Running back Tim Hightower was plenty familiar with Sunday’s foe, and he used it to his advantage early.

On the Redskins’opening drive, Hightower got into a shoving match with Arizona linebacker Paris Lenon. The play was a third-down incompletion from Rex Grossman, but in the ensuing skirmish, Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes drew an unnecessary roughness penalty. That gave the Redskins a new set of downs and put them on the Arizona 10-yard line.

“It was just me being me, and me getting under those guys’ skin,” said Hightower, whom the Redskins acquired via trade with Arizona in July. “I practiced with those guys for three years, so I know exactly who I can press what buttons on. I got the outcome that I needed. I got the penalty for us. I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize the team. It was just me letting them know, it’s going to be a long day and we’re here to win.”

Hightower had 96 rushing yardson 20 carries, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. It was a much stronger performance than the season opener against the Giants (72 yards on 25 carries), but the game also carried special meaning.

“I’m trying to think of all the adjectives I can use right now,” is how Hightower tried to explain it.

“I tried to tell myself all week that this was just another game. But it wasn’t,” he said. “It meant a lot to me. It was very special to me. This wa sthe team that brought me in. I have a lot of memories with this team. I wanted this one really bad. I told the guys that, and I’m thankful that we got the win today.”

Arizona Coach Ken Whisenhunt traded away Hightower, acquiring a conditional draft pick and veteran defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday in return.

“Tim’s a good back. We knew that, and he played well today,” Whisenhunt said. “You have to give him credit. Tim’s ability wasn’t a surprise.”