Perennial losers, Redskins tied for 1st in NFC East at 2-2
After six last-place finishes in the past seven seasons, spending a week atop the NFC East - even at only 2-2, and tied with two other clubs - is a big deal to the Washington Redskins.
''It's a great feeling to win like this,'' defensive end Chris Baker said, ''because we have been losing a lot around here.''
Last season, Jay Gruden's first as an NFL head coach, Washington went 4-12. The year before that, under Mike Shanahan, the team was 3-13.
So a .500 record sounds fantastic at this point.
''Being 2-2, it's not 4-0, but we're tied for first in the division after the first quarter (of the season),'' Gruden said Monday. ''We're happy about that.''
On Sunday, the Redskins overcame a fourth-quarter deficit and 10 penalties for 110 yards to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 23-20 on Kirk Cousins' 4-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds left. That dropped Chip Kelly's Eagles to 1-3, alone at the bottom of the NFC East; the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants are both 2-2.
''There's a lot of things we can improve on. Obviously, the penalties are an issue still. The turnover margin's minus-4; we've got to try to fix that,'' Gruden said. ''But there's a lot of progress, I think, being made. You look back at the games you lost and you (think), `Dang it, if we'd have done this or this or this, (there's a) chance to be 4-0.' You look at the games we won, a couple things could have happened, could be 0-4.''
In the locker room after Sunday's victory, some players who've been with the team for a while spoke about all of the changes they sense nowadays.
New players. New upper management. And more.
''I feel like our attitude's a lot different,'' running back Alfred Morris said. ''When you're not on the same page, it makes it hard to work toward a common goal. ... More so this year than past years, we're all on the same page. We're all tired of losing.''
After letting a 13-0 lead at halftime turn into a 20-16 hole in the fourth quarter Sunday, the Redskins stayed the course and, led by Cousins, put together a 15-play, 90-yard touchdown drive to move back in front.
Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams imagined that in recent seasons, his team might have hung heads and not tried to figure out a way to win a game like that.
''This is a different team from last year,'' Williams said. ''We have a resilient group.''
Gruden kept telling his group the importance of resilience. For at least one game, he saw them heed that advice.
''I like the fact that we're competing. I like the fact that our guys are giving great effort,'' the coach said. ''And I think the way they're preparing, the coaches are preparing, it's going to pay dividends for us in the long run.''
NOTES: TE Jordan Reed got a concussion, sprained the MCL in his right knee, and also sprained his ankle against Philadelphia. ... LB Ryan Kerrigan has a hip pointer. ... Rookie WR Jamison Crowder is ''definitely our slot receiver right now,'' Gruden said. Crowder had seven catches for 65 yards Sunday. ... Gruden said Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey spoke to the Redskins on Saturday night. ''I don't know what his message was. I just know that everybody's looking at him in awe. He's a heck of a guy and a big Redskins fan,'' Gruden said. ''Got the team fired up.'' ... The Redskins waived LB Terrance Plummer, released LB Sage Harold from their practice squad, signed WR Issac Blakeney and LB Linden Trail to their practice squad, and signed DE Frank Kearse.
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