The biggest difference? That's easy. Wide receiver Santana Moss is tied for the NFL lead with 24 third-down catches. He's fourth in receiving yards and first downs.
All of this despite the lack of another threat at wide receiver for Washington, especially since the already struggling David Patten suffered a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 13 at Tampa Bay.
"We talked all off-season about getting the ball down the field and being explosive," quarterback Mark Brunell said. "That was one of the things that was lacking last year. This year, we've been able to get the ball down the field. Some big plays have helped us. Santana has been a huge part of that."
Moss (66 catches for 1,111 yards) and H-back Chris Cooley (54 for 629) have accounted for 53.1 percent of the Redskins' catches and 64.8 percent of their receiving yards.
The other Redskins receivers (Patten, James Thrash, Taylor Jacobs and Jimmy Farris) have combined for 46 catches for 481 yards and no touchdowns. Cooley's colleagues at H-back and tight end (Mike Sellers, Robert Royal, Brian Kozlowski and Robert Johnson) have been more serviceable with 27 catches, six for touchdowns.
"Sometimes I'm tempted to throw three (passes) up there for Santana no matter what," coach Joe Gibbs said.
Leading just 10-7 late in the third quarter last Sunday, the Redskins faced a third-and-9 from the St. Louis 41. Moss ran down the left side and was double-covered. No matter - Moss outjumped Jerome Carter to make the catch. Three plays later, Clinton Portis made it 17-7 to propel Washington to a critical 24-9 victory.
"We need to do more of that because obviously Santana's been playing at a very high level," Gibbs said.
It was the kind of play Moss frequently made during the first six games, when he had four 100-yard outings, five touchdowns and 10 catches of 30-plus yards. But he since has leveled off - in the past six games, Moss has no 100-yard games, only one touchdown and only two catches of 30 or more yards, as defenses increasingly try to take him away from Brunell, knowing that Cooley is the only other serious option.
SERIES HISTORY: 117th meeting. Redskins lead 70-44-2 with four straight victories dating to 2000. The Redskins are just 6-8 at Sun Devil Stadium. The most memorable game in the former NFC East rivalry came in 1975 in St. Louis when Redskins cornerback Pat Fischer jarred the ball from Cardinals wide receiver Mel Gray at the goal line with 20 seconds left, only to have the officials rule it a touchdown. St. Louis won 20-17 on a 37-yard Jim Bakken field goal seven minutes in overtime. The loss helped keep the Redskins (8-6) out of the playoffs.
Quotes and Notes
"Griff definitely had a lot to do with it," Washington said. "He's a force inside. He demands respect and attention. He brings about double teams. A lot of times that frees other guys up or (you) have a one-on-one matchup. Griff can rush the passer and is also very strong on the run front. He's so explosive when he comes off of the football that a lot of times, he just kind of dominates guys."
--In his first start since replacing veteran Walt Harris in the lineup, rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers played well against the Rams' dynamic duo of Torry Holt and Issac Bruce. This week's test is the NFL's top tandem of 2005, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
"I'm going to be in on each and every down, and I look forward to the challenge," Rogers said. "Being a rookie, I know that they're going to come after me like (the Rams) did last game. I need to step my game up each and every week. I'm going to be in on every down, so it's a big challenge. Boldin is like a running back. He can take a 1-yard catch and break it for a 54-yard touchdown.
"We know they're going to throw the ball. They come out with a lot of receivers on first, second and third down. Most teams come out on third down with a lot more receivers (than on other downs), but these guys come out throwing the ball on first and second down."
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 - Redskins-Cardinals games in the past 39 months. 7 - Redskins-Cardinals games in the previous 39 months.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "As we sit right now at 6-6, we look back and say, 'If we had only done this against Tampa Bay or had only done that against Oakland.' We have an opportunity in front of us. We don't want to be coming in here next Monday and saying, 'If only we had done this against Arizona.'" - Tackle Jon Jansen.
--WR Santana Moss strained a hamstring during practice on Wednesday. The Redskins still expect him to play Sunday at Arizona.
--LB LaVar Arrington didn't practice Wednesday because of the thigh bruise he suffered last Sunday at St. Louis, but he is expected to face the Cardinals.
--DT Joe Salave'a didn't practice Wednesday and likely will miss a second straight game with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
--SS Ryan Clark didn't practice Wednesday because of the ankle he sprained last Sunday in St. Louis. The Redskins are optimistic that Clark will play Sunday.
--DT Cornelius Griffin rested his sore hip flexor Wednesday but is expected to start a second straight game Sunday.
--DT Cedric Killings missed a second straight practice Wednesday with the groin he pulled last week, and he could miss a second consecutive game.
--T Chris Samuels rested his tender knee Wednesday but is probable for Sunday as usual.
--RB/KR Ladell Betts participated in his first full practice on Wednesday since spraining his knee at Tampa Bay on Nov. 13, but he should play Sunday.
--WR James Thrash didn't practice Wednesday and is expected to miss a third straight game with a pulled hamstring.
GAME PLAN: The Cardinals have the NFL's worst ground game, so the Redskins will have to flip their usual defensive focus and concentrate on stopping the pass. After holding the Rams to just 142 yards through the air last week, the defense is feeling confident about that prospect despite facing Arizona's top-ranked passing offense.
Although the Cardinals are minus top pass rusher Bertrand Berry and top draft choice Antrel Rolle is just returning at cornerback from a knee injury and won't start on Sunday, the Redskins won't look to throw like crazy at Arizona. Not after romping through the Rams for 257 yards on 40 carries last week. Expect a steady diet of Clinton Portis, Rock Cartwright and perhaps a healthy Ladell Betts until the Cardinals prove they can stop the run or the Redskins fall well behind.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Redskins CBs Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers vs. Cardinals WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Youngsters Fitzgerald and Boldin are the NFL's hottest receiving duo, but veteran Springs is playing at a Pro Bowl level and Rogers had critical interceptions the past two weeks. Getting pressure on Cardinals QB Kurt Warner against a patchwork offensive line will help.
--Redskins WR Santana Moss vs. Cardinals CBs David Macklin and Antrel Rolle. Moss strained a hamstring on Wednesday but is expected to be fine. Macklin is nothing special, and rookie Rolle hasn't played in weeks. Hitting Moss for a couple of big plays would only help the rising running attack.
--Redskins RB Clinton Portis vs. Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson. Portis has averaged 115 yards the past four games, his best such streak in more than a year. He is ahead of Stephen Davis' team-record pace of 2001. Wilson is the Cardinals' top tackler and clearly the leader of their defense.
If WR Santana Moss can't play, the offense becomes constricted.
The Redskins nicely survived Salave'a's absence last week, and they'll probably have to do it again against the Cardinals.