Three-game win streak has Red­skins in the hunt

Vic­tory over Giants, Grif­fin’s play, solid run­ning game are rea­sons for hope.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - Byjoseph White NICK WASS / as­so­ci­ated PRESS

ASH­BURN, VA. — No one is sur­prised that Washington Red­skins owner Dan Sny­der hates the New York Giants, or that Mike Shana­han hates the de­bil­i­tat­ing salary cap penalty im­posed on his team by the NFL.

And, by now, no one should be sur­prised that the Red­skins are play­off con­tenders with Robert Grif­fin III, who not only has his first Mon­day night win but also man­aged to ref­er­ence “Gumby” dur­ing the postgame news con­fer­ence.

There was all sorts of pas­sion on dis­play be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the Red­skins’ 17-16 win over the Giants. Sny­der was heard us­ing a pro­fane word, as first re­ported by USA To­day, to de­scribe the NFC East ri­vals while con­grat­u­lat­ing play­ers and staff in the locker room. Washington’s coach­ing staff used the cap penal­ties to mo­ti­vate the play­ers in the days be­fore the game.

“Win one for the cap” doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Win one for the Gip­per,” but play­ers were made aware — through a no­tice posted on an as­sis­tant coach’s door — that New York owner John Mara Mara sup­ported the $36 mil­lion penalty as­sessed to the Red­skins over two sea­sons for ex­ces­sive spend­ing dur­ing the un­capped 2010 year.

Shana­han said he didn’t know if the ploy had an ef­fect on the play­ers, but the coach cer­tainly had an ex­tra edge be­cause of it.

“Yeah, it fires me up,” Shana­han said. “Yeah, sure it does.”

What mat­ters is who won the game, of course, and the Red­skins (6-6) are now clos­ing in on first place, tied with the Dal­las Cow­boys (6-6) and one game be­hind the Giants (7-5). Washington hosts the Baltimore Ravens (9-3) on Sun­day, then fin­ishes with a fa­vor­able stretch against the Cleve­land Browns (4-8) and Philadel­phia Ea­gles (3-9) be­fore a home sea­son fi­nale against the Cow­boys.

“We can’t be com­pla­cent,” Shana­han said, “be­cause we don’t have the op­por­tu­nity to be com­pla­cent.”

A month ago, when the record was 3-6, Shana­han was talk­ing about eval­u­at­ing play­ers for fu­ture sea­sons. Now he sees a win­ning at­ti­tude that per­haps best showed it­self when the Red­skins were able to put the Giants away by hold­ing the ball for the game’s fi­nal four min­utes.

“They knew we had to run it. We knew we had to run it,” Shana­han said. “And we were able to get a first down. Those type of things build a lot of con­fi­dence.”

The Red­skins now lead the NFL in rush­ing with 167.2 yards per game, and Grif­fin has a 140 passer rat­ing and nine touch­down passes dur­ing the three-game win­ning streak. He ran for 72 yards Mon­day night but took an­other solid hit dur­ing the fi­nal drive.

“I could feel the type­writ­ers writ­ing when I took that hit,” Grif­fin said. “Peo­ple are say­ing I run too much. ... I was beel­in­ing to­ward the side­line and at the last sec­ond re­al­ized I needed to stay in. Coach called it the ‘Gumby hit,’ be­cause my legs bent like Gumby.”

Washington QB Robert Grif­fin III, cel­e­brat­ing af­ter a 17-16 win over the Giants on Mon­day night, has a 140 passer rat­ing in the past three games.

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