Feel-good time is over for the Washington Redskins. Now the team shifts its attention to the New York Jets, who come to town Sunday at 6-5, fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Redskins, meanwhile, have snapped their six-game losing streak and hope to post back-to-back victories for the first time since the second week of the season.
Here are five areas to monitor leading up to the game.
> Banged-up safeties – LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe have been banged up for the better part of the year. On Sunday, Landry suffered a groin injury and Atogwe was demoted because in his current condition, he doesn’t give the team a better chance to win than Reed Doughty. Mike Shanahan believes he can help the team as a backup, however. Landry managed to finish the game, but how effective can he be with a bad groin in addition to his strained Achilles’ tendon? Is the team better off going with Doughty and DeJon Gomes full-time?
> Bowen’s health – Defensive end Stephen Bowen suffered a third-degree PCL tear. His status for Sunday is unclear. Shanahan said on Monday that some players have been known to play through the injury, but others can’t. Surgery isn’t usually needed, the coach said, but it’s not yet known how effective Bowen can be. The Redskins already are thin along the defensive line.
> Special teams corrections – One of these days, the Redskins are going to have a game without problems kicking field goals (or extra points). Is this the week? Injuries have thinned the ranks of linemen on the field goal/special team unit, so replacement players must step up and do a better job of executing. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team spend a little extra time trying to shore things up there.
> Helu’s encore – Roy Helu had an impressive day on Sunday and seized the first real opportunity to prove that he can be an every-down back.. He’ll remain the starter going forward, Shanahan says. How will he do in his second straight start against an aggressive defense that had all week to plan for him?
> Maintaining momentum – The offense has progressed each of the last three weeks, and Sunday finally saw Rex Grossman & Co. produce a winning result. Can they maintain their momentum and continue to improve? The Redskins may have finally found an answer in the running game. Now, can they figure out a way to help Grossman eliminate his turnovers? Will Anthony Armstrong regain a key role in the offense after his big touchdown catch? How will having a game under his belt help Santana Moss, who returned to action Sunday after four weeks on the sideline?