Key matchup: Redskins vs. themselves

Key matchup: Redskins vs. themselves
January 4, 2013, 4:15 pm
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Lichtensteiger: 'My gut tells me I want to play on Sunday'

Seahawks at Redskins

Key matchup: Redskins vs. themselves

Outlook: On paper, at least, this figures to be a closely contested game between two evenly matched teams.

Which is to say the outcome could be decided in the fourth quarter and, perhaps, by an ill-timed turnover, a drive-killing (or extending) penalty or a misadventure on special teams.

With that as a backdrop, here are some details the Redskins must stay on top of Sunday at FedEx Field:

  • For much of the season, Robert Griffin III and the offense has taken care of the football. The unit's 14 turnovers were the fewest in the NFL this season. In fact, only five teams in league history have turned the ball over fewer times than that.
  • During the seven-game winning streak, RG3 has tossed two interceptions (on 204 attempts) and running back Alfred Morris has lost a single fumble. That’s it.
  • Taking the ball away, however, is the Seahawks’ specialty. In their last four games, they’ve forced 14 takeaways. Cornerback Richard Sherman leads the way with eight interceptions (tied for second most) this season.
  • For the first half of the season, the Redskins were the most penalized team in the NFL. During the past seven games, however, they’ve been among the league’s most disciplined outfits. The past two games, in fact, they’ve been flagged a total of five times, including a season-low two penalties against the Cowboys.

Because every play and every drive in the playoffs is so critical, a holding, pass interference or a personal foul -- at the wrong time -- can swing an entire game one way or another.

After getting off to a shaky start this season, the Redskins’ special teams units, across the board, have performed solidly. Kicker Kai Forbath is 17 for 18 on field goal attempts since being signed midseason, with his first miss coming from 37 yards last week against the Cowboys.

Meantime, the kickoff coverage team ranks 12th (23 yards per return) and punt coverage ranks eighth (8.2 yards per return.) And both will be tested this week by Seattle speedster Leon Washington, who is the league's second ranked kickoff returner in the league, averaging 29 yards per attempt. Although he’s less dangerous returning punts, averaging 8.2 yards, he has a 52 yarder this season.

For seven weeks, the Redskins have not only won each game, they haven’t beaten themselves. This, obviously, would be a good time for them to remain disciplined.