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    • DATE: December 3, 2013
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Redskins-Giants: 4 Keys To The Game

Posted Nov 30, 2013

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday Night's Redskins-Giants battle at FedExField.

Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday Night's Redskins-Giants battle at FedExField.

“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.


GET UP FOR PRIME TIME

After last season's success--particularly in nationall televised games, going 3-0--the Washington Redskins were rewarded with a franchise record five prime-time games, as everyone wanted their piece of Robert Griffin III and Co.

To date, the Redskins have yet to win a prime-time game, and it hasn't been close. In four prime-time performances this year, the Redskins have been out-scored 76-125. But in the final prime-time contest of the season, they have the opportunity to turn all of that around.

It is also the team's first shot at the New York Giants, a team that they have played very competitively under head coach Mike Shanahan. In six games against the Giants, the Redskins are 3-3 with a combined score of 112-115.

After going 0-3 in the first half of the division slate this season, the Redskins desperately need a bounce-back opponent. The up-and-down Giants should bring out the best the Redskins have to offer.

The simple fact is, the Redskins still have a lot to play for the final five games of the season. Though mathematically not eliminated from the playoffs, their collective focus has to be on much more immediate goals: winning a home game for only the third time this season. Winning their first division game. Winning the first step of their first winning streak of the season.

All of that has to matter to a locker room full of people who assure the media and fans they have no given up on this season. Prove it with a big win on Sunday Night Football.

RUN THE ROCK ALL DAY

This is a loaded statistic, but since Alfred Morris joined the Washington Redskins in 2012, the team is 11-3 in games in which the he rushes the ball at least 20 times. That number includes every game of the Redskins' seven-game winning streak last season, and gets even more telling when Morris has 25 carries or more: 4-1.

Even with NFL rules increasingly favoring the passing attack, the Redskins are very much predicated on the run to set up the pass. Alfred Morris is a running back who gets increasingly better with use and stronger as the game goes on.

Even in a season where the Redskins have fallen into double-digit deficits in most games, the offense needs to stay committed to run. Too frequently, the Redskins have bailed on the balanced offense, ignoring what the defense gives them and forcing the pass.

Rather than swinging for the fences, it may be time to adopt a more methodical approach that opens up more opportunities throughout the offense.

Two things working against the Redskins are that both fullback Darrel Young (hamstring) and backup fullback/tight end Niles Paul (illness) could be unavailable. But using a combination of Morris and backup Roy Helu Jr., the Redskins need to control the clock and pound the rock.

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?

Since returning from injury three weeks ago, Giants running back Andre Brown has keyed New York's rushing attack, piling up 308 yards at 4.5 yards per clip. He has a pair of 100-yard performances in that span, running over Oakland and Dallas.

In the Redskins's three wins this season, they have not yet allowed a 100-yard rusher. If the Redskins wish to stop the New York Giants offense, it starts with keeping Andre Brown out of the game plan and putting the ball in Eli Manning's hands.

In the first eight games of the season, Manning threw 15 interceptions and fumbled four times. In the three games since Brown returned to the lineup, Manning has turned the ball over only three times: two interceptions and a fumble.

The key is putting the pressure on Manning to carry the offense. With Brandon Jacobs ruled out with injury, the Giants don't have other worthwhile options in the running game, forcing Manning into the hot seat. With a Redskins' pass rush coming alive behind Brian Orakpo's three-game sack streak, this could be an opportunity for the Redskins to tee off.

Clearly, Brown can do a lot. The Redskins need to make sure that he doesn't.

RALLYING ROBERT GRIFFIN III

This has been a frustrating season for Robert Griffin III, who has been built up and torn down by the media with each passing performance.

As he approaches the 12-month mark for his original LCL injury vs. the Baltimore Ravens and the 11-month anniversary of his final ACL/LCL surgery, Griffin III is only now reaching the lower end of the time-frame for most ACL injuries. It's a minor miracle that he has been able to play for the last three months.

This is not to make excuses for the franchise quarterback--it's to say that the growing pains and disappointments so far in 2013 have accelerated his timeline of development. He is playing through the period of time when the physical and psychological effects of a major injury are still in play.

The reps that he missed during the offseason are significant, but would be nothing compared to most athletes that would miss an entire year with a similar injury.

At this point, however, the Redskins would like to see Griffin III make significant progress towards next year. He has top receiver Pierre Garcon rolling on all cylinders, on pace to break Art Monk's franchise record for receptions in a season (106).

He has Alfred Morris on pace to rush for 5.0 yards per carry on the season. He should have tight end Jordan Reed back from a concussion that has held him out of last week's contest. He also has Joshua Morgan back in the fold, giving him plenty of outlet receivers.

This is a big week for Griffin III against a division opponent that has inspired great play out of him in the past. With injuries all over the place on the Giants defense, this is a matchup that favors No. 10.

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