. Last week in Cleveland, Cousins struggled to run the offense until he connected with Hankerson on a 54-yard touchdown to tie the game.

The key to the deep ball has been the development of the younger receivers and improved health of the veterans. Hankerson and Joshua Morgan came into the season still dealing with the lingering effects of injuries that ended their respective 2011 seasons. Garcon was hurt early in the season and is only now rounding into form, while Aldrick Robinson has taken big steps forward in his route running and dependability.

The Redskins have the speed on offense to stretch the field, and the Eagles' do not have the burners in the secondary necessary to win a track meet. If the cornerbacks play tight, go deep. If the cornerbacks cheat back, throw underneath. Either way, take advantage of an Eagles' secondary that has yielded 44 completions longer than 20 yards this season.

LEAN ON THE YOUNGSTERS

The Redskins have found tremendous success with a youthful roster this season, with three different rookies earning nominations as the NFL Rookie of the Week. 

Running back Alfred Morris has been an unstoppable force this season, averaging nearly 100-yards-per contest and on pace for 1,511 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is joined by Robert Griffin III who has a 104.2 passer rating this season and is on pace for 3,350 yards and 21 touchdowns, with another 860 yards on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns.

If Griffin III (knee) is unable to go, he will be replaced by Kirk Cousins, who is on track to finish the season with over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns if he started the last two games.

But one of the finest performances on the team this year belongs to Kai Forbath, who has hit 15 consecutive field goals to start his NFL career. With his next consecutive conversion, Forbath will tie the NFL record set by Garrett Hartley in 2008. More importantly, he will move the Redskins one step closer to their first playoff berth in five years.

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