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Hidden factors keyed Redskins' win

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Oct. 11, 2010 @ 7:19 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Donovan McNabb had a great passing day and the Redskins' defense stepped up in their overtime win over the Packers. But a lot of factors, some more obvious than others, played a part in the 16-13 victory. Clearly, the Packers missed some opportunities and suffered some injuries, but the Redskins also had a few positive developments that were big developments.

The PFW spin

The Redskins are tied for first place, and McNabb has had a big say in it. He missed 23 attempts Sunday and was cold early, but he came up with some big throws when they had to be made. McNabb still isn't the most accurate QB in the league, throwing high, low and wide at times. But he has given his receivers chances to make plays, especially Sunday when the emerging Anthony Armstrong made some big catches.

A week after the ball essentially was taken out of McNabb's hands against the Eagles, the Redskins put it back into his mitts with throws on 15 of the 18 fourth-quarter plays. Part of that had to do with the fact that Clinton Portis was out and that Ryan Torain and the run game had been shut down by the Packers. McNabb caught fire in the fourth and in overtime and helped lead the team to a win.

The Packers' defense is a great group, and it clearly tried to disrupt the Redskins' offense with some odd fronts and last-minute shifting. Washington's offensive line, which lost both starting tackles, had to adjust on the fly, and for the most part it was a strong effort. The Redskins' depth up front has been tested seriously, but this group is doing a mostly good job.

Defensively, there were many big plays that will be forgotten in the winning effort. Faced with a 10-point hole after the Packers had dominated early, the Redskins' "D" tightened up. The Packers tried to go for it on 4th-and-goal in the second quarter, leading 10-0, but Rocky McIntosh stuffed a sneak attempt on third down and Lorenzo Alexander deflected a fourth-down pass. On the fourth-down play, Chris Wilson created pressure, which hurried the throw and helped cause the incompletion.

The Redskins did some switching and shifting of their own on defense. They used their linebackers creatively to cause confusion, moving them around for different looks. Some of what they did caused some hesitation in Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who typically gets rid of the ball as quickly as anyone. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett took heat in the first few weeks of the season for his work while getting the team adjusted to a 3-4 scheme. But his play-calling and game planning have improved markedly the past two weeks, making the most of the personnel.

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