Before every Washington Football Team game this year, Pete Hailey will identify one key number that you must know regarding that contest.
Here is his number for the Week 13 showdown with the Steelers.
"I just think that it’s a sense of pride."
That's Ron Rivera on Thursday talking about what it takes for a defense to excel once their foe makes it into the red zone.
Going off of that, Rivera should take plenty of pride in what Jack Del Rio's group is doing so far this season.
Washington is allowing a touchdown on just 48.39 percent of opponent trips inside the final fifth of the field, which is the best mark in the NFL. Some stats about Del Rio's unit feel flawed, but this one is totally legit.
The victory on Thanksgiving was the latest example of the Burgundy and Gold capably handling red zone situations.
On three separate occasions, the Cowboys breached Washington's 20, and each time, they had to settle for a field goal. The most notable stop, of course, came after Terry McLaurin's tackle of Jaylon Smith. Despite being set up at the 4-yard line, Dallas couldn't score a touchdown.
"I think it’s just something that has also played to our favor because it limits what the playbook can be," Rivera told reporters. "With studying and preparing, you can anticipate what teams are going to do down there."
"We work on the mindset, the ability to rise up and to find a way to hold them out," Del Rio added.
If Washington is going to hang with, and possibly take out, the Steelers this Monday, they're going to have to maintain their level of performance in this area.
Ben Roethlisberger is getting rid of the ball faster than any QB in the league these days, averaging just 1.9 seconds from snap to throw. That doesn't bode well for Washington, since they're at their best when their defensive line is able to live in the backfield. Odds are, Pittsburgh is going to be able to limit Chase Young, Montez Sweat and others and move the ball well at Heinz Field.
Once the hosts get into scoring territory, however, it'll be on Washington to tighten up like they have all year. As cliche as it is, the bend-but-don't-break style is working for them right now. As long as they don't break on Monday, they'll keep themselves in it against the last undefeated squad in the sport.