By Jacob Troxell, special to Breaking Burgundy
The Washington Redskins were 7.5-point favorites at home against an 0-3 Cleveland Browns team. They were able to come back after giving up a 14-point lead, but what did the in-game numbers say?
5. Coming into today: 21.43 percent – The Redskins’ red zone touchdown percentage
It is not pretty. In fact, it is second-worst in the league, behind only the Houston Texans (14.29). It nearly cost the Redskins a win at the New York Giants last week, but thanks to a few defensive stops and a locked-in kicker, they were able to squeak by. Kirk Cousins is 7 for 23 with 48 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions from inside the 20-yard line. Of those 23 passes, he is just 1 for 12 from inside the 10.
Sunday: The Redskins were a perfect 4 for 4 in the red zone. Three of the conversions were touchdown passes from Cousins.
4. Coming into today: 200 – Total yards for Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor last week against the Miami Dolphins
Pryor made history last week as he was the first player since the AFL-NFL merger to have at least three passing attempts, three rushing attempts and three receptions in a single game. He was also the first player since Frank Gifford in 1959 to gain at least 120 receiving yards, 20 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards in a single game, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Washington expected the fifth-year man out of Ohio State to line up all over the field, including in the Wildcat, a formation from which he scored a rushing touchdown last week. Of Pryor’s 78 snaps last week, 14 of them came while he was under center, and he was targeted 14 times as well.
Sunday: Pryor scored a touchdown, but was held to just five catches for 46 yards and did not attempt a pass or rush. The Redskins’ problem on defense was running back Isaiah CrowellI, who ran for 112 yards on 15 carries.
3. Coming into today: 3 – Field goals missed by Browns kicker Cody Parkey last week.
After kicker Patrick Murray reinjured his knee in practice on Sept. 23, Cleveland signed Parkey, a former Philadelphia Eagle and 2014 Pro Bowler, to fill the void. Parkey made only half of his six attempts against the Dolphins in his Browns debut. Although he connected on a 48-yarder, he missed kicks from 41, 42 and a game-winner from 46.
Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins has made sure Washington capitalizes on drives this season. Hopkins is a perfect 11 for 11 on the year and has not missed a field goal since Dec. 7 of last year. Additionally, Hopkins has never missed more than one field goal in a game during his three-year career.
Sunday: Parkey was 2 for 2 on both field goals and extra points while Hopkins continued his perfect season, nailing a 49-yarder and going 4 for 4 on field goals. Instead of missed kicks, it was two Cleveland fumbles in Redskins territory -- including one in the red zone -- that allowed Washington to crawl back into the league
2. Coming into today: 330.7 – the Redskins’ average passing yards per game, second-most in the NFL
While the running game struggled through three weeks (75.5 yards per game, fourth-fewest in the NFL) the Redskins’ aerial attack has consistently moved this offense. Against a Cleveland defense that had allowed 7.4 yards per attempt this season (20th in the NFL) and seven touchdowns through the air (tied for 27th) leading up to kickoff, Cousins, DeSean Jackson and company were poised to put up good numbers again.
Sunday: The Redskins were outgained in rushing yards and passing yards but won the turnover battle, 3-1. Those turnovers came on three consecutive Cleveland drives in the second half and led to 14 Washington points.
1. Coming into today: 2-2 – The Redskins’ record after four games each of the last two times they won the NFC East.
In 2012, a seven-game win streak after a Week 10 bye pushed the Redskins into the playoffs. In 2015, it was a four-game win streak that helped them regain their title. However, just one win during those two streaks came against a playoff team (2012 against the Baltimore Ravens).
This year’s home stretch is a bit more daunting, with the defending NFC North champions and 3-0 Minnesota Vikings (Week 10), the Aaron Rodgers-driven Green Bay Packers (Week 11), the reigning NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals (Week 13) and the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers (Week 15) ahead of them. Not to mention a few divisional road games. The schedule in 2016 is a gauntlet.
Sunday: Last season, the Redskins did not beat one team that made it to the playoffs. This year, they will have to do so in the second half of the season while also capitalizing against winless teams at home like they did today. With their second straight win, the Redskins avoided their first 0-3 start at home since 1998, a season in which they began 0-7.
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