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Living on the Edge

Antwaan Randle El celebrates after scoring on a fourth-quarter two-point conversion that gave the Redskins a 20-17 lead.
Antwaan Randle El celebrates after scoring on a fourth-quarter two-point conversion that gave the Redskins a 20-17 lead. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)

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Most of the plays were runs pretty much up the middle of the Jets' defense. Eventually they led to 196 yards rushing by running back Clinton Portis and another 64 by his backup, Ladell Betts.

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"That was more the look of what I envision Redskin football to be," Gibbs said.

This was, however, the Jets. And even if Washington fought back from 14 points down and established some version of what Gibbs envisions "Redskin football" to be, the fact remains the Redskins simply survived against a team they were supposed to beat. This has happened often this year, with narrow victories over Miami, Arizona and now the Jets. The team's only decisive win was 34-3 over the Detroit Lions in early October.

Otherwise the offense has not scored much. No wide receiver has a touchdown catch. Until Sunday, Portis hadn't really broken free in a game and there seemed much confusion and debate in the team headquarters as to whom the lead running back should be, Portis or Betts.

Still, a solid defense has helped carry Washington. Sunday, it was more aggressive and delivered jarring hits, something many players feel it has to do for them to dominate teams in the second half of the season. While the Redskins won on this day, few players acted as if they controlled the game. "It felt like we had a hangover from the New England game when we started," Fletcher said.

But survival is a large part of life in the NFL. Sunday, the Redskins trailed for most of the game, took a small lead and saw it disappear right before the end of regulation. Even with Shaun Suisham's 46-yard game-winning field goal in overtime, it was far too close for a game against a team with one victory. A significantly harder schedule looms in the second half of the season.

And only so many games can be won by the length of a ball flying toward the goalposts.


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