1 and done: Redskins can clinch NFC East by beating Eagles
WASHINGTON (AP) Forget about complicated playoff permutations. It has suddenly all become so simple for the Washington Redskins: Win their game against the Philadelphia Eagles next weekend, and coach Jay Gruden's club will clinch the NFC East title.
Won't matter how the New York Giants do.
Won't matter what happens in Week 17.
''To have a chance and have your team in a position to possibly win the division this late,'' Gruden said Monday at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va., ''is obviously what you coach for - these moments and these games.''
After finishing last in their division in six of the past seven seasons, the Redskins (7-7) are in charge of things, thanks in part to finally claiming two consecutive victories for the first time all season by beating the Buffalo Bills 35-25 on Sunday, behind Kirk Cousins' four touchdown passes, zero interceptions and a run for a score.
Didn't hurt that the other three teams in the NFC East all lost last week, leaving the Eagles and Giants tied for second at 6-8. If Washington runs its winning streak to three games with a victory at Philadelphia on Saturday night, the Redskins will double their win total from last season, Gruden's first as an NFL head coach, and assure themselves of hosting a playoff game against a wild-card team.
''We just keep taking steps forward. I've said all along it's a process. I don't think everything gets fixed in one week or one day. But we just keep staying at it,'' Cousins said. ''I think we're heading in the right direction and that's encouraging.''
He was speaking about the Redskins as a whole, but he could have been referring solely to himself.
By going 22 of 28 for 319 yards against Buffalo, Cousins became the first quarterback in franchise history with six 300-yard passing games in a season. He also finished the home schedule with a 74.7 completion percentage, the highest for any QB in NFL history with at least 100 pass attempts in a season.
And to think: Cousins was the backup to Robert Griffin III entering training camp; only toward the end of the preseason did Gruden change his starting QB.
''A lot of people thought he wasn't going to be a good starting quarterback or think he wasn't going to be able to get the job done,'' said receiver DeSean Jackson, who had six catches for 153 yards, including a 77-yard TD, on Sunday.
Now comes the biggest game of Cousins' career, against Jackson's former team.
When the Redskins hosted the Eagles back in early October, Cousins capped a 90-yard drive with a go-ahead, 4-yard TD toss to Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds left for a 23-20 Washington victory.
If the Redskins can get the same result, a team that won seven games combined the previous two seasons will be headed somewhere very few thought possible when this season began.
''It's not how you start, it's how you finish, and we've been finishing really well these last few games of the season,'' running back Alfred Morris said. ''Hopefully we can keep it up, get into the playoffs and make some noise.''
NOTES: WR Andre Roberts (knee) was put on injured reserve, WR Colin Lockett was signed to the practice squad and TE Ray Hamilton was put on the practice squad injured list. ... Gruden mentioned several injuries from Sunday: S Dashon Goldson (fractured rib), RT Morgan Moses (sprained ankle), C Josh LeRibeus (sprained ankle), LB Will Compton (neck; MRI was normal), RB Matt Jones (bruised hip), WR Ryan Grant (side muscle). ... C Kory Lichtensteiger will start practicing this week and would be eligible to come off injured reserve for the playoffs.
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