- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

Though the Washington Redskins finished 6-10 last season, the NFL schedule released yesterday has them talking about the playoffs.

The Redskins end the season with games against all three of their NFC East rivals: the Dallas Cowboys (Dec. 18), the New York Giants (Saturday, Dec. 24) and the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles (Jan. 1).

“We’ll control our own destiny,” Pro Bowl linebacker Marcus Washington said. “That’s all you can ask. Some guys will kind of hit the wall toward the end of the season, but playing the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles will help keep guys pumped up.”

The schedule, which begins at home Sept. 11 against the Chicago Bears, includes just one appearance on ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” which comes the following week at Dallas. The Redskins play host to the Eagles in their lone Sunday night game on ESPN on Nov. 6.

Although the schedule includes just five games against teams with winning records and six against playoff teams, coach Joe Gibbs said, “I always see all the monsters lurking in there.” Gibbs, who conceded he has never seen a schedule he liked, said he wasn’t pleased that the Redskins’ bye is in Week 3.

“That’s way too early,” guard Randy Thomas concurred. “Your body’s not beaten up yet and then when you come back, you’ve got to play 14 straight weeks.”

Thomas is also no fan of consecutive road games, which the Redskins face twice. Washington visits Denver on Oct. 9 and Kansas City on Oct. 16 and travels to St. Louis (in its only indoor game) on Dec. 4 and Arizona on Dec. 11.

This season will bring Washington’s first game in Kansas City in 10 years and its last at Sun Devil Stadium. The Cardinals move into their new facility in 2006. The Redskins are 0-3 in Kansas City.

“I love playing in Kansas City,” said Washington, who played there with Indianapolis. “The fans are real loud and [late Chiefs linebacker] Derrick Thomas’ mom feeds you so well after the game.”

The Redskins visit Tampa Bay on Nov. 13 for the first time since a 14-13 loss there in their last playoff game on Jan. 15, 2000. Offensive tackle Jon Jansen is the only remaining player with continuous service from that team. However, center Cory Raymer, who left for San Diego in 2002, is back, as is receiver James Thrash, who went to Philadelphia in 2001.

Mike Nolan, Washington’s defensive coordinator from 1997 to 1999, returns as San Francisco’s coach Oct. 23. Norv Turner, who coached the Redskins from 1994 to 2000, returns as Oakland’s coach on Nov. 20. Marty Schottenheimer, Washington’s coach in 2001, will make his return to Landover the following week. All three were fired by Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Washington’s visit to the Giants on Oct. 30 will mean a reunion with Antonio Pierce, the linebacker who led the Redskins in tackles last year before signing a free agent contract with New York in March.

The finale will be the Redskins’ second-ever game on Jan. 1. They crushed the Los Angeles Rams 51-7 in a playoff game on New Year’s Day 1984 en route to Super Bowl XVIII.

The home finale will be the Redskins’ fifth game on Christmas Eve. They beat Green Bay in a 1972 playoff game and the Rams (1994), Carolina (1995) and Arizona (2000).

Although they’re in different divisions, the Redskins will be meeting the Bears and Buccaneers for a third straight season and the 49ers and Seattle (Oct. 2 at home) for the third time in four years.

Both of Washington’s preseason home games are on Fridays: against Cincinnati and former Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis on Aug. 19 and against AFC runner-up Pittsburgh on Aug. 26. The game against the Ravens on Sept. 1 will be Washington’s first in Baltimore since Gibbs’ third preseason game as a first-year NFL head coach in 1981.

Note — The Redskins re-signed backup fullback Rock Cartwright. Washington’s four restricted free agents will officially be back if, as expected, they don’t receive contract offers from other teams before midnight tomorrow. They are backup defensive ends Demetric Evans and Ron Warner, reserve safety Andre Lott and third-string quarterback Tim Hasselbeck.

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