The Washington Redskins are usually the afterthought in the miserable NFC East, but they’re also something else these days.
A first-place team with just five games to go in the 2015 season.
The ‘Skins, who have finished last in the division in six of the last seven seasons, are about as anonymous as you can be in today’s NFL environment with the only national storylines around the team generated by their questionable nickname, the incredible riches-to-rags story of the former face of the franchise, Robert Griffin III, or the dysfunction of a front office spearheaded by meddling owner Daniel Snyder.
In a football sense Washington surely couldn’t compete with the talented Dallas Cowboys, the innovative Philadelphia Eagles and the Super Bowl-pedigreed New York Giants, right?
Well, injuries have taken care of the Cowboys, hubris has turned Chip Kelly from the innovator to a repetitive play caller looking for his next college job, and reputation is really all Tom Coughlin and Co. have at this point after being downed by Washington, 20-14, on Sunday.
And of all of that means the Redskins are relevant, bad division or not.
After Philadelphia and Dallas were both embarrassed on Thanksgiving Day, if you picked up the New York tabloids this week, Sunday’s game was the Giants’ birthright despite the fact it was in Landover.
And New York acted like it, falling behind 20-0 until making a furious fourth-quarter run that came up short.
Eli Manning threw a season-high three interceptions on the afternoon and completed just 26-of-51 passes as he was outplayed by his lightly-regarded counterpart Kirk Cousins, who connected on 20-of-29 of his attempts for 302 yards and a 63-yard touchdown to noted-Giants killer DeSean Jackson.
Alfred Morris handled the heaving lifting on the ground with 78 hard fought yards on 23 carries and tight end Jordan Reed continued his breakout season with eight catches for 98 yards. Defensively, Ryan Kerrigan had two sacks for Washington while Perry Riley, Quinton Dunbar and Will Blackmon each picked off Manning passes.
“This was a big game,” Cousins said afterward. “We knew how important it was and found a way. I’m really proud of what we accomplished here.”
There is still plenty of work to be done, however, as Washington is merely tied with New York atop the division at 5-6 with Philadelphia just a game back and Dallas two off the pace. The Skins have a leg up though because they are 2-1 in the division and still have two games left with a Tony Romo-less Cowboys team, which is 0-7 without its signal caller this season.
The Redskins eventually will have to find a way to win on the road at some point. They have won five straight at home and are 5-1 overall at FedEx Field but are winless (0-5) on the road.
That said, somebody has to win this thing so why not Washington?
Few believe in the Redskins so instead of those logos and trademarks that incense so many activists, Snyder might want to consider changing his team’s brand by implementing the picture of the late, great comedian Rodney Dangerfield because his franchise gets absolutely no respect.
And when you fail to get respect, you have two options — accept it or do something about it.
Sunday, the Redskins took it and the NFC East title might not be far behind.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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