Redskins Open With Giants, Close on Road

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 15, 2009; Page D01

The Washington Redskins will open their schedule against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium for the second consecutive season, will host the St. Louis Rams in the 2009 home opener at FedEx Field and make two West Coast trips in the final four weeks of the season.

"It's a competitive schedule right from the start as we play an NFC East game against the defending division champion," Coach Jim Zorn, who was in draft meetings yesterday at the complex and unavailable to speak with reporters, said in a statement released by the team. "As we look at each division opponent, they have all improved through free agency and the potential of the draft. Many of our divisional games are on national television."

After kicking off with their NFC East rivals on Sept. 13 at East Rutherford, N.J., the Redskins return to FedEx Field on Sept. 20 against the Rams. Washington will face the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sept. 27, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to FedEx Field on Oct. 4.

On Oct. 11, the Redskins and Carolina Panthers meet at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and the Kansas City Chiefs will be Washington's opponent at FedEx Field on Oct. 18. The Redskins play the first of their two Monday night games on Oct. 26 against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field and then begin their bye week.

Washington resumes its schedule Nov. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Last season, Washington's bye week came after the ninth game, and it played seven consecutive weeks to finish the season.

The Denver Broncos will be at FedEx Field on Nov. 15, and the Redskins play their first game at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium on Nov. 22. The Redskins play consecutive road games against NFC East opponents, facing the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 29.

Washington and the New Orleans Saints play at FedEx Field on Dec. 6, and then the Redskins make their first West Coast trip to play the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 13 at Oakland Coliseum.

The Redskins again face NFC East opponents in back-to-back games at FedEx Field in December. They will host the Giants in their second Monday night game on Dec. 21 and the Cowboys in a night game on Dec. 27. Washington concludes its schedule with another trip to California to face the San Diego Chargers on Jan. 3.

"Wow, that's tough. For a team to have to go out west twice in four weeks, and then you're also talking about playing divisional opponents back to back in those four weeks, yeah, it's definitely going to be hard," quarterback Jason Campbell said. "What we're going to have to do is just go out there, play hard and take care of business. We have to take care of business at home, and that's something we've had a problem with in the past. But when you're ending the season like we're going to end it, you can't afford to make mistakes early."

The Redskins began the 2008 season with three road games against NFC East opponents in five weeks. They opened their previous schedule with a nationally televised game against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium -- Zorn's regular season debut -- and also played the Cowboys and Eagles during the early stretch of the season.

After a season-opening loss, the Redskins won four straight for a surprising 4-1 start in 2008. Washington, however, then lost at FedEx Field to the Rams, struggled in a victory over the lowly Cleveland Browns and defeated Detroit (0-16) to go 6-2 in the first half of its schedule. The Redskins' impressive record at the midpoint of their schedule stirred excitement at Redskins Park that the team would qualify for the postseason in consecutive seasons for the second time since 1991-92.

But Washington collapsed in the second half, going 2-6 to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs for the seventh time in owner Daniel M. Snyder's 10 seasons at the helm. From Nov. 3 through Dec. 14, the Redskins went 1-5, including losing three in a row.

"When coaches look at the NFL schedule, it is a matter of being willing to accept the challenges of the opponents on your schedule," Zorn said. "In every game and opponent, we will face tremendous athletes and complex schemes, which is what makes the NFL exciting and challenging."

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