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Can the Redskins sustain the success they had vs. the Raiders?

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Can the Redskins sustain the success they had vs. the Raiders?

The Redskins and their fans thoroughly enjoyed the team’s domination of the Raiders on Sunday night football.

As spectators’ voices return to normal and the team’s high settles into the routine of getting ready for the next game, it will be time to wonder what’s next?

Is what the Redskins did last night sustainable? Or will it end up being one of a few pleasant memories during another frustrating campaign?

There is no crystal ball that can give us the answer here.

The NFL is a week-to-week league and we often see a team show up for one game that bears little resemblance to the one who puts on the uniform the following week.

But there were some common traits from the Redskins’ last two games, both wins, that will help them going forward. Among them are:

MORE REDSKINS: FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE BIG WIN

— Speed on defense — In particular, the additions of linebacker Zach Brown and rookie safety Montae Nicholson have given the Redskins a dimension they have lacked in the last several seasons. They say that speed doesn’t take a game off; it’s always there. If Nicholson and Brown show up for every game this year the defense has a chance to be great on a given day.

— Pass rush — The Redskins have at least one sack in their last 27 games and they have at least two sacks in every game this year. Pass defense starts with pass pressure and while the rush hasn’t been dominant throughout those 27 games, often they at least get some hurries and hits on the quarterback and over time those are nearly as effective as sacks. In that 27-game sack streak, the Redskins are 16-10-1, a .611 winning percentage.

— Quality cornerback play — Per Pro Football Focus, in three games Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland have played a combined 116 snaps in pass coverage and have allowed a total of 10 receptions for 117 yards. Throw in nickel corner Kendall Fuller, who has an interception and a forced fumble on his ledger, and you have a group that can limit the damage done by opposing wide receivers. That often forces teams out of their comfort zones.

— Pass protection — Kirk Cousins has been the starting quarterback since the start of the 2015 season. In those 35 regular season games, he has been sacked zero or one time in 19 of those contests. If your quarterback has time, you have a chance.

RELATED: SOME AMAZING NUMBERS FROM THE REDSKINS’ WIN

— A good running game — For right now, this is the most problematic element of their recent success. Running the ball depends on, well, running the ball. If Jay Gruden sticks with it, the running game can help the team dominate time of possession and help the defense by keeping them off the field. Their ability to keep the ball on the ground is dependent on Cousins picking up third downs when necessary by throwing the ball and on the defense keeping the score close enough to allow for rushing to be a sound strategy.

The Redskins are unlikely to bring all five of these elements with them every week. But if they have three or four of them working they can expect to be competitive.

And on the occasions when they have all five you can get games like the one last night.

LATEST: UPDATE WEEK 3 NFL POWER RANKINGS

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Five takeaways from the Redskins’ narrow win over the Cardinals

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Five takeaways from the Redskins’ narrow win over the Cardinals

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 20-15 win over the Cardinals.

Turnovers are important: Part of the Redskins’ problems in their last two non-competitive games was a lack of turnovers. Their only takeaway against the Cowboys and Chargers came on an interception in LA long after the outcome had been decided. Today, the Redskins got one three plays into the game, giving them an extremely short field (six yards) and a 7-0 lead a minute and a half into the game. That proved to be critical on a day when the offense operated well only in fits and starts.

RELATED: Must see photos from Redskins-Cardinals

Kendall Fuller might go to the Pro Bowl: Well, maybe he won’t because not many cornerbacks on 6-8 teams with low-ranked defenses get picked. But he is very, very good. Sunday he was all over the place and finished with eight tackles, including one in the middle of the line on a running play, something you don’t see a corner do often. He also knocked down two passes. The Redskins hope that some of their players who are now rookies can take the same leap that Fuller has between his first and second seasons.

Bad call, Jay: I’m not usually one to bang on Jay Gruden for his play calling but the end around to Josh Doctson late in the third quarter was just awful. They had a five-point lead first down at their own 32. A nice steady drive to any kind of score makes it tough for the Cardinals. But instead of sticking with what was working, Gruden called for an end around the Josh Doctson. It was the wrong play call at the wrong time to the wrong player. Doctson lost 14 yards on the play, which killed the drive. The Cardinals took possession after the punt and got back within two points on a field goal. Not good, Jay.

Special teams still struggle: There were three separate special teams gaffes in the second half. The Cardinals did a pooch kick on the second-half kickoff and they recovered it after the ball took an odd bounce. Then Jamison Crowder let a punt hit the ground and roll all the way back to the six-yard line, costing about 15 yards of field position. Finally, the Cardinals hit a 54-yard field goal but AJ Francis was called for using leverage to try to block the kick, giving the Cardinals a first down. Fortunately, they survived all of the miscues. The defense held Arizona to a field goal after the kickoff, the offense managed to drive for a field goal after getting the ball at the six, and the Cardinals kicked another field goal after the penalty on Francis. Still, the special teams can’t rely on getting bailed out all the time.

A needed win: The Cardinals did manage to put a big scare into the Redskins by driving down to the Washington 21 in the last minute. But the home team held on, averting disaster in the process. Had they lost due to a late drive engineered by Blaine Gabbert, who completed 39-percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 43, things would have become very ugly. A win is a win in the NFL so the fact that a couple of passes went just off the fingertips of receivers inside the 10 on the final drive won’t matter. They will celebrate and go into the week to prepare for the Broncos in a much better frame of mind.

MORE REDSKINS: Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

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USA TODAY Sports

Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

LANDOVER, MD—Here are my observations during the Redskins’ much-needed 20-15 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

—The Redskins’ two-week issue with slow starts was cured in a hurry. On the third play from scrimmage, Anthony Lanier busted up the middle and smacked Blaine Gabbert, knocking the ball loose. After Preston Smith recovered and returned it to the six, it was Kirk Cousins to Jamison Crowder for five yards and a touchdown. It was the start that a slumping team needed.

—The last two sacks stymied a good Cardinals drive in the red zone, making them settle for a field goal.

—The Redskins moved down the field and then they scored on one of the prettiest plays you’ll see. Faking a handoff up the middle and then a jet sweep gave a nice phalanx of blockers a chance to develop on the right side. Cousins flipped to Kapri Bibbs, who was in the clear nearly all the way to the end zone. Great play design and solid execution on that one.

—The Redskins tried to challenge what was called an incomplete pass. It looked like Preston Smith had knocked the ball out before Gabbert’s arms went forward.

—But the play stood as called and a Cardinals field goal made the score 14-6.

—At halftime, the Redskins had run 15 plays, 77 yards of offense, and 6:34 of possession time. But they held a 14-9 lead.  

—The Redskins special teams found a new gaffe to commit, letting a pooch kickoff bounce and the Cardinals recovered. A field goal cut the Washington lead to 14-12.

— It’s funny how when the running game gets going even a little bit, the passing game starts to roll. On a drive from their own five, Samaje Perine got a couple of four-yard runs that seemed to unleash an offense that had been struggling. Cousins went to Crowder, Perine, and then Crowder again for big gains to the Arizona 10. But they couldn’t punch it in and had to settle for a 24-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to make it 17-12.

—The Redskins got a little too fancy. They got a first down at the 32 and they tried an end around to Josh Doctson. Wrong guy, wrong play, whatever. He lost 14 yards and that killed the drive. After the punt the Redskins punted the ball to Arizona, giving the Cardinals a chance to take the lead with a touchdown.

—The Cardinals kicked a 54-yard field goal but yet another special teams gaffe—a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on AJ Francis for leverage—gave Arizona a first down. Fortunately, the defense held again and the Cardinals ended up with the same result, a field goal to make it 17-15.

—The Redskins couldn’t wrap it up after getting great field position after a punt at their 45. They did get a couple of first downs and Dustin Hopkins kicked a field goal to make it a five-point game. But they left Arizona with 4:30 to get a TD to take the win.

—After an exchange of punts it took just two plays for the Cardinals to get into Washington territory. But on third and five, Gabbert lost the handle on the ball and the play went for a loss of 18 yards. The Cardinals had to punt, giving the Redskins a chance to seal up the game on offense. But it went three and out, giving the Cardinals another chance.

—Fortunately, key pass break-ups by Kendall Fuller, Zach Vigil and DJ Swearinger FINALLY ended this one, with the Burgundy and Gold on the right side of things for the first time in three weeks.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.