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Redskins-Giants: 4 Keys To The Game

Posted Dec 28, 2013

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Giants rivalry match at MetLife Stadium.

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday afternoon's Redskins-Giants rivalry match at MetLife Stadium.

“Redskins-Giants: 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.


UNLEASH THE UNDERDOG

While it is intended to be the other way around, there are times when it is appropriate for reality to imitate art.

Before the Washington Sentinels take on the Dallas Ropers at the end of The Replacements (a film based roughly on the Washington Redskins during the 1987 lockout), Gene Hackman, the team's head coach, delivers a line that sets up the heroics to end the season:

"There is no tomorrow for you and that makes you all very dangerous people!"

The Redskins were officially eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the New York Giants on Dec. 1. Washington's season was grim long before that and the team's focus has shifted from being concerned with postseason to being concerned with next season.

For some, perhaps even many members of the Washington Redskins, this will be their final game in the burgundy and gold. Nearly half of the Redskins defense will hit free agency this March and there is uncertainty throughout the offense, special teams and coaching staff.

For veterans London Fletcher and Santana Moss, both free agents at the end of the season, this could be their last games in the NFL. What better sendoff than a feel-good win over a division opponent?

There is plenty to play for in this game, as players look to pad their resumes and put it on tape. Perhaps no Redskins performance is as important as quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has put up good numbers this season, but has yet to lead his team to victory. With the game on the line inside of two minutes in each of the last two weeks, the Redskins have fallen one point short of victory.

This is the game that Cousins needs to find a way to win.

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LESS IS NOT MORRIS

It's hard to believe that a 260-carry, 1,213-yard season, seven-touchdown season could be disappointing for an NFL running back, but for Alfred Morris, there is always the feeling that he should have done more.

Morris has carried the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing offense this season and taken pressure off of sophomore signal callers Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins.

He has been durable, he has been productive, he has been relatively mistake-free, but he needs--nay, he deserves--an iconic performance to close out the season.

Morris is the type of back that gets stronger as the game goes along. He is at his best rushing in the fourth quarter. He isn't a gimmicky back like Danny Woodhead that needs a particular defensive alignment to have success.

Morris is a workhorse back that has not been let out to run nearly enough in the second halves of games this season. Regardless of the halftime score, the Redskins need to stick with the run.

Morris will not disappoint and he should prey on a middle-of-the-pack Giants rush defense. He averages 90 yards-per-game against the Giants in three career contests and can take pressure off Kirk Cousins.

Last week, the Cowboys were able to take away the play-action pass because the Redskins weren't committed to running the football. The offense sputtered with a two-score lead. Stick with the run, set up the pass and win the day.

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OUI, OUI PIERRE

The legend of Pierre Garcon continues to grow in the Nation's Capital.

Going into last week, Garcon needed 10 receptions to tie Art Monk's franchise receptions record for a single season (106). He got 11 receptions, eight in the first half alone, put his name in the all-time record books.

The most important trait of a No. 1 receiver in the NFL is that they can produce in single or double coverage, run elite routes and produce even when the defense knows the ball is coming that way.

Garcon was targeted a team-high 17 times, more than twice as much as the next highest receiver. He caught two-thirds of those passes, including some acrobatic grabs and one while sitting on the ground.

The Giants have been middle-of-the pack on passing defense and their secondary has weathered some tough injuries.

Giants safety and Redskins nemesis Antrel Rolle had a quality season (93 tackles, two sacks, forced fumble, six interceptions) and complained loudly about his Pro Bowl snub on Friday night. Always a big talker, he has the ability to back it up if the Redskins aren't careful.

In three career games vs. the New York Giants, Garcon has 18 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown. Fully healthy, fully motivated and playing like a man on fire, he could equal those numbers on Sunday.

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THE ELI SANDWICH

If Eli Manning were judged strictly on his numbers, there's a chance he could have been benched this season.

Completing 58.3 percent of his passes, his lowest percentage since 2007, Manning has slung 26 interceptions against just 17 touchdowns, fumbling seven times and getting sacked 38.

The key to the defense winning this game is generating pressure against a weak offensive line. But it won't be easy.

As of Friday, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (groin) was optimistically questionable heading into his final game on his rookie contract. He will make the trip to New York, but the team will be without its top pass-rusher if playing puts him at serious risk for further injury.

Regardless, it has been to expected that Rob Jackson will get a heavy workload in his place, a position he has shown comfort with in the past.

In two starts vs. Eli Manning last season, Jackson had 1.5 sacks and an interception that changed the tide of the second contest. He will not be fazed by the matchup.

On the other side of the line, Ryan Kerrigan seems to be back to early season form, tying his 2012 production with a sack last week and a chance to reach career highs with another takedown this week.

Look for the Redskins to be aggressive on defense, as they were for the second half of last year. There is little to lose by turning it loose.

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