In this photo taken Nov. 29,2015, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Landover, Md. With six last-place finishes in the past seven years, the Washing
Alex Brandon
November 30, 2015

With six last-place finishes in the past seven years, the Washington Redskins have not mattered all that much in the latter stages of recent seasons.

Look at them now, though. Thanks in large part to residing in a dismal division, they're actually relevant.

Yes, despite all of their flaws, and despite their sub-.500 record, the Redskins stand atop the NFC East with five games to go.

They are 5-6, just like the New York Giants, and ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) and their next opponent, the Dallas Cowboys (3-8).

No other division has as many as three losing teams, let alone four.

But given where the Redskins have been lately, they'll take it.

''Obviously fired up to be in the position we're in,'' Washington coach Jay Gruden said Monday, a day after beating the visiting Giants 20-14.

''And now it's just a matter of maintaining our focus and our work and just continuing to take it one game at a time, like I say, cliche-wise.

''But I'm proud of the team to be in this position, how hard they worked, how much they've overcome from a week-to-week basis. Overall, we have a lot of work to do, obviously, and we're going to continue to get better. That's our goal.''

Set aside 2012, when a seven-game winning streak allowed Washington to finish 10-6 and win a division title, and the Redskins consistently have been at the back of the NFC East during a stretch that has included coaches Jim Zorn, Mike Shanahan and, last year, Gruden. His first season in charge of an NFL team ended with a 4-12 record.

This edition of the Redskins already has surpassed that win total, thanks entirely to success at home, where the team is 5-1. That includes the current five-game winning streak that is Washington's longest at home in a single season since 1991.

On the road, the Redskins are 0-5, which means they still have three more away games on the schedule.

Now, though, come the rival Cowboys, at home on Monday night next week. They're without starting quarterback Tony Romo, who's out for the rest of the season with an injured collarbone.

''I think our guys understand the importance and understand that the only way you can go about this league is one game at a time and take your next opponent very seriously,'' Gruden said. ''We will do that with Dallas, obviously.''

And, while there was plenty of post-victory chatter Sunday about being in ''the driver's seat'' and how the Redskins ''control our own destiny,'' they are well aware that they have not achieved anything yet.

They are, first place or not, still the owners of a losing record, after all.

''It'll be fun when we win the division. Having first place with five games to go is nice, but it is what it is,'' Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said. ''We could stumble (for) two games, and we're back in the same type of predicament.''

Notes: WR DeSean Jackson, who returned punts Sunday for the first time this season, should be seen in that role again. ''We'll see a little bit more of him. I think he's a great punt returner. I mean, historically,'' Gruden said. ... CB Quinton Dunbar (dislocated left index finger), TE Derek Carrier (high ankle sprain and ''a little bit of an Achilles,'' as Gruden put it), RB Chris Thompson (sprained shoulder) and WR Andre Roberts (knee inflammation) were all listed as day to day. ... CB Jeremy Harris was signed to the practice squad.

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Online:

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