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First-place Redskins watch as the rest of the NFC East goes 0-3 on Sunday

First-place Redskins watch as the rest of the NFC East goes 0-3 on Sunday

NEW ORLEANS—It would be hard to imagine the Redskins having a better Sunday than they did yesterday without winning a big game. 

The Redskins will wake up in New Orleans this morning knowing that they will go to sleep tonight in first place in the NFC East no matter what happens in the Superdome against the Saints. That is the case because all three of the other teams in the division lost on Sunday.

First, we’ll look at what happened then see how it affects the Redskins. 

In the early window of games, the Giants rallied to take a 31-30 lead over the Panthers with 1:08 left to play. But Cam Newton led an eight-play drive that set up a 63-yard field goal by former Redskin Graham Gano with one second left. It tied the record for the longest game-winning field goal in NFL history. All of this happened in the wake of Odell Beckham Jr. questioning the heart of the team, not propping up Eli Manning when asked about quarterback problems, and wondered if his team was being out-schemed. 

The late afternoon time slot featured the Vikings visiting the Eagles. The visitors built a 17-3 halftime lead with a Kirk Cousins touchdown pass and a big-man TD, a 64-yard Linval Joseph rumble with a fumble recovery. That let Minnesota survive 23-21 while just getting six points in the second half. The Eagles now have three losses, as many as they had all last year. 

And on Sunday night football, the Cowboys went back and forth with the Texans all night before losing 19-16 in overtime. Dak Prescott threw two interceptions and owner Jerry Jones said that he did not agree with coach Jason Garrett’s decision to punt on fourth and short in overtime. 

In all, the NFC East has gone 1-5 the last two weeks while the Redskins have watched. 

After the dust settled, the Giants stayed in the basement of the NFC East at 1-4. The Eagles and Cowboys are tied for second at 2-3. On top after their early bye week are the 2-1 Redskins.

If the Redskins lose as 6.5-point road underdogs they will be 2-2 and still in first place in the division by half a game. If they pull off the upset, they will be 3-1 and a game and a half clear of the Eagles and Cowboys. That would mean that they would still be in first place going into their October 21 home game against the Cowboys no matter what happens when they play the Panthers next Sunday. 

It is early in the season. You don’t get a parade down Pennsylvania Ave. for being in first place a quarter of the way through the season. You don’t even get cheered going down Loudoun County Parkway. But it’s better to be in first place at any point in the season than it is the be in second, third, or fourth. The Redskins are trying to get back to the playoffs for the first time in three years and they will gladly take any advantage they can get. 

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Please realize how impressive it is that Adrian Peterson is returning for a third year with the Redskins

Please realize how impressive it is that Adrian Peterson is returning for a third year with the Redskins

What was supposed to be a miniseries is now being renewed for a third, full season.

On Wednesday, the Redskins announced they're exercising Adrian Peterson's team option for 2020, meaning the running back will return to Washington for another year in their backfield.

The natural reaction to news like that in today's sports landscape is to retweet it, or send the story to a buddy, or reflect on it for about seven seconds — and then immediately spin it forward. 

Will he start in Week 1? What does this say about Derrius Guice? Will the team still be thinking about drafting a running back? And asking questions like that is absolutely fine, since they're all worth considering.

Still, just chill for a bit before launching into what's next, because what's happened already with Peterson's Redskins career is remarkable and worth reflecting on.

When the former MVP signed with the Burgundy and Gold a few weeks before the 2018 season began, it felt completely possible that he'd be gone before even appearing in a meaningful contest. His contract was for one year and it was worth the NFL minimum. It was a total flyer for what was then a desperate offense.

But then Peterson showed his trademark burst in an exhibition matchup with the Broncos, hinting that he was no flyer. Then he posted 96 yards and a rushing touchdown in the opener in Arizona. Then two weeks later, he went off for 120 yards and two scores in a win versus the Packers.

Quickly, it became clear: The guy no one wanted was turning out to be the guy for the Redskins offense.

More highlights followed, including a 64-yard end zone visit against the Giants, a 90-yarder in Philly on Monday Night Football and a 119-yard effort in his penultimate appearance of the campaign.

All together, Peterson topped 1,000 yards for the eighth time in his career — as a 33-year-old behind an offensive line that changed constantly. So, the Redskins inked him to a two-year contract last offseason, rewarding him for his tremendous output. The expectation was that he'd share carries with Guice and Chris Thompson in 2019, helping out in more of a shared role.

Peterson, though, doesn't really abide by expectations.

After a bizarre Week 1 where then-coach Jay Gruden made No. 26 a healthy scratch, Peterson stepped in for an injured Guice and assumed the main role again. 15 starts later, the 34-year-old finished with another 898 yards and five TDs — on an even more limited offense that was without its two best blockers for the majority of its plays.

As a Redskin, he's carried the ball 462 times for 1,940 yards. He's racked up 12 rushing scores to go along with a receiving TD. The only time he's missed a game was when his head coach inexplicably deemed him not worthy of suiting up.

More often than not, a longtime, one-team legend will change uniforms late in their athletic life and quietly fade away. Their highlight reels won't feature a single clip from that final stop, pretending like it never happened. 

Peterson isn't exactly fading with the Redskins. Peterson isn't really fading at all with the Redskins, in fact. And now, the man whom Ron Rivera called the "epitome of what it means to be a pro in this league" is coming back for a third go-round.

Shortly after Washington's Wednesday announcement, Peterson tweeted at a photo of himself along with a caption that read, "Still going strong!!!" The post also featured an emoji of a fully-juiced battery.

In reality, the battery of Peterson's career is closer to 0% than it is 100%. But instead of trying to project the day when it finally runs out, sit back and enjoy what's left.

Yes, Peterson will ultimately be remembered as a Viking, but he's also giving Redskins fans plenty of memories. It feels like there's more to come, too.

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Report: Jordan Reed has cleared concussion protocol, wants to continue playing football

Report: Jordan Reed has cleared concussion protocol, wants to continue playing football

Just days after it was reported that Jordan Reed was still in concussion protocol six months after suffering one last August against the Falcons, the Redskins tight end is apparently healthy once again.

According to The Athletic, Reed has cleared concussion protocol and wants to continue playing professional football. Reed missed the entire season due to the concussion he suffered in Atlanta, the seventh documented concussion of his football career. 

While Reed may still want to suit up, it's unlikely it will be with Washington.

The Redskins are expected to release the tight end, who is entering the second to last season of a five-year, $46 million extension he signed following the 2015 season. The Redskins would save $8.5 million against the cap if they parted ways with Reed prior to June 1.

New head coach Ron Rivera has already parted with multiple veterans, releasing cornerback Josh Norman and Paul Richardson last Friday. Norman had one year remaining on his deal, while Richardson had three.

When asked about the tight end position earlier this month, Rivera wasn't shy about the team needing to improve the unit.

"Do we have our tight end? Probably not," Redskins head coach Ron Rivera said on Redskins Nation on Feb. 4. "That’s a big question mark." 

Two tight ends the Redskins could seek in free agency are Austin Hooper and Eric Ebron, among others.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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