- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 20, 2015

LANDOVER — Every win is important, but the Washington Redskins desperately needed one on Sunday.

After a 17-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, it would have been tough to put the breaks on an 0-2 slide heading into a Thursday night game against the New York Giants.

The Redskins avoided that with a resounding 24-10 win against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

The formula was the same against the Rams as it was against the Dolphins in that the Redskins relied on a foundation of a good running game and strong defensive stands. The difference was they got the winning result this time.

“We didn’t feel like things were slipping away,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “But more importantly, it’s the second home game. To go 0-2 to start the season at home is tough to overcome.

“We have to take advantage of our home crowd, keep them in the games like they were today. It was outstanding.” 

With that, here are three takeaways from the Redskins‘ win.

** The Redskins‘ defense came to play against St. Louis. It allowed just 10 points for the second consecutive week and held the Rams to 213 yards on offense — only 72 in the first half. The Rams were 2-for-12 on third down conversions and 1-for-7 in the first half, with their only conversion coming on the last play of the second quarter. The Redskins forced the Rams to punt on their first six drives.

The only play that got away from the Redskins on Sunday was Kenny Britt’s 40-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter as the Rams scored 10 unanswered points. Britt split cornerback DeAngelo Hall and strong safety Trent Robinson to get wide open. The defense responded by forcing the Rams to punt after running just four plays on their first drive of the fourth quarter — and the Redskins iced the game with a Matt Jones touchdown.

What was impressive on Sunday was the Redskins‘ ability to put the pressure on the quarterback without having to always bring extra rushers. They controlled the line of scrimmage and it showed.

It’s easier to win games when you only have to score two touchdowns.

** The Redskins rushed for 182 yards after rushing for 161 last week. It was an incredibly strong showing from the offensive line as Matt Jones led the way with 123 yards. That type of success on the ground takes pressure off the quarterback. The Redskins needed Kirk Cousins to manage the game on Sunday and he did just that. He was more than efficient, completing 23 of 27 passes for 203 yards.

There were no turnovers. The Redskins had this type of success on the ground last week, but Cousins’ two interceptions hurt against the Dolphins. There was one pass on Sunday that was dangerously close to being intercepted in the first half when Cousins tried to connect with Ryan Grant, who was surrounded by Rams‘ defenders. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground after Trumaine Johnson couldn’t keep his hands on it.

Sometimes that makes all the difference.

Other than that, Cousins moved the ball well to his receivers, even without DeSean Jackson on the field.

** At the rate at which kickoffs are routinely booted deep into the end zone it’s easy to take them for granted, but what a difference it makes once afforded that luxury. The Redskins cut Kai Forbath last week in search of a more complete package at the kicker position and signed Dustin Hopkins, who kicked four touchbacks on Sunday and might as well have had five. The only kick that was returned was fielded deep in the end zone and brought back to the 20.

Last season, the Redskins ranked 31st in opponents’ average starting field position following a kickoff with the average drive starting just shy of the 25-yard line. It may not seem like much, but the ability to constantly produce touchbacks is valuable in that it controls field position and eliminates the chance for a big return.

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