While the Washington Redskins' offense saw itself as culpable for the team's 1-3 November and the secondary saw itself responsible for big plays allowed in the passing game, the one area that received little blame was the run defense.
Since Tiki Barber of the New York Giants ran for 206 yards, the run defense has been the one area in which the team hasn't been scrutinized. Even when San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 184 yards nine days ago in a 23-17 overtime win, the run defense was not faulted as much as the offense's inability to keep a tired defense off the field.
In the other three games, a 17-10 win over Philadelphia and losses to Tampa Bay and Oakland, the Redskins have been a very stingy defense on the ground. The Eagles gained an average of just two yards on the ground, while the Bucs averaged just 2.3 yards per carry and Oakland 1.7 per rush.
For the season, the Redskins are ninth in total defense, and only four teams -- Carolina, Chicago, Seattle and Tampa Bay -- have given up fewer first downs by the run -- and each is better positioned for the playoffs than the Redskins.
"We're not a bad team," linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "We're close to doing a lot of things. In fact, we have the makings of a very, very good team, but it hasn't materialized. Doing these things consistently can give us a big morale boost."
If the last month has been any indication, the Redskins should expect an advantage Sunday at Arizona. The Cardinals' top rusher is Marcel Shipp, who has 297 yards for a woeful 2.6 per carry average. In fact, Arizona's top rushers, Shipp and rookie J.J. Arrington, have combined for 580 yards on 196 carries, a 3-yard-per-carry average. By comparison, Clinton Portis alone has 1,079 on 249 carries.
Price Isn't Right
With James Thrash out the last two games, David Patten lost for the season and Taylor Jacobs young and inexperienced, Santana Moss is the lone proven wide receiver, but Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday that the team had no interest in filing a waiver claim for Peerless Price, the wide receiver released Sunday by Dallas. Price was a 1,000-yard receiver in Buffalo before signing a big free agent contract with Atlanta in 2003. He was cut by the Falcons this year and signed by Dallas. "We talked about here and didn't think it was something that was right for us," Gibbs said.
Ryan Clark, who turned his left ankle Sunday, left Redskins Park on crutches. "My foot's been hurting for a while," he said. "I'll play. Now's not the time to be hurt." Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a, who missed Sunday's game with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, described his availability for the next few weeks as day-to-day. "We'll just see how it goes," Salave'a said yesterday. According to Gibbs, Salave'a was going to miss a "couple of weeks." Bubba Tyer, the Redskins' director of sports medicine, described Salave'a and Thrash, who has missed the last two games with a pulled hamstring, as "probably doubtful." Khary Campbell and Arrington both have thigh bruises. Tyer said that Cedric Killings, who missed Sunday's game with a strained groin, continues to receive treatment and that defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin came through Sunday's game better than the previous one against San Diego.