Can RG3, Redskins continue streak?

Can RG3, Redskins continue streak?
December 21, 2012, 8:00 am
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Shanahan: Nobody is 100% healthy -- RGIII will play if he can

What: Redskins (8-6) at Eagles (4-10)

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Fox WTTG-5

Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live: Comcast SportsNet noon and 4.

Outlook: The most scrutinized knee in the nation will probably remain just that right up until kickoff, but all indications are that Robert Griffin III will return to the Redskins’ lineup.

Griffin has participated fully in practice all week and taken his normal reps with the first team. Unless there’s an unanticipated setback in the coming 48 hours, Coach Mike Shanahan says he expects the star rookie to be under center Sunday against the Eagles. (The team will announce Griffin's official status for the game Friday afternoon.)

Kirk Cousins filled in admirably last week in Cleveland, leading Washington to its fifth consecutive victory, 38-21. But RG3 is the Redskins’ starter for a reason.

Remember what Griffin did the last time these two teams met? 

Just in case you don't, here's a recap: He completed 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards and tossed touchdown passes of 6, 17, 49 and 61 yards to lead the Redskins to a 31-6 thrashing of their NFC East rival. The decisive win also kick started the Redskins’ improbable playoff run.

In order to extend the winning streak to six games, though, the Redskins must resist the urge to look past the struggling Eagles and ahead to the highly anticipated regular season finale against the Cowboys.

“It’s awesome,” Griffin said of the Redskins being in command of their postseason fate. “We came back from the bye with one mission, and that’s the mission that we’re still on. We control our own destiny and we did what we were supposed to do: we won. That’s what we have to continue to do. Guys can’t get happy now.”

Indeed, the Redskins have reason to be wary of the Eagles, who are eager to play the role of spoiler. Starting running back LeSean McCoy is expected to the lineup after missing four games with a concussion, while Andy Reid could be coaching his last game at home after 14 seasons in Philly. Rookie Nick Foles, meantime, will again start at quarterback despite Michael Vick being cleared to return from a concussion.

The Eagles have lost nine of their last 10 games, but they’re still capable of ruining the Redskins' afternoon – and perhaps much more. Just ask the Buccaneers. Two weeks ago, Foles threw a touchdown pass as the clock ran out in Tampa Bay. Time also expired on the Buccaneers' season because of that touchdown, which handed Tampa Bay its seventh defeat.

“It’s a great feeling, but at the same time, I haven’t been to the playoffs since ’07, so I understand the importance of winning the next game and staying focused and not getting ahead of yourself,” special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander said. “Every year, you see a team that controls its own destiny and ends up dropping the last two games because of a lack of focus.”

Added Griffin: “No one is in the locker room jumping around excited that we’re on a win streak and we’re controlling our own destiny. Everyone is still focused on what we have to do.” 

To a man, the Redskins have praised the determination and attention to detail the players and coaching staff have displayed since returning from the bye.

They also agree on this: Sunday is no time for collective lapse in concentration.

Here are a few other storylines the crew at will be following:

1—Injuries. Center Will Montgomery (knee) is expected to play, but the status of tackle Tyler Polumbus (concussion) remains unclear. Polumbus did not practice Thursday. The Redskins are one of four teams to have had the same group of starters along the offensive line all season. That continuity, however, is in jeopardy. 

If Polumbus doesn’t play, the Redskins could turn to second-year utility lineman Maurice Hurt or rookie Tom Compton. Neither, however, has taken a regular season snap at tackle.

2—The defense. Considered to be the team’s biggest weakness the first nine games, Jim Haslett's unit has been good enough of late. It's forced 10 turnovers during the winning streak (the Eagles’ have 12 all season) and allowed an average of 20.4 points. For the year, that would rank eighth in the NFL. 

"More than anything, I'm proud of the way the guys stuck together when we were struggling," Haslett said. "We have played good ball in the last month and a half. But we still we can continue to improve."

3—Playoff scenarios. It’s actually possible for the Redskins to clinch their first postseason berth in five years on Sunday with a win. But they would also need losses by the Vikings (at the Texans), Bears (at the Cardinals) and Giants (at the Ravens).

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