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“They’re definitely goal-oriented as far as what needs to be done,” Carter said. “In each game, they know the players. They’re just fundamentally sound.”

Both coaches also have a personable side underneath a stern facade. At least that’s what players say. Those in the media wouldn’t know that well.

“Not to give away too much, but it’s all for a reason,” Stallworth said. “With me being with Belichick in ‘07 and understanding how he was and what I thought of him before I got there, it’s totally different. The players love Bill and the players here, we really like Mike a lot. Those guys won enough ballgames that they know what they’re doing.”

Belichick and Shanahan, though, arrive at Sunday’s game on different paths. The Patriots have won four straight and are positioned to win their eighth AFC East division title in the past nine years. The Redskins are 4-8 facing a fourth straight last-place finish and second under Shanahan.

Still, if the Redskins could steal a victory, Shanahan would consider it a significant accomplishment partly because of his counterpart.

“Any time you play someone who has won consistently, you feel very good when you’re able to beat them,” Shanahan said. “You know how hard they work and how hard they prepare and what they’ve done through the years, so yeah, it is a special-type game.”