Cousins, Redskins aim for repeat of 2015
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins know what it takes to get the job done down the stretch.
They did it last year and have to do it again.
The Redskins (6-5-1) captured the NFC East title in 2015 by winning their last four games. After losing two in a row to drop to seventh place in the conference, they don't have margin for error. If Washington wins the final four again, starting Sunday at Philadelphia (5-7), a wild-card berth is almost certain.
''We were able to finish the season strong last year,'' Cousins said. ''It can be done again, but by no means do I feel any type of calm or comfort drawing on last year's finish. I think we have to do it all over again, and last year really has no bearing on whether or not we deliver this year.''
Losses to the Redskins eliminated the Eagles from playoff contention each of the past two seasons. They're mathematically still in the race, but they'll be playing the spoiler role the rest of the way.
That 3-0 start for Carson Wentz and Philadelphia is a distant memory at this point. The Eagles have lost three straight games by a double-digit margin, and seven of nine.
''I'm wired to be a winner. I hate losing,'' said Wentz, who was 20-3 as a starter and was part of five consecutive FCS national championship teams at North Dakota State. ''I think it comes down to: Do you love it enough? I think if you love the game and you're around it, you enjoy the grind. You attack it and it's part of the process.''
Here are some things to watch for when the Redskins seek their fifth straight win over the Eagles:
BRINGING THE HEAT: The Eagles have no sacks in the past two games and only six in the last six after getting 20 in the first five. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz may have to blitz more to get to Cousins. The Cardinals had success against the Redskins last week when they used the blitz and came up with a key interception. Schwartz is hesitant to send his safeties after the quarterback because it would expose his cornerbacks to man coverage.
''Our corners aren't playing very well right now,'' Schwartz said. ''It doesn't mean I've lost confidence in them because that's the same bunch of corners that shut down some of the best offenses in the NFL. But we're in a slump.''
WILLIAMS RETURNS: The Redskins get left tackle Trent Williams back from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He helps a banged-up offensive line and will be responsible for blocking Brandon Graham, who has been Philadelphia's best pass rusher and leads the team with five sacks. Williams is motivated to make an immediate impact.
''Any time I step on the field, I feel responsible for playing some of the best football that I can,'' he said. ''I felt like I was playing some of the best football of my career before this suspension, so hopefully I can get back to that.''
THIRD AND UGH: Washington's third-down defense is the worst in the league, causing cornerback Josh Norman to say: ''Yeah we are. We got to get off the field.'' Worst, perhaps, is third-and-long. The Redskins are allowing first downs on 34.8 percent of third-and-10 or longer with no forced turnovers.
''I think it's a combination of things we've said all along: the pass rush has to marry with the pass coverage. Sometimes it's a coverage, sometimes it's a rush,'' coach Jay Gruden said.
M & M BOYS RETURN: The Eagles were missing leading rusher Ryan Mathews and leading receiver Jordan Matthews in last week's 32-14 loss at Cincinnati. Both are expected to return from injuries this week to help a struggling offense.
''With the addition of Ryan coming back, it definitely gives us depth and a bigger back back there, and hopefully we can get back to running the ball like we did a few weeks ago,'' coach Doug Pederson said.
HOME-FIELD DOMINANCE: The Eagles are 4-1 at home and have outscored opponents 121-65. But the Redskins have scored 72 points combined in the last two games in Philadelphia.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno in Ashburn, Virginia, contributed to this report.
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